The Internet of Things, aka IoT, is a fast-growing, but complex space which is very much a technological wild west in terms of hardware, interoperability (or the lack of) and management. Even savvy users can see obvious pain points and gaps in the existing ecosystem.
This creates an environment where large companies can easily believe that “land grabbing” and closing their system will give them an advantage. Others form consortiums along mutual interest battle-lines, which creates a host of competing and non-compatible platforms. By now most have realized that it doesn’t work, and many talk about “Openness.” ARTIK is Samsung’s pitch at creating an IoT platform that removes pain points.
From a high level, ARTIK now encompasses every Samsung IoT efforts, going from hardware to software to data hosting and processing. ARTIK is an end to end label that represents Samsung’s current IoT push. All the names such as Smart Things, Smart Things Cloud, SAMI… are now part of ARTIK.
Having a hardware platform is important to Samsung because it wants to be a major supplier of IoT components, in addition to end-user products. Building the base components also allows Samsung to introduce and promote potential technological advances. This hardware effort is visible in the form of modules loaded with sensors that could be used as the foundation for many IoT devices.
The ARTIK modules were announced in 2015, but their software development kit (SDK) has a more mature integration with the backend (cloud) elements of Samsung’s platform and has very strong security built-in. Samsung was pitching its KNOX security layer in a very convincing way, lining up all the defense-grade security certifications they gathered worldwide. These could help breach layers of red-tape in governments worldwide, especially in healthcare and defense.
ARTIK modules come in several sizes and capabilities, but the smallest is a computer that is one 12x12mm big. It is a complete computer with onboard memory, storage, communications and sensors. The bigger modules tend to have more capabilities and connectivity options.
One of the big problems with IoT is the data aspect. At this point, it’s very easy to generate a lot of data with personal sensors. However, the proliferation of services and account is a pain point that most people recognize today. The lack of actionable item derived from the data is a second issue which currently plagues some segments of the IoT industry.
ARTIK Cloud can talk to major IoT services and accept data storage requests from 3rd party hardware and services. This works by letting developers build descriptions for hardware and data from basic building blocks.
At the moment, Samsung engineers have built most of the existing (data) bridges between ARTIK and 3rd parties to get things off the ground, but in the future, any 3rd party can use Samsung’s SDK to connect to ARTIK.
Once the data is inside ARTIK, it is possible to use rules and commands to perform many kinds of automation by sending commands from ARTIK to compatible appliances. In turns, this will make things more interoperable.
Developers will pay for the ARTIK Cloud based on their usage with a pro-rated pricing based on the request they make. Of course, there are volume discounts (tiers). Depending on a developer business model, it may, or may not be worth using it. It’s hard to tell how popular this will be.
Conclusion: scale, reach, security
With ARTIK(2016), Samsung is pulling together all its non-consumer IoT efforts under one, more coherent effort with a unified branding. There are a couple of things that are attractive. On the hardware front, Samsung tends to have advanced and small IoT computers (with SDK) that can save a lot of time to developers.
The cloud and security aspects of ARTIK can save a lot of “time to market” by offloading a lot of the tedious data management and certifications onto a scalable platform which already does what is required by large number of apps. The long-term cost-effectiveness of this approach remains under investigation, but the advantages of ARTIK may simply outshine its drawbacks.
Finally, there’s the advantage of “scale”. ARTIK and its SDK allow developers to have access to Samsung tools, but also potentially to Samsung customers. With billions of devices in the market and more on the way, it’s hard not at least think hard about it.