About this project
Driven by the desire to change the status quo of the Internet of Things market and to help the hardware and software community move ahead, we have created the ultimate IoT-in-a-box development kit for connecting devices between each other and to the cloud.
Why choose Creator Ci40 for IoT?
Many of those looking to explore the IoT and embedded computing markets face a hard but honest question: where do I start?
Making sense of the many boards and accessories, hardware and software interfaces, connectivity standards and APIs has been described as one of the biggest problems that the computing industry is facing today.
The Creator™ Ci40 IoT kit includes not only the hardware building blocks needed to quickly prototype a wireless IoT system from scratch but most importantly the open source software frameworks, the network stacks and the cloud connectivity capabilities required to securely connect and authenticate devices to the cloud.
The Creator Ci40 IoT kit offers you a complete yet flexible package that includes:
- A powerful IoT hub, the Creator Ci40 development board integrates a 550 MHz dual-core, dual-threaded MIPS CPU running OpenWrt and a multi-standard connectivity package (802.11ac 2x2, Bluetooth 4.1, 802.15.4, fast Ethernet), with room for further expansion
- Two battery-powered MikroElektronika Clicker™ boards featuring a dedicated 6LoWPAN chip and the mikroBUS™ socket for adding sensors
- Three MikroElektronika Click boards™ for measuring temperature, detecting motion, and controlling a relay (hundreds of other Click boards are available from MikroElektronika)
Build an IoT project with Creator Ci40 in five easy steps
Using Creator Ci40 to prototype an IoT project is a breeze:
- Mount any Click board on a battery-powered Clicker expansion board to form a standalone wireless device (e.g. a wireless sensor or a switch)
- Program the standalone wireless device to communicate with the Creator Ci40 IoT hub over the 6LoWPAN network
- Connect other wireless devices to the Creator Ci40 IoT hub using 6LoWPAN, Bluetooth® (Smart or Classic), Wi-Fi or any other wired/wireless interface available
- Process all sensor readings and additional data using the powerful computing hardware available on the Creator Ci40 IoT hub
- Send the results to the cloud using our FlowCloud™ IoT framework for further analysis and reporting
Our Creator Ci40 IoT kit perfectly addresses individual makers inspired to build innovative connected projects at home as well as small and medium enterprises or entrepreneurs who want to quickly prototype an IoT platform and then ramp up for volume production.
If you’re a maker, an IoT developer, a Linux hacker or even a company looking to build a revolutionary IoT project, Creator Ci40 is the ideal solution for you.
The possibilities are endless – and we can’t wait to see how you use Creator in your next project! Examples of applications where Creator Ci40 could be deployed include home automation, e-health, efficient gardening and agriculture projects, smart cities, security and surveillance, safety-critical connected sensors, or environment and air quality monitoring.
Read on for an overview of the package, a breakdown of the hardware and a summary of the pre-bundled software.
The IoT, in a box!
If you’re a developer looking to quickly prototype IoT devices, Creator Ci40 is absolutely the kit you’ve been looking for. The compact cardboard box packs everything you need to build the next wireless application for the Internet of Things, including a powerful hub and configurable sensors and actuators.
The entire system is modular, easy to put together and easy to use.
We have decided to go easy on the cable count – this is a wireless platform after all! The only cable included in the box is a USB cable providing DC power to the Creator Ci40 microcomputer.
A powerful microcomputer as the IoT hub
At the heart of the package sits the main Creator Ci40 development board. Ci40 is the IoT hub that receives sensor readings over a wide range of wired and wireless interfaces; you can then process these readings locally and send the results to the cloud using our FlowCloud platform.
The Creator Ci40 board is a high-performance, low-power microcomputer that packs a cXT200 chip based on a subsystem optimized by Imagination Technologies specifically for IoT applications. The cXT200 SoC includes a dual-core, dual-threaded MIPS CPU clocked at 550 MHz and an Ensigma connectivity engine that covers super-fast 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi and low-power Bluetooth/Bluetooth low energy (Classic and Smart, respectively).
In addition, we’ve integrated many other components that complete the connectivity package; this includes a dedicated 802.15.4 chip and many other peripherals and ports, including USB, Ethernet, SPI.
Multiple expansion boards and sensors
The Creator Ci40 IoT kit integrates two battery-powered 6LoWPAN Clicker expansion boards and three Click companion boards.
The Clicker boards are compact development boards based on the mikroBUS socket. When used together with the companion Click boards, they provide a quick way to prototype and build standalone gadgets that connect using low power wireless standards to the Creator Ci40 IoT hub.
