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Connectivity (20)

An edge device is the network component that is responsible for connecting a local area network to an external or wide area network, which can be accessed from anywhere. Edge devices offer several new services and improved outcomes for IoT deployments across all markets. Smart services that rely on high volumes of data and local analysis can be deployed in a wide range of environments.

Edge device provides the local data to an external network. If protocols are different in local and external networks, it also translates this information, and make the connection between both network boundaries. Edge devices analyze diagnostics and automatic data populating; however, it is necessary to make a secure connection between the field network and cloud computing. In the event of loss of internet connection or cloud crash edge device will store data until the connection is established, so it won’t lose any process information. The local data storage is optional and not all edge devices offer local storage, it depends on the application and service required to implement on the plant.

How does an edge device work?

An edge device has a very straightforward working principle, it communicates between two different networks and translates one protocol into another. Furthermore, it creates a secure connection with the cloud.

An edge device can be configured via local access and internet or cloud. In general, we can say an edge device is a plug-and-play, its setup is simple and does not require much time to configure.

Why should I use an edge device?

Depending on the service required in the plant, the edge devices will be a crucial point to collect the information and create an automatic digital twin of your device in the cloud. 

Edge devices are an essential part of IoT solutions since they connect the information from a network to a cloud solution. They do not affect the network but only collect the data from it, and never cause a problem with the communication between the control system and the field devices. by using an edge device to collect information, the user won’t need to touch the control system. Edge is one-way communication, nothing is written into the network, and data are acquired with the highest possible security.

Edge device requirements

Edge devices are required to meet certain requirements that are to meet at all conditions to perform in different secretions. This may include storage, network, and latency, etc.

Low latency

Sensor data is collected in near real-time by an edge server. For services like image recognition and visual monitoring, edge servers are located in very close proximity to the device, meeting low latency requirements. Edge deployment needs to ensure that these services are not lost through poor development practice or inadequate processing resources at the edge. Maintaining data quality and security at the edge whilst enabling low latency is a challenge that need to address.

Network independence

IoT services do not care for data communication topology.  The user requires the data through the most effective means possible which in many cases will be mobile networks, but in some scenarios, Wi-Fi or local mesh networking may be the most effective mechanism of collecting data to ensure latency requirements can be met.

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Data security

Users require data at the edge to be kept secure as when it is stored and used elsewhere. These challenges need to meet due to the larger vector and scope for attacks at the edge. Data authentication and user access are as important at the edge as it is on the device or at the core.  Additionally, the physical security of edge infrastructure needs to be considered, as it is likely to hold in less secure environments than dedicated data centers.

Data Quality

Data quality at the edge is a key requirement to guarantee to operate in demanding environments. To maintain data quality at the edge, applications must ensure that data is authenticated, replicated as and assigned into the correct classes and types of data category.

Flexibility in future enhancements

Additional sensors can be added and managed at the edge as requirements change. Sensors such as accelerometers, cameras, and GPS, can be added to equipment, with seamless integration and control at the edge.

Local storage

Local storage is essential in the event of loss of internet connection or cloud crash edge device will store data until the connection is established, so it won’t lose any process information. The local data storage is optional and not all edge devices offer local storage, it depends on the application and service required to implement on the plant

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When you’re in technology, you have to expect change. Yet, there’s something to the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” For instance, I see in the industrial internet of things (IIoT) a realm that’ll dramatically shape the future - how we manufacture, the way we run our factories, workforce needs – but the underlying business goals are the same as always.

Simply put, while industrial enterprise initiatives may change, financial objectives don’t – and they’re still what matter most. That’s why IIoT is so appealing. While the possibilities of smart and connected operations, sites and products certainly appeal to the dreamer and innovator, the clear payoff ensures that it’s a road even the most pragmatic decision-maker will eagerly follow.

The big three
When it comes to industrial enterprises, IIoT addresses the “big three” financial objectives head on. The technology maximizes revenue growth, reduces operating expense and increases asset efficiency.

IIoT does this in numerous ways. It yields invaluable operational intelligence, like real-time performance management data, to reduce manufacturing costs, increase flexibility and enable agility. When it comes to productivity, connected digital assets can empower a workforce with actionable insights to improve productivity and quality, even prevent safety and compliance issues.

For example, recognizing defects in a product early on can save time, materials, staff hours and possibly even a company’s reputation.

Whether on or off the factory floor, IIoT can be used to optimize asset efficiency. With real-time monitoring, diagnostics and analytics, downtime can be reduced or avoided. Asset utilization can also be evaluated and maximized. Think applications like equipment health monitoring, predictive maintenance, the ability to provide augmented 3D instructions for complex repairs. And, you can also scale production more precisely via better control over processes and inventory.

All of this accelerates time to market; another key benefit of IIoT and long held business goal.

