Glen Knight

NYC Based IT Professional

AWS IoT ExpressLink Now Generally Available – Quickly Develop Devices That Connect Securely to AWS Cloud

At AWS re:Invent 2021, we introduced AWS IoT ExpressLink, software for partner-manufactured connectivity modules that makes it easier and faster for original equipment manufacturers to connect any type of product to the cloud, such as industrial sensors, small and large home appliances, irrigation systems, and medical devices.

Today we announce the general availability of AWS IoT ExpressLink and the related connectivity modules offered by AWS Partners, such as EspressifInfineon, and u-blox. The modules contain built-in cloud-connectivity software implementing AWS-mandated security requirements. Integrating these wireless modules into the hardware design of your device makes it faster and easier to securely connect Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the AWS Cloud and integrate with a range of AWS services.

Connecting devices to the AWS cloud requires developers to add tens of thousands of lines of new code to their processor of devices, which demands specialized skills. Merging this new code with their application code also requires a deep understanding of networking and cryptography to ensure the device is both functional and implementing AWS managed security requirements.

Some devices are too resource-constrained to support cloud connectivity, meaning their processors are too small or slow to handle the additional code. For example, a small piece of equipment, like a pool pump, may contain a tiny processor that is optimized to drive a particular type of motor but does not have the memory space or the performance necessary to handle both the motor and a cloud connection.

Modules with AWS IoT ExpressLink include simple codes required to connect the device to the cloud, thereby reducing the development cycle and accelerating time to market. To take the pool pump from the previous example, you can keep the tiny processor in the equipment, and delegate the heavy lifting of connecting to the cloud to AWS IoT ExpressLink, allowing the manufacturer to make the simple application software, and avoid costly redesign.

Modules with AWS IoT ExpressLink feature best practices for device-to-cloud connectivity and security as manufacturing partners incorporate AWS-mandated security requirements designed to help protect devices from remote attacks and to help achieve a secure connection to the AWS Cloud. These include the following provisioning and security procedures:

  • Cryptographically signed certificate with unique device ID.
  • Cryptographically secured boot based in a hardware root of trust.
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS v1.2 or higher) encryption of wireless network connections.
  • Encryption of all sensitive data stored on the module, both in transit and at rest.
  • Hardware root of trust for secrets storage and application code segregation.
  • Compliance with security regression test suite.
  • Verification of communication interfaces (Command Line Interface, Wi-Fi, BLE, or Cellular) against memory corruption attacks.
  • Support for cryptographically secured AWS IoT over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates to keep the devices up to date with new features and security patches.

AWS IoT ExpressLink natively integrates with AWS IoT services, such as AWS IoT Device Management, to help customers easily monitor and update their device fleets at scale.

How AWS IoT ExpressLink Works
I’ll explain how AWS IoT ExpressLink communicates with AWS partner modules and allows you to simply connect to the cloud.

For example, Infineon’s IFW56810 is a single-band Wi-Fi 4 connectivity module that provides a simple, secure solution for connecting products to AWS IoT cloud services. The IFW56810 module is preprogrammed with a tested secured firmware of AWS IoT ExpressLink implementation and supports an easy-to-use AWS IoT ExpressLink AT command interface for configuration.

To get started, connect the IFW956810 evaluation kit to the PC using either the Type-C connector or Type-A male to Type-C female cable. Run a serial terminal to communicate with the kit over USB by choosing the higher of the two enumerated COM ports on Windows with the following configuration. Once you open the serial terminal after configuring your setting, such as baudrate, type AT in the serial terminal. You should see a response OK.

You can also send AWS IoT ExpressLink commands as simple as CONNECT, SEND, and SUBSCRIBE to start communicating with the cloud. The device will translate these commands, make an MQTT connection, and send messages to AWS IoT Core.

Whether you are using a Wi-Fi or a cellular LTE-M module, you can make the most basic telemetry application that can be expressed in 10 lines of pseudo-code as follows.

int main()
        print("AT+SEND data {"A"=%d}", getSensorA());

To learn more, visit the AWS IoT ExpressLink programmer’s guide.

Customer Stories
Many of our customers use AWS IoT ExpressLink to offload the complex but undifferentiated work required to securely connect devices to the AWS Cloud, which improves the developer experience by reducing the design effort, and helping them deliver product faster.

Cardinal Peak is a Colorado-based product engineering services company that reduces the risk of outsourcing an engineering project. Cardinal Peak specializes in developing connected products in multiple markets, including audio, video, security, health care and others. With design skills in hardware, electronics, embedded, cloud and end-user software, Cardinal Peak provides end-to-end design services for its clients.

