Connect a Raspberry Pi to the IBM Watson IoT Platform

Getting started with Watson IoT is as easy as Pi

The Raspberry Pi has fueled the maker culture by offering more power than many low-end devices. With millions sold worldwide, it has become a symbol of innovation and creativity for the Internet of Things (IoT). Because many engineers begin tinkering with IoT ideas on a Raspberry Pi, IBM has committed to the Pi ecosystem to deliver a powerful prototyping environment for cognitive IoT solutions.

Also, because Pi is an open platform, people are using it for many purposes, including:

  • automating household appliances
  • building security systems
  • simulating arcade cabinets
  • creating sensor based solutions for garage doors.

On the surface, these ideas sound like home uses, but once created, they can easily be expanded into enterprise or industrial settings.

Raspberry Pi 3.

This is why many developers and engineers use Raspberry Pi to create their first mock-ups to see how they might work. “It's inexpensive, it has the I/O and sensors, you can connect it to other things, make it do something, and program it very easily from almost any operating system — Linux, Windows, Mac,” said Bret Greenstein, vice president of Watson Internet of Things Platform. “It’s super-easy to connect to, deploy your code to and do something interesting.”

Raspberry Pi is a game-changer because for the first time and at a low entry price point, makers can do everything they can do on a computer, but at the device level, moving from simulating devices in an IoT solution to using a real one. According to Greenstein, this is significant because as soon as you use a real device versus a simulated one, you’ll encounter the same problems that customers or users have in the real world, such as handling passwords and IDs across multiple devices or wondering what will happen when the device restarts and you lose your work.

“These are all real-world things that, as soon as you begin playing and using a real device, you can start to see the implications of,” said Greenstein.

The Raspberry Pi integrates nicely with the IBM Watson IoT platform. You’re able to connect it directly into the IoT platform, get data from it, interact with it, oversee device management on it, and treat it as any other smart device. This makes it easy to begin prototyping and simulating ideas in the Raspberry Pi environment. The ability to get hardware that combines power and openness while working with real things, instead of a simulation, gives you the freedom to take average products and make them smart, connected devices while also building out innovative solutions around them.

Impact on the industry

“What’s really happening with IoT is that the regular objects are becoming aware — not consciously aware, but they’re becoming an active part of a business process,” Greenstein said. “So every light, every sensor, every thermostat, every printer, they’re all part of your business. And now you can actually see what’s happening with them, you can interact with them, and you can collect data from them.”

What this means is that you’ll no longer need to see if your printer is out of toner, for example, or if the coffee machine is working, because they’ll be part of your business network. These devices will be able to tell you what’s happening around them, such as whether people are walking by, how many people are in the room, or if something isn’t working properly.

Raspberry Pi can represent one of those smart endpoints in your business. If you can add intelligence to the devices within your business, imagine how much more efficient you can be.

In fact, these devices can get even smarter. You can add microphones,  cameras and many other sensors to a Raspberry Pi, and it could listen and see for you. You can feed the data directly into Watson, and it could understand.

“The computing power it took to put a camera, microphone, and have that capability in a machine that costs thousands of dollars was nearly impossible only a few years ago, and now we can use Watson in the cloud for free, connected to a Raspberry Pi for $35, with a webcam that costs $5,” Greenstein said. “We can take an interactive voice recognition system, prototype it, then create it.”


With all of its capabilities, Raspberry Pi is set to inspire current and future generations of engineers, developers, and hobbyists. When you democratize computer and design capabilities through access, flexibility, and power while making it available to everyone, you create an environment of unlimited possibilities. Raspberry Pi is open and powerful enough for you to do wild experiments that might fail, but you don’t have to worry about wasting your investment and can just try again.

Now take that idea and combine it with the cloud, and you’ve got yourself a game-changer. You can take a programmable, fully open computer and combine it with cloud services, which means that you’ll have the power of the cloud no matter where you are. Then you can get a hold of all the services in Bluemix, IBM’s hybrid cloud platform, to interact directly with your Raspberry Pi.

“Think of it this way: we connect the Raspberry Pi into the Watson IoT Platform so developers or engineers can interact with it — send commands, receive data from it — basically, your device is exposed to Watson IoT like a service in Bluemix,” Greenstein said.  “That means you can write applications in Bluemix that use the data from it. And it's at that point that you're coding at the Bluemix level. From there, [you] can either do development on the Pi itself, or you can do development in the cloud, having the Pi connected to the cloud.”

Once you have the creativity of the IBM’s Watson IoT Platform and Bluemix environment, along with the data and the access to a device such as Raspberry Pi, what comes next is up to your imagination.

Learn more:


The rise of edge computing

Edge computing in IoT is opening new opportunities for embedded designers. FPGAs can be used to aggregate data, and once in place can also process that data and deliver real time analytics. Coupled wi...

Secure Software Licensing for Industry 4.0

The future of the industry is digital and intelligent. At the core of the new infrastructure, we find Cyber Security 4.0 and Digital Business 4.0, both facilitated by CodeMeter Embedded 2.0. The b...

Building Secure & Reliable IoT Devices

Network security will be one of the defining issues for embedded developers connecting to the IoT. Mass connectivity will present new risks as companies transmit and store data to create much rich...

