When Texas Instruments released the LPSTK kit (we pronounce it lipstick) a while back, we were excited to try it out for new customer projects.
At Thingsquare, we build many Internet of Things products and do IoT projects together with our customers, and the LPSTK seemed like a great way to get those moving forward quickly.
(By the way: this article is not sponsored by Texas Instruments, this is just us sharing our excitement.)
We have now been using the LPSTK for a few months. These are the top 7 reasons why we like them:
- They are the real thing: unlike Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, the LPSTKs are meant to be turned in products.
- They are battery-powered: they don’t need to be plugged into a power cable
- Can be put in the hands of customers: there are no electronics sticking out
- Easy to test at scale: to see how the product will work in the wild, just get a bunch of LPSTKs and test it
- Sub-GHz and Bluetooth with a single chip: talk to the cloud and Bluetooth accessories at the same time
- Easy to expand: just attach your custom hardware to the expansion ports
- They are readily available: for $30 a piece
1. They are the real thing
Unlike many other development kits, like the Arduinos and the Raspberry Pis, the LPSTKs are the real thing: they can be converted into a real product.
Arduinos and Raspberry Pis are primarily intended for experimentation and hobbyist projects, and are difficult to use for products that are produced commercially.
By contrast, the LPSTK is built around the TI CC1352R chip, which can be directly used in a custom circuit board. This can then be sold as a part of a commercial product.
2. They are battery-powered
The IoT typically require devices to be battery powered, but many of the available IoT development platforms require a power cable.
The LPSTK uses batteries – and pretty big batteries. This makes it possible to use them without a power cable.
The batteries are two AAA batteries, which are larger than the coin cell batteries of the previous generation Sensortag. These can last for years even with quite heavy operation.
3. Can be put in the hands of customers
The LPSTKs come in a convenient plastic case with a rubber sleeve. This make them suitable for use directly in the hands of customers.
This is in contrast to traditional electronics development kits that consist of naked circuit boards. Not something that you would give to customers.
Because early customer feedback is crucial, you really want to be able to get your product in front of customers as soon as possible.
4. Easy to test at scale
Because the LPSTKs are relatively small and low-cost, it is possible to run scalability tests quickly.
Let’s say that the IoT product will be used by hundreds of people at the same time. Will this work, for real? With the LPSTK, you can just buy 100 LPSTKs and try it out.
5. Sub-GHz and Bluetooth on a single chip
The chip inside the LPSTK, CC1352R, has both Bluetooth and sub-GHz radios.
The sub-GHz radio is perfect for large-scale wireless IoT communication.
The Bluetooth radio can be used to communicate directly with smartphones or with other Bluetooth equipment, such as fitness trackers.
Because they are both on the same chip, there are no tricky trade-offs in terms of electronics design or firmware development.
Also, since everything is on the same chip, it is easy to measure and track the power consumption of the system.
6. They are expandable
The LPSTKs have a bunch of pins that can be used to add additional hardware.
This is important because pretty much every new IoT product or project uses custom hardware. This hardware can easily be attached to the LPSTK, without even having to solder anything.
7. They are readily available
We saved the most important benefit to last: the LPSTKs can be easily purchased from the TI website, for a very modest price of $30.
The LPSTK is a great tool when building both IoT solutions and the business prototypes that come before them.
Thingsquare are using the LPSTK in several ongoing customer projects. Would you like to do this too? Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to schedule a demo!