Why is 5G important for IIoT and augmented reality (AR)?
As we look at the growing need to connect more devices, more sensors and install things like real-time cameras for doing analytics, there is growing stress and strain that is brought into industrial settings. We have seen the need to increase connectivity while having greater scalability, performance, accessibility, reliability, and broader reach with a lower cost of ownership become much more important. This is where 5G can make a real difference.

Many of our customers have seen what we are doing with augmented reality and the way that PTC can help operators service equipment. But in the not so distant future, the way that people interact with robotics, for example, will change. There will be real-time video to do spatial analytics on the way that people are working with man and machines and we’ll be able to unlock a new level of intelligence with a new layer of connectivity that helps drive better business outcomes.

Partner up
It sounds nice but the truth is, a lot of heavy lifting is required to do IIoT right. The last thing you want to do is venture into a pilot, run into problems, and leave the C-suite less than enthused with the outcome. And make no mistake, there’s a lot potential pitfalls to be aware of.

For instance, lengthy proof of concept periods, cumbersome processes and integrations can slow time to market. Multiple, local integrations can be required when connectivity and device management gets siloed. If not done right, you may only gain limited visibility into devices and the experience will fall short. And, naturally, global initiatives can be hindered by high roaming costs and deployment obstacles.

That said, you want to harness best of breed providers, not only to realize the full benefits of Industry 4.0, but to set yourself up with a foundation that’ll be able to harness 5G developments. You need a trusted IoT partner, and because of the sophistication and complexity, it takes an ecosystem of proven innovators working collaboratively.

That’s why PTC and Ericsson are partners.

Doing what’s best
Ericsson unlocks the full value of global cellular IoT connectivity and provides on-premise solutions. PTC offers an industrial IoT platform that’s ready to configure and deploy, with flexible connectivity and capabilities to build solutions without manual coding.

Drilling down a bit further, Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator can connect and manage billions of devices and millions of applications easily, seamlessly and globally. PTC’s IoT solutions digitalize processes and products, combining the physical and digital worlds seamlessly.

And with wireless connectivity, we can deploy a lot of new technology – from augmented reality to artificial intelligence applications – without having to think about the time and cost of creating fixed infrastructures, running wires, adding network capacity and more.

According ABI Research, organizations that embrace Industry 4.0 and private cellular have the potential to improve gross margins by 5-13% in factory and warehouse operations. Manufacturers can expect a 10x return on their investment. And with 4.3 billion wireless connections in smart factories anticipated by 2030, it’s clear where things are headed.

By focusing on what we each do best, PTC and Ericsson is able to do what’s best for our customers. We can help them build and scale global cellular IoT deployments faster and gain a competitive advantage. They can reap the advantages of Industry 4.0 and create that path to 5G, future-proofing their operations and enjoying such differentiators as network slicing, edge computing and high-reliability, low latency communications.

Further, with our histories of innovation, customers are assured they’ll be supported in the future, remaining out front with the ability to adapt to change, grow and deliver on financial objections.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published by Steve Dertien, Chief Technology Officer for PTC, on Ericsson's website, and is part of a joint content effort with Kiva Allgood, head of IoT for Ericsson. To view Steve's original, please click here. To read Kiva's complementary post, please click here.

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Impact of IoT in Inventory

Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized many industries including inventory management. IoT is a concept where devices are interconnected via the internet. It is expected that by 2020, there will be 26 billion devices connected worldwide. These connections are important because it allows data sharing which then can perform actions to make life and business more efficient. Since inventory is a significant portion of a company’s assets, inventory data is vital for an accounting department for the company’s asset management and annual report.

Inventory solutions based on IoT and RFID, individual inventory item receives an RFID tag. Each tag has a unique identification number (ID) that contains information about an inventory item, e.g. a model, a batch number, etc. these tags are scanned by RF reader. Upon scanning, a reader extracts its IDs and transmits them to the cloud for processing. Along with the tag’s ID, the cloud receives location and the time of reading. This data is used for updates about inventory items’, allowing users to monitor the inventory from anywhere, in real-time.

Industrial IoT

The role of IoT in inventory management is to receive data and turn it into meaningful insights about inventory items’ location, status, and giving users a corresponding output. For example, based on the data, and inventory management solution architecture, we can forecast the number of raw materials needed for the upcoming production cycle. The output of the system can also send an alert if any individual inventory item is lost.

Moreover, IoT based inventory management solutions can be integrated with other systems, i.e. ERP and share data with other departments.

RFID in Industrial IoT

RFID consist of three main components tag, antenna, and a reader

Tags: An RFID tag carries information about a specific object. It can be attached to any surface, including raw materials, finished goods, packages, etc.

