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InfoQ Homepage News Verizon's ThingSpace Platform Facilitates Development of New Internet of Things Applications

Verizon's ThingSpace Platform Facilitates Development of New Internet of Things Applications

Verizon has launched a new platform named ThingSpace, the objective of which is to simplify the development and deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

"We really believe that the market is underserved today," said Mike Lanman, Verizon's senior vice president of enterprise and Internet of Things products. "With all the babble going on in the marketplace, why aren't people executing faster?"

Verizon is attempting to tailor the ThingSpace cloud platform toward applications that analyze IoT data. ThingSpace developers can utilize APIs and hardware bundled with developer kits that perform the actual IoT measurements and gather the data for transfer to the analysis platform.

The new technologies utilize Verizon's existing wireless communications network, but in a stripped-down manner suitable for IoT data as opposed to human-to-human communication. Verizon Vice President of IoT and Connected Solutions Mark Bartolomeo says the ThingSpace back-end is more streamlined because it doesn't need to carry out all the tasks required by advanced devices like smartphones. Meanwhile, the emergence of less expensive wireless modems like the Sequans LTE module addresses the historic problem of high wireless transmission costs for IoT data.

Developers will find plenty of possibilities for engagement at the ThingSpace site. The Dev Kits page presents hardware and associated software development kits for many potential IoT monitoring and diagnostics applications. Raspberry Pi, Arduino, TI BeagleBone, Skywire, and other hardware is supported. Developer kit language integration includes the lightweight IoT pub/sub messaging and alerts platform dweet and mainstream programming languages like C++ and Python.

The ThingSpace Connectivity Management API automates connectivity tasks throughout an IoT device's life cycle. The API allows you to:

add and activate devices, check their status, monitor their usage, and perform other device connectivity management tasks through a REST API. You can use the API to add connectivity management to anything from small apps to enterprise software systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management and customer service management. The API provides a secure, standards-compliant REST interface to the web services at the Verizon M2M Data Center.

Hahn Family Wines in California is an example of Verizon's IoT effort at work. The vineyard has installed sensors into the ground that monitor whether roots need moisture. Instead of watering on a calendar-based schedule, the sprinklers are turned on when the sensor measurements indicate that the vines need water.

Verizon chose to wait until ThingSpace was developed to the point where software engineers could begin concretely experimenting with its capabilities before they announced its existence. For example, the Connectivity Management API Reference includes detailed documentation of the REST interface for accomplishing tasks related to analyzing IoT data that has been uploaded to the platform. The API documentation includes everything from starting a connectivity management session, to activating and deactivating devices, to retrieving device information, device usage history, device connection history, and even communicating with remote devices (send and receive SMS messages, manage callback listeners, etc.).

The ThingSpace Community is just getting started. In fact, according to Lanman, the actual plans with respect to how developers and companies will pay for using ThingSpace aren't "smoked out yet." Possibilities range from one-time usage fees to pay-per-use to more traditional monthly plans.

The Internet of Things has produced $495 million in revenues for Verizon thus far in 2015. However, Lanman noted, "None of us was satisfied with how rapidly it was growing."

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