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 extends the FreeRTOS kernel, a popular open source operating system for microcontrollers, 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 IoT 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 that 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 select a device from the AWS Partner Device Catalog. Then, you can use the Amazon FreeRTOS console to download Amazon FreeRTOS for your device or download from GitHub. Amazon FreeRTOS is open source and there is no charge to use it. To learn more about getting started, click here.
Extends the FreeRTOS Kernel
Amazon FreeRTOS is open source and it extends the FreeRTOS kernel, the most popular real-time operating system for microcontrollers. With Amazon FreeRTOS, you can take advantage of the large ecosystem of existing tools developed for the FreeRTOS kernel. If you are already using the FreeRTOS kernel on your existing devices, you can choose to use Amazon FreeRTOS and take advantage of the functionality provided by the additional libraries, or continue to use just the kernel operating system.
Easily Program, Deploy, and Manage Low-Power Connected Devices
Amazon FreeRTOS includes software libraries that make it easy to program commonly needed IoT capabilities into your device, including libraries that help configure devices to a local network using common connectivity options like Wi-Fi or Ethernet, or connect to a mobile device using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). (BLE support in Amazon FreeRTOS is currently available in Beta). Amazon FreeRTOS also includes an over-the-air (OTA) update feature to remotely update devices with feature enhancements or security patches.
Secure Data and Device Connections
Amazon FreeRTOS comes with libraries to help secure device data and connections, including support for data encryption and key management. Amazon FreeRTOS includes support for Transport Layer Security (TLS v1.2) to help your devices connect securely to the cloud. Amazon FreeRTOS also has a code signing feature to ensure your device code is not compromised during deployment and OTA updates.
Connect to the Cloud or to a Local Edge Device
Amazon FreeRTOS devices can connect directly to cloud services like AWS IoT Core, to a local edge device like an AWS IoT Greengrass device, or to a mobile device via BLE. (BLE support in Amazon FreeRTOS is currently available in Beta). By connecting Amazon FreeRTOS devices to an IoT Greengrass Core device, you can continue to communicate with the device even if it loses connection to the cloud.
Broad Hardware and Technology Ecosystem
Amazon FreeRTOS gives you the flexibility to easily build IoT solutions on a variety of chipsets and supports a variety of architectures. The AWS Partner Device Catalog lists IoT devices that work with AWS IoT. For new devices, you can choose and purchase from a variety of qualified chipsets from the AWS Partner Device Catalog, a curated catalog of AWS enabled hardware from our trusted APN partners.
Integrated High Quality Tools
AWS IoT Device Tester for Amazon FreeRTOS is a test automation tool for microcontrollers. With AWS IoT Device Tester, you can easily perform testing to determine if your device will run Amazon FreeRTOS and interoperate with AWS IoT services. To learn more and get the tool, click here.
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 an Amazon FreeRTOS-qualified microcontroller from the AWS Partner Device Catalog. Then, you can use the Amazon FreeRTOS console or GitHub 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, to a local edge device, or to a mobile device via BLE (BLE support in Amazon FreeRTOS is currently available in Beta), and update them remotely using the OTA update feature.
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 critical, local actions in real-time with AWS IoT Greengrass to prevent such disruptive outages.
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 also provides the ability to securely update features of existing consumer products in the field with the OTA update feature.
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 AWS Partner Device Catalog lets you quickly find and purchase Amazon FreeRTOS qualified microcontrollers. These manufacturers can also securely apply patches to commercial door locks with the OTA update feature.
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 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 OTA update feature using code signing.
"For nearly 150 years, Kimberly-Clark has been pairing breakthrough innovation with consumer insight to create the essentials for a better life. Amazon FreeRTOS has become a key component used by our developers to design IoT-based smart products that reinvent the consumer experience, and frees them to focus instead on consumer-centric design that improves the lives of our consumers by transforming data into meaningful product, brand, and channel innovations."
-Jon Boulos, Technical Strategist, Global Research & Engineering
Fueled by ingenuity, creativity, and an understanding of people’s most essential needs, Kimberly-Clark strives to create products that help individuals experience more of what’s important to them. Their portfolio of trusted brands, including Huggies, Kleenex, Scott, Kotex, Cottonelle, Poise, Depend, Andrex, Pull-Ups, GoodNites, Intimus, Neve, Plenitud, Viva and WypAll are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 175 countries. Amazon FreeRTOS enables Kimberly-Clark to “commoditize” infrastructure aspects of product development, such as connectivity and updates, enabling research teams to rapidly build, test, and iterate innovative tools that uncover fundamental truths about product performance and consumer habits.
Honeywell is demonstrating a proof-of-concept (POC) developed by the Innovation team using AWS IoT 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 and 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 FreeRTOS enabled JPL to build and incorporate new, different, and more powerful miniature robots much faster than before, all on extremely constrained compute hardware.