Learn more at the upcoming tech talk: Connected Product Development - Secure Cloud & Local Connectivity for Microcontroller-based Devices. Click here.
Amazon FreeRTOS (a:FreeRTOS) is an operating system for microcontrollers that makes small, low-power edge devices easy to program, deploy, secure, connect, and manage. Amazon FreeRTOS is based on the FreeRTOS kernel, a popular open source operating system for microcontrollers, and extends it with software libraries that make it easy to securely connect your small, low-power devices to AWS cloud services like AWS IoT Core or to more powerful edge devices running AWS Greengrass.
A microcontroller (MCU) is a single chip containing a simple processor that can be found in many devices, including appliances, sensors, fitness trackers, industrial automation, and automobiles. Many of these small devices could benefit from connecting to the cloud or locally to other devices. For example, smart electricity meters need to connect to the cloud to report on usage and building security systems need to communicate locally so that a door will unlock when you badge in. Microcontrollers have limited compute power and memory capacity and typically perform simple, functional tasks. Microcontrollers frequently run operating systems which do not have built in functionality to connect to local networks or the cloud, making IoT applications a challenge. Amazon FreeRTOS helps solve this problem by providing both the core operating system (to run the edge device) as well as software libraries that make it easy to securely connect to the cloud (or other edge devices) so you can collect data from them for IoT applications and take action.
To get started, you can use the Amazon FreeRTOS console to configure and download Amazon FreeRTOS for your device. The Amazon FreeRTOS Qualification Program gives you the confidence that the microcontroller used in your device fully supports the Amazon FreeRTOS features and capabilities. Amazon FreeRTOS is open source and there is no charge to use it. To learn more about getting started, click here.
Based on the FreeRTOS Kernel
Easily Program, Deploy, and Manage Low Power Connected Devices
Secure Data and Device Connections
Connect to the Cloud or to a Local Edge Device
Broad Hardware and Technology Ecosystem
How It Works
Amazon FreeRTOS provides everything you need to easily program connected microcontroller-based devices and collect data from them for IoT applications. You can get started by choosing a microcontroller that fully supports Amazon FreeRTOS features and capabilities from trusted providers like Microchip, NXP Semiconductors, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments or others from the Amazon FreeRTOS Qualification Program. Then, you can use the Amazon FreeRTOS console to select the relevant software libraries for your devices and download the complete Amazon FreeRTOS operating system, including the device and application specific libraries. To learn more about all the options for getting started, click here.
Once Amazon FreeRTOS is deployed to your devices, you can securely connect them to cloud services like AWS IoT Core, or to a local edge device, and update them remotely using the OTA update feature (now in beta).
Industrial customers utilize microcontroller-based devices that generate data about business critical workloads. Industrial sensors, actuators, pumps, and components of automation utilize microcontrollers because they are low cost, low power, and can perform real-time actions. For instance, a single pump on an oil rig is controlled by a microcontroller and has the potential to completely shut down production if there is a failure. Amazon FreeRTOS enables these customers to collect data on system performance and stress through a direct connection to the cloud, and to take real-time critical, local actions with AWS Greengrass to prevent such disruptive outages.
Microcontrollers are commonly used in B2B commercial devices because of their low power requirements and low cost. For example, security equipment manufacturers are increasingly adding connectivity to microcontroller-based devices like commercial door locks and sensor systems. Amazon FreeRTOS allows these companies to accelerate the release of new connected products by simplifying the design and development process. Development is simplified because the Amazon FreeRTOS Qualification Program provides a list of qualified microcontrollers and the Amazon FreeRTOS console lets you download the source code specific to that microcontroller and use case. These manufacturers can also securely apply patches to commercial door locks with the OTA update feature (now in beta).
Amazon FreeRTOS can help consumer products companies like appliance, wearable technology, or smart lighting manufacturers, standardize microcontroller-based device development, delivery, and maintenance across a wide variety of products and models. Amazon FreeRTOS provides a single microcontroller operating system that can support a wide range of microcontroller hardware of varying power and capacity. This lets these companies focus on product innovation instead of managing the complexity of software development across multiple product lines. Amazon FreeRTOS will also provide the ability to securely update features of existing consumer products in the field with the OTA update feature (now in beta).
Amazon FreeRTOS enables the quick integration of embedded hardware with the IoT cloud. New features that have been added to the FreeRTOS kernel, including the secure code-signed OTA firmware update feature, enable performance entirely with the MQTT protocol rather than having to manage multiple ports, sockets and protocols. The Amazon FreeRTOS libraries help to reduce initial development time so that Allegion (Schlage) can focus on product features that add customer value for their security solutions.
Centrica Connected Home (Hive) sees Amazon FreeRTOS as an enabler for accelerating product development cycles for new connected microcontroller-based devices such as the Hive Leak Sensor. Compared to the bespoke firmware technologies that Centrica Connected Home used in their previous sensors, Amazon FreeRTOS can accelerate time-to-market given the significant reduction in development effort required to securely connect to AWS IoT, and to evaluate multiple chipsets, since the same code can now run across many chipsets. Centrica Connected Home also anticipates a potential reduction in operational costs by utilizing AWS managed services such as the secure OTA update feature using code signing.
Honeywell is demonstrating a proof-of-concept (POC) developed by the Innovation team using AWS Greengrass and Amazon FreeRTOS technologies. This POC enabled Honeywell to quickly prototype a system demonstration using their Lyric T5 Wi-Fi thermostat, a Honeywell residential security system and a variety of external sensors. Key customer benefits include – establishing proximal networks rapidly & conducting edge analytics. This is not a commercially available offering, but demonstrates the feasibility of using AWS’ new IoT services for this solution.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory robots need to work in harsh environments, often on the edge of the known Universe. By using AWS edge computing and Amazon FreeRTOS, JPL built a diverse robotic swarm prototype that uses different types of robots to execute a difficult task. Amazon Free RTOS enabled JPL to build and incorporate new, different, and more powerful miniature robots much faster than before, all on extremely constrained compute hardware.