Cellular is Becoming Mainstream for IoT Developers -Don’t Miss Out, Here’s How to Start for Free

/ Written By benstr

Even though cellular connectivity for devices has been available for more than a decade, very few developers have experience using it in their connected products. I believe there are a few reasons for this – high hardware prices, monthly network fees, varying network coverage, lack of decent software abstractions, heavy power requirements, and access to a SIM card.

The majority of our work at Hologram focuses around eliminating these barriers.

To date, we’ve tackled opening hardware, open software, coverage with the largest carrier-redundant global network and access to the free Developer Plan. This leaves two remaining barriers, high hardware prices and heavy power requirements – two issues that will soon be solved with next-gen LTE Cat-M1 and NB modules and networks.

Objects are Closer than they Appear

Imagine global cellular modules as small as an ESP-32, radically energy efficient and as affordable as $9! I’m not announcing a new product today, but I am saying our industry will be releasing these products. I see them approaching quickly, and you can bet Hologram’s global network will support them. Recently we released our first LTE Cat-M1 product, the Hologram Nova M1.

Have all the major barriers been removed? Technically yes, socially no. With everything now solved that initially turned people away from cellular, we’re confronted with the challenge of changing the perception of cellular. This reveals one last barrier, education. The bottom side of this iceberg.

One Last Barrier – Education

Learning new skills, becoming proficient with new tools is hard and mentally painful. Our lizard brains amplify these feelings. It makes sure we feel the frustration, so we avoid it next time an opportunity to learn new tech presents itself. The question arises, can we as developers afford to let our skillset stagnate? I hope the small voice inside every developer is yelling “no!”

In tech we celebrate explorers.

At Hologram we want to support explorers, those of us who thrive working on the edge of technology. In many ways, Cellular for IoT is about to go through a rebirth. Our industry will need new tools/abstractions to be developed and old popular tools updated to support cellular. Now is the time for developers to begin getting acquatinted (or reacquainted) with cellular hardware.

Get Involved Now

We’ve some exciting developer opportunities happening over the next few months. Below are some of those initiatives.

Hackster LIVE Workshops

Hackster Cellular IoT Contest

We’ve partnered with Hackster to host a series of LIVE events in November to educate developers about cellular. So far we have three LIVE events in the works. I hope you can join us for them, but if you can’t, recordings will be available on YouTube.

– Walking through the Hologram platform, November 3rd
– Building a WiFi to Cellular Gateway, November 9th
– Cellular IoT Contest Show-n-Tell + Q/A, November 17th

Sign up for the Hackster contest to be notified. Projects are not required.

Hack a Day Super Conference Cellular Module Workshop

Hackaday SuperConference

For the ambitious, Chris Gammell and I will be hosting a workshop at this year’s SuperConference on November 11th and 12th in Pasadena. This workshop will be a master class walking through how to interact with cellular modules through serial with AT Commands. We’ll dive into the nuances and show off a new cellular board Chris designed for the Pocket Beagle using Hologram’s open-sourced Nova designs.

Purchase tickets for Super Conference here. Hurry, they’re nearly sold out.

Hackster Cellular IoT Contest with Raspberry Pi

We’re currently hosting a pretty epic (IMHO) global Hackster contest right now. With help from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we’re sending out 200 kits to developers around the world. Giving each developer the chance to experience working with the Hologram Nova and compete to win a new Apple Series 3 Cellular Watch for the best projects.

Submit your project before October 27th to be eligible for a kit.

Instructables Wireless Competition

We’ve partnered with Instructables to sponsor their Wireless Competition. I’d encourage you to head over to the contest page and submit a wireless project for a chance to win a MacBook. Get started with the Affordable Cellular Tutorial I published on Instructables.

Publish your instructable by December 11th or vote for your favorite entry.

What’s Next?

A lot of great things are happening right now, but to tell you the truth these special projects are just getting started.

We’re increasing our investment in customer success, support, and developer relations. I think there are some cool things on our developer outreach roadmap and stoked to share more information about them as soon as I’m able. Make sure to follow along as we give sneak peaks on Twitter and Instagram.


BE SURE TO ENTER ONE OF OUR CONTESTS.
AND CHECK OUT OUR COMMUNITY FORUM FOR TIPS AND INSPIRATION.


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Ben (benstr) Strahan – Head of Developer Relations
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