RFID antennas: An RFID antenna receives signals to supply power and data for tags’ operation

RFID readers: An RFID reader, uses radio signals to read and write to the tags. The reader receives data stored in the tag and transmits it to the cloud.

Benefits of IoT in inventory management

The benefits of IoT on the supply chain are the most exciting physical manifestations we can observe. IoT in the supply chain creates unparalleled transparency that increases efficiencies.

Inventory tracking

The major benefit of inventory management is asset tracking, instead of using barcodes to scan and record data, items have RFID tags which can be registered wirelessly. It is possible to accurately obtain data and track items from any point in the supply chain.

With RFID and IoT, managers don’t have to spend time on manual tracking and reporting on spreadsheets. Each item is tracked and the data about it is recorded automatically. Automated asset tracking and reporting save time and reduce the probability of human error.

Inventory optimization

Real-time data about the quantity and the location of the inventory, manufacturers can reduce the amount of inventory on hand while meeting the needs of the customers at the end of the supply chain.

The data about the amount of available inventory and machine learning can forecast the required inventory which allows manufacturers to reduce the lead time.

Remote tracking

Remote product tracking makes it easy to have an eye on production and business. Knowing production and transit times, allows you to better tweak orders to suit lead times and in response to fluctuating demand. It shows which suppliers are meeting production and shipping criteria and which needs monitoring for the required outcome.

It gives visibility into the flow of raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods by providing updates about the status and location of the items so that inventory managers see when an individual item enters or leaves a specific location.

Bottlenecks in the operations

With the real-time data about the location and the quantity, manufacturers can reveal bottlenecks in the process and pinpoint the machine with lower utilization rates. For instance, if part of the inventory tends to pile up in front of a machine, a manufacturer assumes that the machine is underutilized and needs to be seen to.

The Outcomes

The data collected by inventory management is more accurate and up-to-date. By reducing these time delays, the manufacturing process can enhance accuracy and reduce wastage. An IoT-based inventory management solution offers complete visibility on inventory by providing real-time information fetched by RFID tags. It helps to track the exact location of raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods. As a result, manufacturers can balance the amount of on-hand inventory, increase the utilization of machines, reduce lead time, and thus, avoid costs bound to the less effective methods. This is all about optimizing inventory and ensuring anything ordered can be sold through whatever channel necessary.

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Theoratical Embedded Linux requirements

Hardware

SoC

A System on Chip (SoC), is essentially an integrated circuit that takes a single platform and integrates an entire computer system onto it. It combines the power of the CPU with other components that it needs to perform and execute its functions. It is in charge of using the other hardware and running your software. The main advantage of SoC includes lower latency and power saving.

It is made of various building blocks:

  • Core + Caches + MMU – An SoC has a processor at its core which will define its functions. Normally, an SoC has multiple processor cores. For a “real” processor, e.g. ARM Cortex-A9. It’s the main thing kept in mind while choosing an SoC. Maybe co-adjuvanted by e.g. a SIMD co-processor like NEON.
  • Internal RAM – IRAM is composed of very high-speed SRAM located alongside the CPU. It acts similar to a CPU cache, and generally very small. It is used in the first phase of the boot sequence.
  • Peripherals – These can be a simple ADC, DSP, or a Graphical Processing Unit which is connected via some bus to the Core. A low power/real-time co-processor helps the main Core with real-time tasks or handle low power states. Examples of such IP cores are USB, PCI-E, SGX, etc.

External RAM

An SoC uses RAM to store temporary data during and after bootstrap. It is the memory an embedded system uses during regular operation.

Non-Volatile Memory

In an Embedded system or single-board computer, it is the SD card. In other cases, it can be a NAND, NOR, or SPI Data flash memory. It is the source of data the SoC reads and stores all the software components needed for the system to work.

External Peripherals

An SoC must have external interfaces for standard communication protocols such as USB, Ethernet, and HDMI. It also includes wireless technology protocols of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Software

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First of all, we introduce the boot chain which is the series of actions that happens when an SoC is powered up.

Boot ROM: It is a piece of code stored in the ROM which is executed by the booting core when it is powered-on. This code contains instructions for the configuration of SoC to allow it to execute applications. The configurations performed by Boot ROM include initialization of the core’s register and stack pointer, enablement of caches and line buffers, programming of interrupt service routine, clock configuration.

Boot ROM also implements a Boot Assist Module (BAM) for downloading an application image from external memories using interfaces like Ethernet, SD/MMC, USB, CAN, UART, etc.