Each Clicker board includes a dedicated MIPS-based PIC32MX microcontroller from Microchip that can be pre-programmed via a USB/HID bootloader allowing you to easily update the firmware every time you want to make a change to your code. The Clicker board also includes a USB port, buttons and LEDs, and additional pads for external electronics.
The companion Click boards enable you to add new functionality to your project. All you have to do is just push the Click board into the innovative mikroBUS standard socket and you can start using it right away with zero hardware re-configuration! The Creator Ci40 IoT kit includes three Click boards that connect to Ci40 to build a feature-rich sensor pack that monitors temperature, humidity and other useful data.
If you’re looking to build a completely new and different project, you can purchase additional sensors from MikroElektronika. There are already hundreds of Click boards available right now, with more being added every week.
Maker-friendly interfaces (mikroBUS, Raspberry Pi, etc.)
The Creator Ci40 board features a number of peripheral I/Os, including a mikroBUS socket and a Raspberry Pi pin-compatible interface.
The two mikroBUS Clicker sockets can be used to instantly plug compatible devices with minimum set-up. MikroElektronika’s portfolio includes hundreds of mikroBUS compatible Click boards, providing the community with the ability to expand designs with additional functionality and minimum hardware configuration.
Alternatively, you can switch to the Raspberry Pi-compatible interface that enables you to port your existing Raspberry Pi projects over to Creator.
The complete hardware specifications
Creator Ci40 development board
- CPU: 550 MHz dual-core, dual-threaded MIPS interAptiv, 32/32 kB L1 I- and D-cache per CPU, 512 kB L2 cache, IEEE 754 Floating Point Unit
- RAM: 256 MB DDR3 SDRAM
- Memory: 512 MB NAND flash, 1 x micro SD card
- Communications: 802.11b/g/n/ac 2x2 Wi-Fi (Ensigma™ C4500 RPU), 802.15.4 6LoWPAN dedicated chip, Bluetooth 4.1 (Classic + Smart, respectively)
- Security: Dedicated TPM chip
- Ethernet: 1 x RJ45 Ethernet port
- Audio: 1 x 3.5mm input/output jack, 1 x S/PDIF input/output connector
- I/O: 32 x GPIO, 2 x mikroBUS i/f, 4 x PWM, 1 x SPI, 2 x UART, 2 x I2C, 5 x ADC, expansion headers, 14-pin EJTAG connector, 9 x indicator LEDs (7 x I/O, 1 x MCU),
- USB: 1 x micro USB 2.0 OTG
- Power: Micro USB (5V DC) or barrel adapter (9V DC)
- Dimensions: 100 mm x 106 mm
6LoWPAN Clicker expansion board
The 6LoWPAN Clicker is an amazingly compact, battery-powered development board which brings the innovative mikroBUS host socket to your favorite microcontroller.
Connect the desired click board to enhance it with awesome features and program it via the fast USB HID bootloader. Use it to upload your firmware and your Clicker will become a fully functional, standalone 6LoWPAN device.
The Clicker board features all you need to get started: a MIPS-based, 32-bit Microchip PIC32MX470F512H microcontroller, a USB connector, two LEDs and push buttons, a reset button, a mikroProg connector and the headers for interfacing with external electronics.
In addition, the 6LoWPAN Clicker board functions as a standalone wireless device thanks to two AAA batteries that can be fitted on the back of the board.
Click companion boards
- The Thermo 2 Click carries DS1825, a programmable resolution digital thermometer IC. It measures temperature within a range from –10°C to 85°C with ±0.5°C accuracy. You can specify the resolution of the measurements, from 9 to 12-bit, depending on the application. The board communicates with the target microcontroller through a 1-wire interface. Using the onboard jumper, you can choose between two mikroBUS pins for setting the output.
- The RELAY Click board features two G6D1AASI-5DC power PCB relay modules as well as two screw terminals. It communicates with target microcontroller via mikroBUS PWM (RL1) and CS (RL2) pins. LED diode (Green) indicates the presence of power supply. Control up to 5A, 250V AC/30V DC loads. The board is designed to use 5V power supply only, but communication lines voltage level can be in range between 1.8V and 5V. On-board transistors are used to drive relays by current sinking.