Keegan Landreth, Embedded Software Engineer at Cardinal Peak said:

“AWS IoT ExpressLink allowed me to put together a WiFi-connected product demo sending sensor data to the cloud in a single afternoon! Secure networking for embedded systems has never been this easy. It’s an almost completely transparent interface between my application and AWS, as simple as printing data to a serial port. Being able to do OTA firmware updates through it is a huge value add-on. The best part is that I can reuse the same code to make a cellular version, which is unheard of!”

ēdn makes SmallGarden, cloud-powered indoor smart gardening products to let you easily grow plants providing light, water, nutrients, and heat as necessary at home.

Ryan Woltz, CEO of ēdn, said:

“We were looking for a quick and easy way to enable robust cloud capabilities for our indoor gardening product lines. However, from past experience, we knew that doing so adds significant risk in terms of time, money, and overall go-to-market execution. IoT device connectivity is complex, forcing our team to either outsource the development to a costly third party or allocate internal engineering resources, significantly delaying innovative features that differentiate our offerings in the market. Even a small misstep in the implementation of provisioning, security, or over-the-air functionality can set a product back months.

Now, thanks to u-blox’s hardware module with AWS IoT ExpressLink, we can enable secure and reliable cloud connectivity for our devices within days. This not only allows us to accelerate product development, but it ensures our engineering team remains focused on shipping leading-edge technologies that make nature accessible indoors.”

u-blox is an AWS Partner with a broad portfolio of chips, modules, and services. Harald Kroell, Product Manager at u-blox, said:

“At u-blox, with AWS IoT ExpressLink, we strengthen our Wi-Fi and LTE-M portfolio and bring silicon-to-cloud connectivity to the next level. By bridging our hardware and services with the AWS cloud, we progress on our mission to make businesses wirelessly connected and build solutions to last an IoT lifetime.

With the SARA-R5 and NORA-W2 modules with AWS IoT ExpressLink, customers can connect products with two different wireless technologies to AWS with a single homogeneous interface, which significantly reduces development effort. It also enables new business opportunities by lowering the barrier of connecting devices, which previously would have been too expensive to connect.”

To get started, order SARA-R5 Starter Kit and USB-NORA-W256AWS with its development kit user guide, including modules powered by AWS IoT ExpressLink.

AWS IoT ExpressLink Partners
As in the case of u-blox, two other AWS Partners, Infineon Technologies AG and Espressif Systems, have developed wireless modules that support a range of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and cellular, and are powered by AWS IoT ExpressLink. All qualified devices in the AWS Partner Device Catalog are available for purchase from AWS Partners.

Infineon Technologies AG specializes in semiconductor solutions the goal of which is to make life easier, safer, and greener. Sivaram Trikutam, Vice President, Wi-Fi Product Line at Infineon Technologies, said:

“We’re excited to be working with AWS on the AIROC™ IFW56810 Cloud Connectivity Manager (CCM) solution supporting AWS IoT ExpressLink. With this plug-and-play solution, developers and engineers no longer need to create complex code or possess a wide range of technical competencies in Wi-Fi, embedded systems, antenna design, and cloud configuration.

Now, they can easily, quickly, and securely connect devices at scale to AWS, so they can focus on creating new revenue streams and getting to market faster. We are excited to work with our partner AWS on new business opportunities that help our customers meet their needs.”

Espressif Systems is a multinational, fabless semiconductor company with a strong focus on providing connectivity solutions to internet-connected devices. Amey Inamdar, Director of Technical Marketing, Espressif Systems, said:

“At Espressif, we continuously strive to provide secure, green, versatile, and cost-effective AIoT solutions with a focus on ease of use for our customers. The AWS IoT ExpressLink program fits well into that philosophy, providing a convenient AWS IoT connectivity.

It enables customers to seamlessly transform their offline product into a cloud-connected product by offloading the complexity to the module with AWS IoT ExpressLink, with reduced development costs and a faster time to market and hence lowering the barrier to entry to build secure connected devices. Espressif is proud to participate in this program with Espressif’s module with AWS IoT ExpressLink to provide secure and affordable AWS IoT connectivity.”

Order and Get Started Now
You can discover a range of Partner-provided modules with AWS IoT ExpressLink in the AWS Partner Device Catalog. Order your evaluation kits with AWS IoT ExpressLink today. The kit will include an application processor or will connect to compatible development platforms such as Arduino.

You can then immediately start sending telemetry data to the cloud through the simple AWS IoT ExpressLink serial interface. You can use sample codes for integrating an AWS IoT ExpressLink module into an application. These examples are intended to demonstrate how to perform the common operations for an IoT device.

To learn more, visit the product page. Please send feedback to AWS re:Post for AWS IoT ExpressLink or through your usual AWS support contacts.


Source: AWS News

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