The Renesas Synergy S7G2 IoT Enabler Kit: IoT Development Made Easy

The Internet of Things (IoT) covers a huge range of applications, and provides massive connectivity between edge devices and cloud-based data services.

So there’s no doubt, IoT covers a lot of ground. Some of the more common IoT applications include:

• Manufacturing -  remote monitoring, diagnostics, process control, inspection
• Smart Buildings and Homes – energy management, security, remote monitoring
• Health and Wellness – biometrics, remote drug delivery, activity tracking
• Agriculture – environmental and livestock monitoring, logistics, predictive maintenance, equipment tracking
• Retail – POS, merchandising, theft protection, inventory control, vending machines 

Given this vast scope, developers face multiple challenges in developing IoT applications. In most cases, adding IoT capability causes an increase in complexity, much of which is invisible to the end user. Except when it causes problems, of course!

For example, robust security is a requirement. So is fitting the IoT node into an existing wired or wireless communication scheme. And don’t forget the device drivers for all those sensors.

All of these required IoT features are the “price of entry” into the IoT market. Unfortunately, they all lengthen the development cycle, even before you write the first line of application code that will differentiate your product. Don’t think that you’ll be given extra time, though:  according to the 2015 UBM Embedded Developer Survey, the pressure to be first to market is compressing time available for development even as code size increases.

Start with a ready-made IoT kit

The Synergy S7G2 IoT Enabler Kit from Renesas can cut your development time dramatically.  Not only does it come with a 32-bit feature-rich microcontroller (shown in Figure 1) and a variety of plugin modules, it’s tightly integrated with the Renesas Synergy Platform: a complete cloud-enabled IoT software platform that includes all the tools you need for IoT application development.

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Figure 1: The Renesas S7G2 IoT Enabler Kit main board (Source: Renesas) 

What are some of the benefits of a ready-made kit?

You can get started quickly with a working solution.  The Renesas S7G2 kit is optimized for IoT applications so most of the platform code is already written, freeing up development time for differentiating features. Standard IoT functions include communications, environmental monitoring, position sensing, digital and analog i/o, audio, a touchscreen, and more.

You can evaluate design options.  Not sure which wireless protocol to use in your application? You can run Bluetooth, WiFi, and CAT1 cellular right out of the box, and expansion sockets let you evaluate third-party solutions for LoRa, ZigBee, and many more.

You have one-stop hardware and software support from the teams at Arrow and Renesas, partners on the IoT Enabler Kit.  Arrow is a global supplier of products and services to the global electronics community. And Renesas is the premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions with deep expertise in every aspect of IoT application development.

 

Why Use the Renesas Synergy Platform?

With the Renesas Synergy Platform, you can forget about the low-level details and start writing code at the API level. It includes a comprehensive library of tested modules including a proven, full-featured RTOS, compiler, debugger, middleware, and more. Figure 2 shows an overview.

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Figure 2: Overview of the Renesas Synergy Platform (Source: Renesas)

For increased functionality and specialized features, there’s easy integration of third party code using software and modules from Renesas’ Verified Software Add-on (VSA) partners.

With the Synergy Platform, you can buy the microcontroller and get over $100k worth of professional software and tools, with no license fees and no royalties.

What's in the Renesas IoT Enabler Kit?

Renesas has partnered with leading technology and service providers for the S7G2 IoT Enabler Kit, and it shows.

The IoT Enabler Kit contains everything you need to start your IoT project, from edge to enterprise. It consists of the main board; plugin accessory boards; complete documentation; software, labs, and sample applications; even some handy required accessories such as a USB cable and ear buds.

The microcontroller is the 32-bit Renesas Synergy S7G2, based on the industry-standard ARM Cortex-M4 core running at 240 MHz with 4MB of flash and 640KB RAM.

Standard IoT input and output functions include a color touchscreen, LEDs, and buttons. You can add extra function via the expansion sockets; the S7G2 board includes an Arduino header with five sensors and four Grove connectors, plus two sockets for Peripheral module interface (Pmod) modules.

Connectivity

The IoT spans numerous industries and a wide range of applications. Connectivity is a common denominator, so the IoT Enabler Kit main board includes many of the popular consumer and industrial protocols as standard features. In consumer, there’s USB, Ethernet 10/100, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).  Standard industrial protocols are RS232, RS485, and CAN, which is also used in industrial applications.

Add the plugin options, and the range of connectivity options expands immeasurably.  The S7G2 IoT Enabler kit includes two wireless Pmod modules:  for WiFi applications, there’s the Longsys GT202 Pmod plugin featuring the Qualcomm Atheros QCA4002 single-chip 1x1 802.11 b/g/n device; for 4G LTE cellular, there’s Nimbelink’s Skywire Cat 1 cellular modem which connects to the Verizon CAT1 network. 

If your IoT application requires another connectivity standard, choose from third-party Pmod plugins for LoRa, ZigBee, and more.

IoT Sensors & Actuators

At the edge level the IoT is all about gathering massive amounts of data about the real world, so naturally the S7G2 IoT Enabler Kit includes a choice of sensors. 

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Figure 3: Some of the sensors included in the S7G2 IoT Enabler Kit (a) Pmod environmental board sensors; (b) Arduino Shield sensors. (Source: Renesas)

 

Figure 3 shows some of the sensors. To gather environmental information, there’s an AMS Environmental Sensor Pmod board; it contains the AS3935 lightning sensor, the iAQ-Core C indoor air quality sensor, the ENS210 humidity/temperature sensor, and the TMD3782 color light-to-digital converter and proximity sensor.

The kit also includes an Arduino Sensor Shield built by Renesas which contains a Honeywell HIH-5030-002 humidity sensor; a Bosch BMC150 combination accelerometer/magnetometer; a TE Connectivity MS5637-2BA03 barometer; a Global Top GPS; an InvenSense ICS-40181 MEMS microphone; and four Grove sockets to add additional functions, including the supplied vibration motor module.

Examples, Labs, and Documentation

The IoT Enabler Kit includes full documentation including working examples, source code, and manuals.

A lab is a great way to learn IoT concepts, so the kit gives you a choice of five. You’ll learn how to build cloud-based dashboards; how to implement a wireless application using Bluetooth, WiFi, or CAT1 cellular; and how to integrate a wide variety of sensors into your application.

A lab manual provides you detailed step-by-step instructions on each one. There’s also source code for three example projects: a smart wine transporter; a remote song player; and a multi-user fitness tracker.

The icing on the cake? The kit has built-in interaction with the cloud via Thingspace, Verizon’s cloud-based platform that’s designed to help manufacturers of connected machines embed IoT technology early in the design process and scale quickly.

Conclusion: Spark Your Imagination!

To help you learn more about how the S7G2 IoT Enabler Kit can help in your application, Arrow and Renesas will be conducting training labs and seminars at multiple Arrow locations. There’s a choice of six labs covering different IoT Enabler Kit functions, including one on security. Click here for seminar series info.

The opportunities afforded by the Internet of Things are limited only by your imagination. Let the Renesas S7G2 IoT Enabler Kit be the spark that ignites the flame!





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