Micros

MCU's Alexa connection lowers barriers to IoT adoption

31st December 2020
Mick Elliott

Nuvoton’s NuMicro M032 serial microcontroller (MCU) is now being shipped by distributor Digi-Key Electronics.

It can be used with Amazon’s Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) platform and ecosystem to build an Alexa-compatible smart device easily and quickly without worrying about sophisticated IoT device system integration.

Thanks to the efforts of Amazon Web Services (AWS), ACK reduces the barriers to IoT adoption, allowing simpler implementations and making it easier to deploy new IoT devices and services and to scale quickly.

A typical IoT device consists of three major functional blocks:

  1. Network connectivity: Usually a Wi-Fi System-on-Chip (SoC) provides physical and link layers connection to the customer’s home Wi-Fi network.
  2. IoT cloud access: A microcontroller or microprocessor (MCU/MPU) can be used to implement IoT protocols (HTTP, WebSockets, TLS, MQTT, etc.) on top of a real-time operating system (RTOS). In addition, this MCU also provides comprehensive security features to protect the IoT device from malware attacks.
  3. Device control: Depending on the application, different IoT devices have different requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for different home appliances. For instance, a simple smart switch may only need a few GPIO pins to turn on and off, while a ceiling fan may need a few PWM signals to control the fan motor.

The ACK uses an Amazon-managed hardware module to connect any device to the internet and Alexa without worrying about managing cloud services, Alexa skills, or complex networking and security firmware.

With the NuMicro M032 host microcontroller (HMCU), ACK customers can take advantage of NuMicro M032’s versatile I/O peripheral interfaces for various device control functions which can fulfill most smart home appliance needs.

The Nuvoton NuMicro M032 is an Arm Cortex M0-based HMCU with a variety of I/O interfaces including GPIOs, UART, I²C, SPI, PWM, ADC, DAC, and more.

Nuvoton has finished the HMCU NuStamp-ACK module which integrated USI MT7697H ACK in a postage-stamp-sized module with various built-in programmable peripherals.

It has also finished the ACK/HMCU bare-bone integration, as well as pre-integrated with Alexa's lighting device type.

Based on this example, customers can easily integrate this add-on postage-stamp-sized module into their existing home appliance product and convert it into Alexa-compatible devices such as ovens, microwaves, fans, thermostats, home security, and more.

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