Forging the open vision for thin edge IoT devices

☁suɐɥ ɟǝoq☁
thin-edge.io
Published in
6 min readSep 8, 2022

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An open approach to IoT device software hardens connectivity security and rapidly accelerates prototyping

What do you get when you combine a diverse group of energized software developers, a fleet of Segways, an aerial assault course, a barbeque, and many crates of beer? We didn’t know, so that’s what we set out to discover at our first ever in-person thin-edge.io Summit in Düsseldorf before the summer break.

An opportunity to finally meet

thin-edge.io is the first open-source, cloud-agnostic IoT framework designed for resource constrained edge devices. The project was initiated in the midst of the COVID pandemic and has a team distributed across multiple countries in Europe, America and Asia, who have been working fully remotely from the outset.

As predominantly a contributing partner led initiative, the facetime not only gave the teams time to bond but also provided an opportunity for each partner’s different perspective to be openly discussed. We were delighted to have stakeholders from across many departments of IFM, Kunbus and Software AG that inspired a proactive discussion to ensure that the project progressed in a manner that was most relevant to the community.

Open solutions to common problems

The open-source thin-edge.io project was founded by a diverse group of embedded software, cloud software and security specialists to solve the common problems of enterprise-grade secure connectivity and robust device management that is needed to be overcome when developing connected products.

It provides re-usable modular components, that are not bound to any IoT platform, programming language, or hardware. thin-edge.io is built to run efficiently on small embedded Linux-based devices with only 32 MB RAM, but can equally run on larger multi-core industrial PCs.

Using thin-edge.io:

  • Embedded software engineers can drastically reduce the effort and competence needed to implement secure IoT platform connections in a small resource footprint
  • IoT solution architects can rapidly create scalable end-to-end solutions for any IoT platform that are easily extensible with OT protocol adapters, analytics and IoT apps
  • Industrial automation engineers can connect and manage remote industrial equipment in a way that allows IoT analytics and apps to be managed independently from OT firmware logic

The hard work bit

Although we don’t want to diminish the value of eating your body weight in barbequed food and slowly replacing most of the liquid in your body with beer (please don’t try this at home), this wasn’t the main reason for our meeting. Our focus was to progress the abstract strategic topics that will make the thin-edge.io project stronger.

The focus areas were:

Vision

There has been an implicit understanding of the project’s vision, which we have realized needs to be made more explicit and public as we onboard more contributing partners. After frank and open discussions with all the stakeholders present, we settled on a consensus and will publish the draft soon.

Way of working

We believe that everyone who works on the thin-edge.io project should have a clear and consistent view of how the project team works and how the processes run. For instance, how an idea evolves to become a new feature in thin-edge.io. Like with any start-up initiative, the processes have evolved from their corporate, individual and industry best practice origins. We are now documenting the best of these and will publish those that have been incorporated soon.

Community

An active community is an essential part of any open-source project. Here also we are looking to solidify our initial successes (like our regular meetups, release demos and tech focused Discord channel discussions), and improve in other areas. We felt that we tripped over ourselves with our early documentation, and are now refining the content to better structure it towards how it will be used: Getting started, how to guides, examples, etc.

Also having the best documentation means nothing if the community can’t find it when they need to solve an IoT connectivity or device management issue. For this we are working the make the documentation (if fact all the project material) more easily discoverable. We don’t have megabucks for ad campaigns but will find another way.

The beauty of this project being open source is that you can track our progress on these three focus areas on GitHub. All comments are welcome.

Not-so-remote beer pump monitoring

Our face-to-face meeting provided the perfect opportunity for our first hybrid thin-edge.io Community Meetup and aptly named “not-so-remote beer pump monitoring” hackathon. Our final hackathon solution poured a beer for Boris (quarantining in Hamburg) every time Andrej (in Düsseldorf) took a sip from his beer bottle.

Boris constructed an electro-mechanical solution using a Kunbus Revolution Pi, running thin-edge.io, and an actuator that opened the beer keg release valve based on commands sent to thin-edge.io. The Düsseldorf team used a phone running the Cumulocity IoT sensor app (taped to a beer bottle) to send acceleration measurements to the Cumulocity IoT platform, which determined the bottle’s orientation, and send an open valve command when the beer was being sipped.

The less hard work bit

Our team meeting provided the perfect opportunity for many stakeholders across the contributing partners to voice their views and ensure that the project was progressing towards our joint aims. Personally, I found the event one of the most valuable weeks in a long time and would recommend anyone to get involved in the open-source thin-edge.io project.

Join us to learn more

Hopefully I have sparked your interest to learn more about thin-edge.io and potentially trying it out for yourself. The online community meetups are the best way to discover the latest advances of the project and its uses.

thin-edge.io Community Meetup #5 | Thu, Sep15 at 10:00 EDT / 15:00 BST / 16:00 CEST

At the next event we will cover a preview of release 0.8, integrating to OPC-UA industrial assets, delivering motorsport telemetry, connecting to AWS IoT, and deploying in the Yocto framework.

Don’t miss out. Sign up now!

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☁suɐɥ ɟǝoq☁
thin-edge.io

#thin-edge.io☁devrel #hackathons #Amsterdam, # #IoT, #startups, # @, #AFCAjax :-) Tweets are my own