- The MOTION Click is a motion detector sensitive only to live bodies. It carries PIR500B, a pyroelectric sensor which generates a voltage when exposed to infrared light. The signal is processed by a BIS0001 PIR sensor controller which sends an interrupt to the MCU through the mikroBUS INT (out) line. An onboard potentiometer lets you adjust the detecting range of the sensor (up to 4 meters). MOTION Click also has a night only mode—resoldering a zero-ohm jumper activates the onboard photo resistor which acts as a light-sensitive switch. You can also switch the sensor ON and OFF by sending a signal from the MCU through the mikroBUS RST pin. The board uses a 3.3V power supply only.
Open source software and operating systems
The Creator Ci40 IoT kit runs a combination of open source operating systems and software stacks.
GNU/Linux distributions for the Creator Ci40 dev board
The GNU/Linux environment has everything you need for programming the board, including open source GNU tools and libraries optimized for the MIPS architecture, additional software and drivers, and documentation.
In addition, the Creator Ci40 development board can run Brillo, the brand new operating system for connected devices from Google featuring broad ecosystem support, fast development tools and advanced device administration capabilities.
Open source Contiki OS for the Clicker expansion boards
The Clicker boards run the Contiki OS, an open source operating system for the Internet of Things used to connect wireless devices to the Creator Ci40 IoT hub.
Contiki is released under a 3-clause BSD-style license and has many useful features for IoT development, including a small memory footprint, a full IP networking stack, standardized IETF protocols for low-power IPv6 networking, dynamic module loading, multi-threaded programming mechanisms, and more.
The full, open source software stack
Using the combination of the two operating systems above (OpenWrt and Contiki) as well as our FlowCloud IoT framework and other application-level components, we've built an entire software stack that enables you to connect wireless devices to the IoT hub using the 6LoWPAN low-power standard and transmit sensor readings to the cloud over Ethernet using FlowCloud.
The diagram below presents a high-level overview of the entire software stack.
The software requirements for IoT devices such as sensors and hubs can be quite different. Sensors typically run a real-time operating system and low-level applications on a microcontroller while hubs are powered by application processors that are capable of handling more complex workloads and rich operating systems.
The second image diagram presents a more detailed view of the same software stack. On the left you can see the software stack we've built for the battery-powered Clicker + Click standalone wireless device. This device uses a MIPS MCU and makes use of the highly efficient 6LoWPAN network protocol to reduce transmission time and save power.
The underlying physical layer (PHY) and media access layer (MAC) for the 6LoWPAN protocol is the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. You can use 802.15.4 as a basis to develop the upper layers for other IoT standards such as Thread, ZigBee, ISA100.11a, WirelessHART or MiWi.
In the center of the image, you can also observe our software stack for the Creator Ci40 IoT hub. This device acts as a server for the wireless devices, receiving and transmitting data to and from the wireless sensors and actuators, respectively. This device uses a powerful dual-core, dual-threaded MIPS interAptiv CPU processor and runs OpenWrt. In addition, the IoT hub also communicates with the FlowCloud server, transmitting the relevant data over Ethernet or other wired-based IEEE 802.3 protocols.
For the application-layer protocol, we are using the the Web services-based paradigm defined by the IETF Constrained RESTful Environments (CoRE) workgroup for IoT applications. The Creator Ci40 IoT kit uses a REST-based Web transfer protocol called the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) which includes several HTTP functionalities and is optimized for the low throughput/reduced energy consumption constraints of IoT devices. CoAP has been built over the UDP to take advantage of the reliability achieved through the transaction layer of the protocol.
In addition, Creator Ci40 uses the Lightweight M2M (LWM2M) protocol defined by the Open Mobile Alliance for M2M or IoT device management.
We plan to upload the entire software stack depicted above on our GitHub page so Creator developers can access it freely.
Our commitment to open source
Creator Ci40 is built on open source technologies, from the GNU/Linux-based operating system to the tools, libraries and cloud APIs. All hardware schematics and related board design files will be made available for free to the community.
In addition, Creator Ci40 uses open communications standards and interfaces that will enable you to modify, hack, study and customize your IoT kit accordingly.
Finally, multiple code samples and tutorials for our FlowCloud IoT API are already available on GitHub.
Connect to the cloud
Every Creator Ci40 IoT kit comes with FlowCloud, a complete software platform for connecting devices to the internet, enabling easy product registration and updates as well as access to partner-enabled services.
FlowCloud provides a comprehensive and application-independent underlying platform that enables rapid construction and management of machine-to-machine and man-to-machine connected services. We’ve designed it to specifically address the needs of the emerging cloud-connected IoT devices.
