IoT Plug and Play - Preview for Partners and Developers
By GENNA JOUDREY
During Microsoft Build 2019, IoT Plug and Play was announced for the first time and is now available for preview. The goal of IoT Plug and Play is for users to connect any device into a Windows PC without requiring drivers. Through device capability models, defined with the Digital Twin definition language (link), solution developers can interact with IoT devices. Microsoft partners have already launched devices that are IoT Plug and Play enabled. This new feature allows for a faster, simplified IoT process, creates open collaboration, and a streamlined certification process for partners who are ready to “plug and play”.
Azure IoT Central is a solution that makes it easy to connect, monitor, and manage your IoT devices. This is essential when operating IoT solutions because it cuts time and operational costs of a typical project. Azure IoT Central has enabled both developers and partners to build with ease. They are able to create their own SaaS products faster than ever, while Microsoft handles the difficult aspects of managing IoT solutions. Solution developers can start with a certified device and customize the experience, such as editing names or units. They can also add dashboards for solution operations to visualize the data.
The IoT Plug and Play preview enables developers to integrate devices with their solutions without writing any embedded code. As mentioned above, this schema is a JSON document that includes the following:
Properties represent the state of a device or other entity.
Telemetry is data sent from a device, whether it’s readings, errors, or informational messages.
Commands describe an operation, such as taking a photo.
IoT Plug and Play works with Azure Digital Twins through the Digital Twin Definition Language, or DTDL. Both platforms are available to the community and are based on open W3C standards, JSON-LD and RDF, which allows for easier adoption. There are no extra fees for IoT Plug and Play and DTDL if one is already an IoT and Azure user. Once live, all solutions built on Azure IoT will support IoT Plug and Play. Modeling properties, telemetry, commands, and semantic types will be supported as well. One example, Compal GT100 tracker, displays telemetry in Azure IoT Central and is available in IoT Plug and Play.
Customers can find which Azure IoT certified device they need by using the Azure Certified for IoT Device catalog. The catalog has been updated in the preview and now has a new portal and submission process. Device partners can manage their models in their company repository, which is only available to those who have security access. This is where partners can certify their products through an automated validation process that ensures the Digital Twin definition language has been set up properly.
Microsoft provides an ample amount of resources to get started with IoT Plug and Play. If you are a developer looking to create a product, the first step is to find a device through the Azure Certified for IoT device catalog. The process involves two key steps:
1. Define the device capability model and interfaces. You author a set of JSON files that declare your device’s capabilities using the DTDL. A device capability model describes a complete entity, such as a physical product and defines the set of interfaces implemented by that entity. Interfaces are shared contracts that uniquely identify the telemetry, properties, and commands supported by a device. They can be reused across different device capability models.
2. Author the device software or firmware that implements the capabilities declared in the device capability model and interfaces. The Azure IoT SDK includes APIs to implement device capability models.
After completion of the product, you can submit for certification. You can publish a certified device in the Certified for IoT device catalog. The certification steps are as follows:
– Join the Microsoft Partner Network, if you aren’t already.
– Onboard to Certified for Azure IoT portal.
– Submit an IoT Plug and Play device capability models and marketing information to create a new device record.
– Pass an automated set of validation tests for the device.
– Publish to the Certified for IoT device catalog.