Will Texas Instrument’s Cheap Sensors Kick-Start The Urban IoT?

If you've been around the world of technology for a while, you've seen it before. Every so often a new product debuts in the marketplace without much fanfare, almost as though it is in stealth mode. For the right person or company, however, that upstart piece of code or hardware is to their processes what the Wizard of Oz was to film. One day the world was black and white: the next it was all technicolor and ruby slippers baby.

Welcome Texas Instruments' new IoT sensor kit. With the awe-inspiring name CC2541 Sensor Tag (who markets these things), it brings some very powerful technologies together in one, easy to use, form factor giving city-centric developers new ways to access real-time urban data. Just what does the CC2541 do that is so transformative? Here is a list of its features along with a product description:

  • IR temperature Sensor
  • Humidity Sensor
  • Pressure Sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Magnetometer

The CC2541 SensorTag kit shortens the design time for Bluetooth low energy app development from months to hours with no embedded software design knowledge required. The SensorTag is preprogrammed with the FW needed to get started with smart phone app development and TI has a SensorTag App on the App Store providing developers easy access to the tools and software examples they need.

In other words, TI has incorporated six sophisticated technologies into a tag form then bundled it with an easy-to-use, mobile dev kit. 

Now some of our readers may be wondering why we are so excited about this product anyway. Well, think of all the city-based applications that are just waiting to be made smart. The obvious ones are transit based. Buses, streetcars, taxis, limo services, rental cars, your car, etc., etc., etc. Then there is the weather. Admit it, you don't care what the temperature is at the airport. What is important to you is what the temperature is along the five block walk to the office.

The really transformative thing about this technology is that it empowers consumer-level development that over time may well bubble up to city decision makers. Let's face it, in today's North American urban management realm the only thing that gets discussed is how to cut costs. With Detroit defaulting what administrator wants to be out there selling visions of the City Beautiful? They just want to pay for garbage collection while keeping their jobs until the next round of Pols get elected.

No. It is up to citizens to reinvent their cities, and this technology is one way to collect and distribute the information needed to do that. Crowd sourcing? Who needs it. We have Citizen sourcing now, and if our understanding of technical innovation is right, nothing will be the same.

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