Making things come alive in a secure way

Considering the security of one single business application is not enough anymore. With the IoT, multiple applications across multiple industries can share and exchange data across different types...

Monitoring and Securing the Smart Grid

Smart grids use phasor measurement units (PMUs) to assess and manage independently operated grid systems. National Instruments, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and OSIsoft created a "best of bree...

IoT Kit Pairs Gateway with Cloud Platform

Few companies have expertise in both embedded design and Big Data—or know how to combine these domains. The Advantech IoT Gateway Starter Kit simplifies matters. Find out how this gateway co...

Vending Machine IoT Makeovers

Operators of large vending machine fleets need ways to update these machines to profit from Internet of Things advantages. Explore a retrofit solution engineered by Bsquare and AAEON that uses a I...

Protecting IP in the IoT with Trusted Computing

In this on-demand webinar Steve Hanna, Senior Principal at Infineon Technologies, and Guenther Fischer, Senior Consultant Licensing and Protection at Wibu-Systems, present a broad picture that hig...

LTE-A for Data Intensive IoT Applications

LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) is the latest enhancement to LTE. As its name implies, LTE-A is well suited to applications that need the next level of performance. Find out how to improve practical data rates a...

The Rise of the IoT Analytics Gateway

Collecting large amounts of edge data and sending it to the cloud can slow network performance and increase storage costs. Learn how equipping IoT gateways with dual-core processors enables analyz...

Creating embedded systems enhanced with IoT

Engineering a bridge between the physical world and the online universe Engineers have gained some design flexibility with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the many options for produc...

Turning Healthcare Data into Value

Everyone wants to reduce healthcare costs and improve care. Tapping Big Data helps accomplish both. Discover how an IoT health analytics platform monitors patient populations and helps improve wel...

Six Hidden Costs in a 99 Cent Wireless SoC

When adding wireless functionality, the two approaches generally available include using a system-on-a-chip (SoC) or a module. The SoC is lower cost, but comes with various unknowns of how to desi...

What’s the right security for IoT?

As our world transforms into a highly connected architecture, security has become a strategic concern. Impacts extend beyond financial losses into the physical realm. This video will give you a quick ...

Licensing and Security for the Internet of Things

The IoT needs much stronger protection than the closed systems of the past. Safeguards against reverse engineering and manipulation are required along the entire design chain – from the hard...

M2M Communications and the Internet-of-Things

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communications used to be a niche topic. But today it is regarded as the key technology of a networked, mobile future. On this microsite we present a collection of White Paper...

Planning a scalable long-term wireless strategy

For companies with global deployments, there is no single right answer for planning a scalable long-term wireless strategy. The best option, focus on solutions that allow for reuse of development, tes...

IoT makes Smart Foundation for vacation resort

Vacation resorts are looking for ways to help conserve water and energy while improving guest comfort and enjoyment. With the rapid growth of the Internet of Things and the increasing availability...

Connect building systems to the IoT

In this article, we will explain how smart buildings can connect to the cloud, and show how building owners, equipment providers, and service companies can benefit from this connectivity. Specific...

IoT takes mass transit to a new level

The Internet of Things is critical to Bus Rapid Transit (BTR). It enables real-time collection and transmission of data, helping improve fleet management, scheduling, ticketing, safety, and advert...

Defining IoT and Industry 4.0 with embedded systems

Embedded systems play a vital role in both characterizing and developing the Internet of Things as well as in creating new processes in automation. They address several requirements of IoT solutions a...


Arduino CEO Fabio Violante on their migration upwards in engineering

In this video Arduino CEO Fabio Violante talks about their ambitious migration upwards in engineering solutions and products with Alix Paultre in Tegernsee, Germany. Arduino, long known for their deve...

Silicon Lab CEO Tyson Tuttle talks about their wireless IoT portfolio

In this video Silicon Lab's Tyson Tuttle talks to Alix Paultre about their new wireless IoT portfolio. Wireless Xpress provides a configuration-based development environment, with certified Blueto...

Keysight's Joachim Peerlings talks about the new UXR series Oscilloscope

In this video Keysight's Joachim Peerlings talks about the new UXR series Oscilloscope with Alix Paultre at their launch event in Munich. The Infiniium UXR-Series of oscilloscopes has models rangi...

BrainChip explains their new Neuromorphic System-on-Chip

In this video, Bob Beachler of BrainChip talks to Alix Paultre about their latest single-chip neural network technology.  Spiking neural networks (SNNs) are inherently lower power than traditiona...


In this video the Vincotech team walks us through the most important topics displayed on their booth at PCIM Europe 2018. It also explains why Vincotech is First in SiC Modules. Being very flexible in...

Microchip talks about their latest secure microcontroller

Microchip's new SAM L10 and SAM L11 families of 32-bit microcontrollers (MCUs) address the growing need for security in Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints by protecting against the increasing the ...

E-Mail Newsletters


Our 3 E-Mail Newsletters: EETimes/EDN Europe, Embedded News and Power Electronics News inform about the latest news in technology and products, as well as technical know-how like white papers, webinars, articles, etc.

B & S / ECE Magazine

- latest issue is online now -

November 2018

Content Highlights

Cover Story

Internet-connected displays make the industrial IoT more visible

Download now