Here are some links that tell you more about what FlowCloud is and how you can use it:
And here are some examples of how developers can use FlowCloud:
- A connected climate monitoring and control system
- An energy metering and home automation system
- A secure electronic healthcare system
For every Creator Ci40 kit you order, we’re offering a free subscription that supports up to five connected devices. You also get access to a centralized dashboard to monitor usage, our full documentation, a support forum and open source APIs.
Programming the board
Everything is preconfigured to run seamlessly out of the box using tools and programming languages that are familiar to developers, including C/C++ and Python.
Study DIY electronics and IoT programming
Students and academics interested in programming and DIY electronics can use Creator Ci40 to improve their skills. We will offer basic coding tutorials and upload the full schematics of the board so you can experiment and tinker with the board and its subsystems.
Teach the MIPS CPU architecture
Educators can use Creator Ci40 to teach students about the MIPS architecture, focusing on unique features like hardware multithreading or multicore design.
Educators can also use Creator in laboratory work to illustrate practical examples of firmware programming, Linux-based operating systems, cloud computing or robotics.
- Creator t-shirt: £3 worldwide per reward
- Any Creator Ci40 dev board: £5 worldwide per reward
- Any Creator Ci40 IoT dev kit: £12 worldwide per reward
Traveller’s click pack
Pack your bags, and hit the road. It’s time for a road trip! Experience nature, people and cultures across the continents. You don’t need to leave breadcrumb trails along the way, just make a cool gadget with this Click pack and let it map your journey. The kit includes the following: a GPS Click, a microSD Click, a 8x8 G Click, a BUZZ Click and of course an Active GPS antenna. Give a name to every expedition you go to, keep your “captain’s log” full of juicy details, so you can one day tell the most amazing bedtime stories to your grandchildren.
Stretch goalsStretch goal #1: Three advanced code examples for the Creator Ci40 dev kit and FlowCloud (£30,000)
With your help, we can extend our code examples to include the following three:
Temperature logging in the cloud (stretch goal)
- Goal: Introduces how to collate, store and use multiple data sources
- Equipment: A Ci40 board, a wireless temperature sensor
- Users will experience: Advanced data store operations; visualization of data in graphic forms via the FlowCloud developer website; management of multiple devices
A mobile app for a wireless controller (stretch goal)
- Goal: Create a mobile app for a wireless controller
- Equipment: A Ci40 board, a wireless relay, a mobile phone
- Users will experience: Further mobile SDK development using the mobile device to send information via FlowCloud; create a mobile app that pushes controls to the relay board
A climate control system (stretch goal)
- Goal: Design an advanced project highlighting many aspects of IoT design, use of the Ci40 kit to build a real life solution
- Equipment: A Ci40 board, a wireless temperature sensor, a wireless relay
- Users will experience: Running local processing on Ci40 – to cope with potential loss of the Internet connection; temperature reading and decisions against thresholds to switch relay, log all temperature measurements to the data store; viewing current temperature value, relay state, and board states (alive or dead) on website; viewing subset of information on mobile application; use of the platform to build a real life solution
- Extensions: Add further temperature sensors. Show project with multi-zone heat controller and real radiator valve relays (TRVs)
Stretch goal #2: A free case for every Creator Ci40 dev board or dev kit purchased through Kickstarter (£35,000)
We've designed a prototype of the case for the Creator Ci40 dev board. We currently plan to release the source files so you can 3D print your own.
But if we get to £35,000, we can take this prototype into production and ship one case for every Creator Ci40 dev board or dev kit shipped from Kickstarter.
Stretch goal #3: Implementing over-the-air (OTA) update capabilities (£50,000)
This feature will enable you to update the GNU/Linux operating system and associated software running on the Creator Ci40 dev board over the air using our cloud infrastructure.
Who is behind Creator?
We are a group of passionate engineers, nerds and geeks working for Imagination Technologies, a global technology leader whose products touch the lives of people across the globe.
- Paul: Prior to joining Imagination, Paul worked for Altera Corporation for 11 years looking after the mid-range Arria FPGA family. At Imagination, Paul manages some of the most hard-working engineers and developers that are responsible for designing and building the Creator family of development boards, including all aspects related to hardware and software development.
- Alexandru: After working on the hardware design of several CPUs used inside today’s mobile devices, Alex has joined the marketing team at Imagination and is now a technology spokesperson for the company. He writes (a lot!) of our press releases, technical blog articles and whitepapers and manages our social media channels. You can follow Alex on Twitter (@alexvoica) or get in touch with him on reddit (/u/alexvoica).
