If I were to ask you when the Internet of Things (IoT) was born, you’d probably say sometime in the last decade. It’s important to remember, though, that connected devices have been with us for over a half a century. Back in 1981, Hayes Communications introduced a solution to reuse existing cable modem data lines by enabling software that could control a modem’s activity. This solution, later known as ATtention (AT) commands, revolutionized the computer industry and enabled easy and simple man-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication.
AT commands was such a successful solution that it stayed in use throughout the years, surpassing its original use in dial-up modems and continuing to be the de-facto application programming interface (API) standard in modern 2/3/4G cellular modems and other up-to-date communication devices. This means that there is a huge market of connected devices out there that rely on AT commands and need to add IoT connectivity to their systems.
Companies often want to refresh legacy systems by adding new connectivity support options without developing completely new software. Therefore, any activity usually comes with a hefty cost in terms of both time and money. As shown in Figure 1, an alternative solution would be to add Wi-Fi connectivity, by using the AT commands protocol to connect the existing system(s) (software and hardware) to the cloud without being required to do major software and hardware design changes.
Figure 1: Adding IoT capabilities to a legacy system
TI recently released an AT commands software library for the SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC32xx wireless microcontroller (MCU) that fully supports all SimpleLink networking capabilities via AT commands. For customers working with AT commands, this software library will make integration that much easier, directly reducing time to market and the level of investment required.
The CC32xx AT commands library was designed in a modular way and provides much more than the older AT commands interface for networking device capabilities. As shown in Figure 2, it is possible to easily add more capabilities to the AT command library by modifying the AT command application layer.
Figure 2: Basic architecture scheme for AT commands
The SimpleLink Wi-Fi AT commands solution consists of two main modules:
As shown in Figure 3, with only four simple serial UART commands, a system can scan a Wi-Fi network, connect to a Wi-Fi router, open a TCP socket and connect to a remote server.
Figure 3: AT commands – UART terminal screenshot
The SimpleLink Wi-Fi AT commands offering is an easy-to-use solution that provides CC32xx platform networking capabilities in a modular and scalable fashion, from simply controlling the CC32xx device from an external MCU located on the same physical platform using the UART interface, to controlling the device from a remote MCU over a TCP cloud connection.
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