I have tested several IoT platforms over the last couple of weeks. So I was not too keen to checkout yet another one. However, when I got the annoucement that the Spark Core is shipping I could not resist and ordered one. It arrive in the mail today so I thought I will take it for a spin.
The Spark Core comes in a very stylish little box.
Figure1: Spark Box
To my surprise the box did even includes a breadboard:
Figure 2: Open Spark Core Box
Overall, the box contains the Spark Core board, a breadboard, a micro-USB cable and Spark sticker.
Figure 3: Box Content
It is amazingly simple to get the board up and running. By following these few simple steps:
- Download the Spark App for iPhone or Android
- Setup an account by register at spark.io
- Power up the Spark Core over the USB cable
- Start Spark App and log into your wireless network
If everything works well you will get rewarded with the RGB-LED on the Spark board flashing in rainbow colors. Once the Spark Core is connected to you WiFi and paired with the Spark cloud, it took me only a few minutes to get an on-board blue LED blinking.
It very quickly becomes obvious that the Spark team has done a great job setting up an entire end-to-end IoT solution consisting of:
- Spark Hardware
- Cloud based IDE
- Arduino compatible API
- Free for life cloud back-end service with a RESTful API
All the Spark Core software is open source. The board uses a CC3000 WiFi Module from TI combined with a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 powered STM32F103 from ST Microelectronics. The Spark team has come up with a nice integration of this hardware and the cloud server back end. It is based on the CoAP protocol specification and allows for an easy and energy efficient integrated IoT solution.
The cloud API offers over-the-air (OTA) firmware updating where the input can either be c/c++ source code or binaries. For those that don't want to use Spark Builder, their cloud based IDE the web site also promises support for desktop IDEs like Eclipse.
So much for today, I will cover more details in future blogs.