In the fast-growing IoT space, you have thousands of solution providers, products and services. Alone in the IoT platform world, there are over 620 different IoT platforms globally right now. But not all of these are equally accessible. Most IoT platform services are proprietary and behind a paywall. So what do you do if you want to test if an IoT platform is right for you without an initial investment? What if you want to continue your work after the free trial expires? Or what if you simply want to keep it small at first? Well, you need a free IoT platform.
We know that pricing is important when choosing the right IoT platform. But equally so, it is important to have the freedom to experiment and innovate on your own terms, at your own pace, in an environment that is always accessible for a full developer experience. Thankfully, more and more vendors make this possible with free IoT platforms that stay free. And we have prepared a list of 6 IoT free platforms that allow you to do just that: Build a small-scale IoT project while exploring the full functionality of the platform.
IoT platform software and services
Below is a brief overview of the main functionalities of the IoT platforms we are considering in this article:
IoT device management
This is already the standard for increased device visibility — at a very basic level, you have a space for connecting, managing, monitoring, and controlling IoT devices. Here you also get various device management tools that provide information on device performance in near real-time and allow for updates of individual devices or whole device fleets from one central location.
IoT development toolchain
This is a recent functionality especially geared towards a good developer experience. Many IoT platforms come with tools for developing and improving IoT apps, some even have an IoT app store with ready-made app templates. IoT development capabilities frequently supplement low-code or no-code platform offerings to ensure maximum freedom to innovate and customize.
IoT data analytics
The data coming from various device fleets matters immensely. Extracting that data and making it available for analysis is the first step towards greater insight. This is why IoT data collection and IoT analytics capabilities are essential to IoT platforms. Ideally, an IoT platform not only increases the visibility of all assets but also supports in harvesting, cleansing & modeling the data, and visualizing the insights. AIoT platforms go one step further in that they also come with advanced analytics capabilities and the possibility to build & run machine learning models.
Security by design
Today, it is standard for most IoT platforms to offer built-in security that may or may not be supplemented with additional software tools.
Resources & a community for developers
To overcome the initial onboarding hurdle and guide users towards self-sufficiency quickly, IoT platforms are expected to offer detailed resources and self-service programs. Along with that, a growing user community will offer help with building and deploying IoT apps or fleet-building.
So here is our list:
Known as the cloud IoT platform with MATLAB analytics, ThingSpeak allows you to aggregate, analyze, and visualize live data streams. IoT devices send their live data directly to ThingSpeak. From there, you create instant visualizations and can send alerts using web services. Essentially, however, you write and execute MATLAB code to do your data preparation, visualization tasks, and analyses. As a cloud platform, ThingSpeak makes it possible to build IoT projects without the need to develop your own software. Also, you don’t have to set up a server.
Non-commercial users can use ThingSpeak for free. Free accounts stay free but have some limitations when it comes to specific functionalities. Commercial users have the possibility to test the platform in a free version for a limited period. The free IoT platform also offers paid plans for academic, student, and home usage that allow you to send more data and connect more devices.
As a hardware-agnostic IoT platform, Blynk.io comes with device management, data analytics, and machine learning functionalities while allowing you to connect to any device. You also have a mobile app constructor that allows you to build IoT apps per drag-and-drop. You get a variety of ready-made widgets to create white-labeled native iOS and Android apps for any use case.
Blynk comes with a free Developer plan intended for personal use. IoT engineers, developers and tinkerers can test the platform and build their own IoT projects. The free version
- allows you to add up to 5 IoT devices for free,
- comes with a selection of free mobile apps for Android and iOS,
- gives you some limited free cloud data storage and libraries to work with the hardware of your choice.
These capacities are enough for a first prototype or for building a first small-scale IoT project. Blynk’s free version is not suitable for commercial use.
Record Evolution Platform
The Record Evolution platform is a cloud service built to facilitate the development of AI solutions for IoT edge devices. The end-to-end hardware-agnostic platform for IoT & AI comes with tools covering the entire IoT development cycle. This includes device management, OTA IoT app development in a cloud IDE and instant deployment plus a data warehousing toolchain. Here, you start from data collection from devices, transformation and modeling all the way to advanced analytics and machine learning.
Designed for collaboration, the simple-to-use interfaces make AI accessible to analysts and engineers. At the same time, it makes IoT implementation tangible to data scientists. The platform serves as an organization-wide decentral hub for organising teams and conducting IoT projects, effectively providing broad IoT enablement within any organisation.
In the free version of the platform, users already have enough resources to build a small-scale IoT project. This can be the first step for startups, freelancers and data enthusiasts. The free plan includes:
- an unlimited number of product collaborators, devices, and IoT apps,
- a free data pod (a compact data warehouse with compute resources sufficient for a small project),
- free app days allowing you to run about two IoT apps on devices for free.
This way, you can connect and manage your IoT devices for free, develop and deploy applications over-the-air.
Once you have switched to a paid plan, the billable assets of the platform are the compute resources (CPU cores, memory, storage, network) required to run data science tasks and the so-called app days, i.e. the time an IoT app is running on an IoT device in development or in production.
Self-describing as a “complete edge-to-cloud platform”, Particle.io also contains all the building blocks for developing an IoT product. This includes connectivity, device management, and even the hardware required to prototype IoT solutions and scale quickly thanks to the robust infrastructure. The platform supports IoT data collection and over-the-air development in a cloud IDE to make developers happy.
Particle has a free Starter plan that includes the basics for every developer such as
- a console for device and fleet management,
- access to the suite of developer tools and firmware libraries,
- standard OTA device updates and diagnostics (device vitals),
- basic cellular data.
The Starter plan comes with the Particle device OS, the platform’s web IDE, the Particle device cloud, and allows users to connect an unlimited number of devices. You can also invite product collaborators and get community support.
Thinger.io is a free open-source IoT platform. It comes with a readily scalable cloud infrastructure that allows users to easily connect and manage devices from anywhere. Thinger places a great emphasis on the developer experience, focusing on clean designs and easy coding. This is another hardware-agnostic IoT platform so you can connect almost anything you want.
Thinger has a Maker plan that is free and targets developers, students, makers, or private tinkerers working on IoT. The plan includes
- a single developer,
- the possibility to connect up to two devices,
- access to the community cloud,
- the platform’s basic features.
The platform’s basic features entail IoT device management, data buckets, access tokens, dashboards, and endpoints.
As a developer-centric platform, Thinger enjoys a large developer community.
Upswift.io allows you to manage connected Linux & IoT devices from anywhere, which includes updating, monitoring and controlling at scale. Another hardware-agnostic platform, Upswift prides itself in making it possible to connect any device to the platform in less than 60 seconds and seamlessly grow your fleet to millions of devices. This IoT platform is solely focused on connectivity and device management. So the offering is less extensive than that of its counterparts but is built to be especially robust.
You can test the platform in the free Prototype version. This includes the full-featured Upswift management platform. You have the possibility to
- add up to three devices,
- create up to three device groups,
- invite up to three additional team members.
The functionalities that come with that are remote access and control, OTA updates, remote commands, one processes monitor, plus a data and resources monitor, logs of up to 10 MB monthly, and a map view.
Let’s chat! Get in touch to discuss your use case and see which IoT platform is right for you.
About Record Evolution
We are a Data Science & IoT team based in Frankfurt am Main, committed to helping companies of all sizes to innovate at scale. So we’ve built an easy-to-use development platform enabling everyone to benefit from the powers of IoT and AI.