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AWS IoTAmazon is jumping into the Internet of Things, but not with a physical product. Instead, the company wants to provide the backbone for a world of connected devices by letting developers harness the power of Amazon Web Services.

The new AWS IoT, announced today at the company’s re:Invent developer conference, lets developers take advantage of Amazon’s cloud services for their internet-connected devices — everything from lightbulbs and fans to cars and wind turbines. The company says the new service can support “billions of devices and trillions of messages” and focuses on delivering data securely and reliably.

Werner Vogels (photo by Leonid Mamchenkov.)
Werner Vogels (photo by Leonid Mamchenkov.)

“Connected does not necessarily mean useful,” said Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels at the on-stage debut of AWS IoT. Currently, he said, many companies using AWS for IoT devices rely on middleware to translate protocols and keep up with the high volume of data flowing from those devices.

With Amazon’s new system, developers can build the cloud backend for their IoT devices with an SDK that provides a robust system without the need for major cloud development. AWS IoT integrates with Lambda, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon S3, Amazon Machine Learning and Amazon DynamoDB.

As an example, hand sanitizers at the re:Invent show floor used AWS IoT to report how full they were, and could be coded to order more sanitizing solution when running low. Instead of building their own cloud software, the hand sanitizer creator used AWS frameworks to power its devices.

AWS IoT how it works

Amazon is providing a few special features for AWS IoT developers. With the hundreds of thousands of devices a single company may have in service, making sure each one is secure could be a headache. AWS IoT has Amazon’s device management software built in and will encrypt all data between devices and the cloud. AWS IoT also automatically creates “Device Shadows,” which store the last state of a device so it can still be interacted with even if it’s offline.

The company is also selling starter kits from Broadcom, Intel, Mediatek, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and others, with the AWS IoT SDK built in. Developers can use the starter kits to build and test IoT devices that are powered by the AWS cloud.

Amazon has been working on IoT things for a while now. The company purchased Denver-based IoT startup 2lemetry earlier this year. That startup uses data from connected devices to improve the efficiency of operations and accelerate product development.

Amazon isn’t alone in building out the IoT world. IBM is spending $3 billion over the next five years to build out IoT systems around the globe. Microsoft has a IoT-focused startup accelerator and even has a version of Windows 10 made just for IoT devices.

A beta of AWS IoT is already running, and developers can sign up to test it out now.

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