Introducing the Losant Embedded Edge Agent

Dylan Schuster
Dylan Schuster | 3 minute read

As more companies begin acting on their Internet of Things (IoT) strategies, they find themselves balancing the cost of hardware with onboard capabilities and computing power. Of course, the lower the device’s processing power, the more cost-effective the rollout becomes; but on the flip side, this makes building the solution more complicated as memory management and resource constraints become much greater factors for consideration. Thus, as hardware costs and capabilities decrease, it becomes much more difficult for companies to realize their IoT visions.

Today’s platform release introduces Losant’s Embedded Edge Agent (EEA), which brings the usability of Losant to hardware that previously was incapable of utilizing our drag-and-drop workflow engine. By integrating the EEA into your low-power, embedded hardware, you can bring bidirectional platform communication and no-touch software updates to a whole new class of devices.

A Low-Code WebAssembly Development Tool

Backed by Losant’s low-code, drag-and-drop workflow engine, the Embedded Edge Agent allows for adjusting embedded hardware behavior without physical access to the device – or having to recompile and flash firmware. Given your workflow configuration built in our cloud platform, we compile that into WebAssembly instructions that are then delivered to your device either through manual import or through an integration with our MQTT broker. The EEA then executes those workflows via direct integrations with the native code on your device.

This unique approach brings the usability of Losant’s workflow editor to low-power hardware and embedded systems, in what we are dubbing the world’s first low-code WebAssembly development environment.

Embedded vs. Gateway Edge Agents

Note: To better differentiate between the new Embedded Edge Agent and our existing Edge Compute functionality, we now refer to our original Edge Compute agent as the Gateway Edge Agent. Our documentation has been updated to clarify the differences between the two.

When we first introduced Losant Edge Compute, our goal was to bridge the divide between offline devices networked through various commercial and industrial protocols and Losant’s IoT platform, as well as to bring the benefits of local control and offline support to our end users.

While Edge Workflows (running in the Gateway Edge Agent) and Embedded Workflows (running in the Embedded Edge Agent) are both built and deployed in very similar manners, they are intended to address many different problems in a full IoT solution.

  Gateway Edge Agent Embedded Edge Agent
Environment Docker container WebAssembly
Memory Requirements 512MB 2MB
Hardware Networked gateways & computers Low-powered, embedded systems
Setup Expertise Novice developer Intermediate developer
Use Cases
  • Industrial connectors
  • Local control
  • Offline support
  • Embedded development
  • Vibration/wave analysis
  • Post-installation modifications

The Gateway Edge Agent requires more computing power – and thus exposes much more functionality – and is typically installed in an industrial gateway or a modern computer on your private network. The Embedded Edge Agent, by contrast, is designed with strict memory requirements in mind. It is typically integrated into embedded hardware deep within a larger system, and it requires more hands-on work to fit into your existing environment.

To be clear, the Gateway Edge Agent is still vital to Losant’s IoT platform and will continue to be improved upon and maintained. (We even added a new node with this release.) The Embedded Edge Agent is a complement to our existing technology, not a replacement of it.

Getting Started

Initial setup of the Embedded Edge Agent does take some developer expertise, but once the integration with your hardware is complete, then building and deploying Embedded Workflows from Losant’s cloud environment is just as easy as it is for Edge Workflows.

To help our users get started with this new technology, we’ve prepared a detailed walkthrough that helps you set up the agent; connect it to Losant’s MQTT broker; and deploy your first workflow. We’ve also published code samples in a number of languages, including Python, Node.js, and C++ (ESP32).

We had a Deeper Dive webinar Tuesday, Nov. 16th, where we introduced the Embedded Edge Agent, discussed some common use cases and provided tips for getting started with the new feature. If you would like to utilize the EEA as part of your IoT solution, we strongly recommend this replay.

Other Updates

As always, this release comes with a number of smaller feature improvements, including:

What’s Next?

With every new release, we listen to your feedback. By combining your suggestions with our roadmap, we can continue to improve the platform while maintaining its ease of use. Let us know what you think in the Losant Forums.