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Linux-based wireless gateway links up to Azure-ready IoT stack

Jun 23, 2020 — by Eric Brown 582 views

Cloud of Things’ compact, Arm/Linux based “DeviceTone IoT Gateway” is equipped with MikroBus, LAN, GPIO, WiFi, LTE, NB-IoT, BLE Long Range, and DECT ULE. Both the gateway and an MCU-based “Genie” edge node work with an Azure-certified DeviceTone IoT Suite.

We found out about Cloud of Things’ DeviceTone IoT Gateway, DeviceTone Genie edge node, and DeviceTone IoT Suite in an IoT Evolution story headlined “Do we really need another IoT gateway?” One’s initial response might be “hell no,” followed by a swipe left into oblivion. Yet, the story attempts to persuade us we do a new gateway and its name is DeviceTone.

DeviceTone IoT Gateway
(click image to enlarge)

The story quotes Eliav Gnessin, CTO of Yel Aviv and Newton, Mass. startup Cloud of Things and inventor of the DeviceTone IoT Suite as saying: “We’ve created a gateway that is affordable and more efficiently managed than early generation gateways…and which is able to route data to public and private IoT clouds.”

The underlying argument is that while there are too many poorly secured IoT gateways out with shaky cloud connections, there is still plenty of room for managed, easy to deploy gateways like DeviceTone that ship with secure, cloud-connected IoT aggregation stacks. The DeviceTone IoT Suite working in conjunction with the Linux-powered DeviceTone IoT Gateway and MCU-based DeviceTone Genie node are designed to securely collect, analyze, and relay data from diverse sensors and equipment. This subscription-based Connected Field Service (CFS) offering supports applications including manufacturing, smart cities & buildings, smart energy & utilities, agriculture, and healthcare.

DeviceTone IoT Suite conceptual diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The DeviceTone IoT Suite includes a connected device management service and console, a dashboard, and a configurable “connector to your CRM system instance, so that assets can automatically trigger alerts that open a Field Service ticket,” says Cloud of Things. The open API based stack provides security, OTA firmware updates, lifecycle management services, and a digital twin capability. A self-provisioning DeviceTone wizard is expected by the end of the month.


The IoT stack features a cloud accelerator called CloudSwitch that offers automatic cloud commissioning and supports Google, Amazon, and other cloud services. The software is pre-certified for Microsoft Azure. DeviceTone has a patented multi Azure IoT Cloud instance technology “that enables customers to direct device data to their own private Azure cloud.”

DeviceTone IoT Gateway

The 160 x 120 x 37mm DeviceTone IoT Gateway runs an unnamed embedded Linux OS on an unnamed, 800MHz Cortex-A9 SoC. (Our guess is an i.MX6.) Although primarily designed for aggregating and sending sensor data to the cloud, the gateway also supports edge analytics and offline rules.

The local stack includes a secure U-boot bootloader with “dual-bank fail-safe memory” and “a full-function router with DHCP, NAT, VPN, and firewall,” says Cloud of Things. The fanless system ships with 256MB RAM, 2GB eMMC, and a microSD slot.

The DeviceTone IoT Gateway has an Ethernet port (probably 10/100) plus wireless features including WiFi, an LTE module with CATM/NB-IoT support, and Nordic BLE long range with Wirepas mesh networking support. The LTE and BLE radios likely use the same Quectel BG96 and Nordic nRF52840 parts, respectively, used on the DeviceTone Genie (see farther below).

The gateway is further equipped with a DSP Group DHAN-M (PDF) module for DECT ULE (Ultra Low Energy) communications. This IoT focused wireless technology supports up to a 5-meter range inside and up to 200 meters outside.

The DeviceTone IoT Gateway supplies 2x USB ports, as well as 6x UART, 4x SPI, 3x I2C, 3x SDIO, and 32x GPIO interfaces. The 12V powered gateway also offers 2x MikroBus connectors for Click sensor and I/O add-ons.

DeviceTone Genie

The conceptual diagram farther above suggests the DeviceTone Genie edge node is designed to communicate directly with the cloud via LTE instead of linking first to the gateway. The diagram also shows a DeviceTone Custom, which suggests you might be able to modify existing edge nodes to support DeviceTone.

The compact, 60 x 60mm Genie is built around a Cortex-M4-based Nordic nRF52840 Bluetooth 5.2 module, which typically runs FreeRTOS or Zephyr. There is also a Quectel BG96 modem — an LTE Cat M1/Cat NB1/EGPRS module with maximum data rates of 375Kbps downlink and uplink.

DeviceTone Genie
(click images to enlarge)

The DeviceTone Genie is equipped with UART, RS485, GPIO, and I2C interfaces, as well as temperature and GPS location sensors. You can connect the device directly to a piece of equipment via the I/Os, in which case the equipment powers it via 5V or 3.3V connections. Alternatively, it can be remotely deployed, in which case you are limited to sending the temperature and location data. In this case, the device can be powered by 3x AAA batteries battery or another 5V source.

Accessories for the gateway and Genie include vibration, motion, curtain, presence, environmental, water leak, and temperature/humidity sensors. Other options include smoke detectors, keypads, switches, sirens, radiator valves, thermostats, magnetic contacts, cameras, and asset tracking anchors and tags.

Further information

No pricing was provided for the DeviceTone IoT Gateway, DeviceTone Genie edge node, or DeviceTone IoT Suite. This appears to be a subscription-based service offering. A functional trial that includes the DeviceTone Genie and DeviceTone IoT Suite costs $99.

More information may be found on the Cloud of Things website.


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