- Duncan: Duncan is our in-house application development manager for FlowCloud and the Creator kit product owner. He oversees the application side of many technologies developed at Imagination, bringing up and demonstrating projects for our FlowCloud IoT solution. Think of him as your go-to person for technical support and questions.
- Keno: Keno is a Project Engineer within our IMGsystems division with a background in Manufacturing Engineering. His focus is on our Creator projects working with teams across disciplines to bring the overall Ci40 project together. Keno especially pays attention to our alpha and beta trials and feeds back the improvements to our hardware and software teams, helping them to develop better and more affordable products
Imagination offers a broad range of semiconductor IP (intellectual property) that includes the key processing blocks (MIPS, PowerVR, Ensigma) needed to create the SoCs that power all mobile, consumer and embedded electronics. These hardware blocks are complemented by unique software components, infrastructure technologies and system solutions enable its customers to get to market quickly with complete and highly differentiated SoC platforms.
We have worked hard to create a solution that is flexible, supports multiple open standards and is extremely easy to use. Join us in our quest to bring Ci40 to mass production and turn it into a success story for IoT and connected computing.
Leave us your feedback in the comments section and share this project on social media and with your friends.
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At Imagination, we are always building solutions that address fundamental problems in society.
The Internet of Things is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment. If you'd like to join Imagination and work on Creator and other related projects, please submit your CV to creator (at) imgtec (dot) com with the subject line: Regarding open positions at Creator.
Thank you for your help and support!
Risks and challenges
Imagination has extensive experience in designing and building high quality products that meet and exceed customer expectations.
We have built several prototypes of the Creator Ci40 IoT kit and our dedicated hardware and software teams are working hard to finalize and deliver the project on time. However, like many Kickstarter projects, there are still a number of important challenges that we need to solve before we can ship the final version of the Creator Ci40 IoT kit to every backer.
Before going into mass production for the chip and the board, we aim to iron out the last software-related issues in the next months.
We can’t guarantee that we will be able to ship a fully certified kit for backers living outside of North America, Europe, Japan and China.
To help us overcome this challenge, we are working closely with our advisors who have over 10 years of experience retailing electronic products to customers worldwide. If ultimately, we can’t ship to your local region, we will refund your pledge to you.
You have our promise that we will be completely transparent about our work. We will use this website, social media and our own dedicated webpages to keep you informed at every stage about the progress we’re making and any issues that might appear.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We are using Kickstarter because it’s a great platform for putting innovative products directly into the hands of consumers. The Creator family is a new venture for Imagination and therefore we want to use Kickstarter to hear what makers, developers and entrepreneurs have to say about our IoT kit directly. The Creator Ci40 dev kit is representative of our vision for next-generation, MIPS-based IoT architectures. A successful outcome of our crowdfunded campaign means we will deliver the IoT kit and associated software much faster compared to a traditional sales channel route.
The Creator Ci40 development board is powered by cXT200, an application processor based on a reference IP subsystem designed by Imagination for IoT applications. Manufactured by GLOBALFOUNDRIES using a 40nm process node, the cXT200 SoC includes a dual-core, dual-threaded MIPS interAptiv CPU and an Ensigma C4500 RPU. You can read more about our licensable IP subsystems here.
The Clicker board uses a Microchip PIC32MX microcontroller that integrates a MIPS M4K CPU.
Imagination is an active member of several cross-industry organizations dedicated to promoting open and secure standards for IoT, including the Thread Group, the AllSeen Alliance and the prpl Foundation. We are currently working with our partners to assess the resources needed to support other 802.15.4-based stacks, including the Thread protocol.
No, we are not. We’ve always stated that Creator Ci20 was the first member in a family of boards that will scale from tiny modules to high-performance computing platforms. We have built a dedicated community around our the Ci20 dev board and continue to provide regular software updates for Debian and Android for as long as there is demand for it. Creator Ci20 will continue to sell for £50/$65 from our store.
Please refer to the official Brillo page from Google: https://developers.google.com/brillo/
The kit comes with a USB power cable. If you have a more power hungry application (e.g. inertial loads such as motors), you will need to use an external power supply. We typically recommend a 9V, 1.5A PSU. The absolute maximum limit of the board is 9V, 3A.
Yes, the LEDs on the board are user programmable. They have a standard red color.
Yes, the NAND flash is easily flashable. This should help you recover from any incident or if you decide to change the operating system or upgrade to newer versions when they become available.
We are planning to make them available as soon as possible, most likely around the time the boards will start shipping.
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