Software defined radios (SDRs) can–in theory–do almost anything you need a radio to do. Voice? Data? Frequency hopping? Trunking? No problem, you just write the correct software, and you are in.
That’s the problem, though. You need to know how to write the software. LimeSDR is an open source SDR with a crowdfunding campaign. By itself, that’s not anything special. There are plenty of SDR devices available. What makes LimeSDR interesting is that it is using Snappy Ubuntu Core as a sort of app store. Developers can make code available, and end-users can easily download and install that code.
Of course, the real value will be if people actually fill the store with meaningful applications. It certainly worked for smartphones. How many people would need a smartphone if they had to write their own code? Even finding software scattered around the Internet and installing it is beyond some users.
On the other hand, we couldn’t help but think that for radios, just apps only gets you so far. What you really need is components that you can easily integrate. This is the idea behind GNU Radio (we’ve covered GNU Radio before). Granted, LimeSDR supports GNU Radio, too. However, an app store that can bundle GNU Radio applications and also allow installation of modules easily would be widely applicable and useful.
On the other hand, maybe people who will use GNU Radio won’t have a problem just downloading stuff themselves. That begs the question of how many consumers need an SDR that allows them to download many applications? Time will tell.
You can see a video about LimeSDR below. We have talked a lot about SDRs over the last few years, especially the RTL-SDR dongles. LimeSDR is a big step up in price and performance from an RTL-SDR dongle, though.