Imagination hopes Creator board will woo IoT developers to its MIPS platform

Imagination's Creator board supports Google's Brillo OS and Thread IoT protocol

Chip maker Imagination Technologies is readying a new development board to help hardware designers connect smart devices to the Internet.

The Creator Ci40 is intended for use in smart home hubs, robots and other connected devices and its main advantage for Internet-of-Things applications, according to Imagination, is how connected it is.

Its array of network interfaces include Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE (also known as Bluetooth Smart), IEEE 802.15.4 (the physical layer underlying Zigbee) and 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over low-power wireless personal-area network). To make things even easier, Imagination is offering to ship the Creator with a pair of Clicker battery-powered 6LoWPAN boards and three Click sensor modules from MikroElektronika to round out the development platform.

The centerpiece of the board is a custom-built 550MHz, dual-core MIPS chip, the cXT200, giving it enough power to operate as a wireless router running Linux or OpenWrt, and as an IoT hub.

Imagination acquired the MIPS processor architecture in 2012, but the company made a name for itself before that, with the PowerVR graphics processor architecture -- licensed by, among others, Apple for use in its iPad and iPhone.

Rather than try to extend the Apple collaboration into the home automation field, though, Imagination is now courting Google: The Creator board features support not for Apple's HomeKit but for Google's Thread IoT protocol. The board can also run Brillo, Google's IoT OS, and will receive regular updates and patches from Google every six months, Imagination said.

Imagination is selling the Creator boards through a KickStarter campaign -- but it isn't relying on crowdfunding for the capital to produce its first batch: It's using it as a marketing tool, like a number of other established technology companies. Sony has gone so far as to set up its own crowdfunding platform.

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