1st stage bootloader

In the first-stage bootloader performs the following

  • Setup the memory segments and stack used by the bootloader code
  • Reset the disk system
  • Display a string “Loading OS…”
  • Find the 2nd stage boot loader in the FAT directory
  • Read the 2nd stage boot loader image into memory at 1000:0000
  • Transfer control to the second-stage bootloader

It copies the Boot ROM into the SoC’s internal RAM. Must be tiny enough to fit that memory usually well under 100kB. It initializes the External RAM and the SoC’s external memory interface, as well as other peripherals that may be of interest (e.g. disable watchdog timers). Once done, it executes the next stage, depending on the context, which could be called MLO, SPL, or else.

2nd stage bootloader

This is the main bootloader and can be 10 times bigger than the 1st stage, it completes the initialization of the relevant peripherals.

  • Copy the boot sector to a local memory area
  • Find kernel image in the FAT directory
  • Read kernel image in memory at 2000:0000
  • Reset the disk system
  • Enable the A20 line
  • Setup interrupt descriptor table at 0000:0000
  • Setup the global descriptor table at 0000:0800
  • Load the descriptor tables into the CPU
  • Switch to protected mode
  • Clear the prefetch queue
  • Setup protected mode memory segments and stack for use by the kernel code
  • Transfer control to the kernel code using a long jump

Linux Kernel

The Linux kernel is the main component of a Linux OS and is the core interface between hardware and processes. It communicates between the hardware and processes, managing resources as efficiently as possible. The kernel performs following jobs

  • Memory management: Keep track of memory, how much is used to store what, and where
  • Process management: Determine which processes can use the processor, when, and for how long
  • Device drivers: Act as an interpreter between the hardware and the processes
  • System calls and security: Receive requests for the service from processes

To put the kernel in context, they can be interpreted as a Linux machine as having 3 layers:

  • The hardware: The physical machine—the base of the system, made up of memory (RAM) and the processor (CPU), as well as input/output (I/O) devices such as storage, networking, and graphics.
  • The Linux kernel: The core of the OS. It is a software residing in memory that tells the CPU what to do.
  • User processes: These are the running programs that the kernel manages. User processes are what collectively makeup user space. The kernel allows processes and servers to communicate with each other.

Init and rootfs – init is the first non-Kernel task to be run, and has PID 1. It initializes everything needed to use the system. In production embedded systems, it also starts the main application. In such systems, it is either BusyBox or a custom-crafted application.

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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

This complete guide is a 212-page eBook and is a must read for business leaders, product managers and engineers who want to implement, scale and optimize their business with IoT communications.

Whether you want to attempt initial entry into the IoT-sphere, or expand existing deployments, this book can help with your goals, providing deep understanding into all aspects of IoT.

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Edge Products Are Now Managed At The Cloud

Now more than ever, there are billions of edge products in the world. But without proper cloud computing, making the most of electronic devices that run on Linux or any other OS would not be possible.

And so, a question most people keep asking is which is the best Software-as-a-service platform that can effectively manage edge devices through cloud computing. Well, while edge device management may not be something, the fact that cloud computing space is not fully exploited means there is a lot to do in the cloud space.

Product remote management is especially necessary for the 21st century and beyond. Because of the increasing number of devices connected to the internet of things (IoT), a reliable SaaS platform should, therefore, help with maintaining software glitches from anywhere in the world. From smart homes, stereo speakers, cars, to personal computers, any product that is connected to the internet needs real-time protection from hacking threats such as unlawful access to business or personal data.

Data being the most vital asset is constantly at risk, especially if individuals using edge products do not connect to trusted, reliable, and secure edge device management platforms.

Bridges the Gap Between Complicated Software And End Users

Cloud computing is the new frontier through which SaaS platforms help manage edge devices in real-time. But something even more noteworthy is the increasing number of complicated software that now run edge devices at homes and in workplaces.

Edge device management, therefore, ensures everything runs smoothly. From fixing bugs, running debugging commands to real-time software patch deployment, cloud management of edge products bridges a gap between end-users and complicated software that is becoming the norm these days.

Even more importantly, going beyond physical firewall barriers is a major necessity in remote management of edge devices. A reliable Software-as-a-Service, therefore, ensures data encryption for edge devices is not only hackproof by also accessed by the right people. Moreover, deployment of secure routers and access tools are especially critical in cloud computing when managing edge devices. And so, developers behind successful SaaS platforms do conduct regular security checks over the cloud, design and implement solutions for edge products.

Reliable IT Infrastructure Is Necessary

Software-as-a-service platforms that manage edge devices focus on having a reliable IT infrastructure and centralized systems through which they can conduct cloud computing. It is all about remotely managing edge devices with the help of an IT infrastructure that eliminates challenges such as connectivity latency.

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Industrial IoT Revolution

Why the Nvidia Jetson Nano is responsible for the biggest industrial IoT revolution these days

 
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It feels like yesterday when the Raspberry Pi foundation released the first-in-line Single Board Computer (SBC) to the market. Back in 2012, Raspberry Pi wasn't alone in the SBC growing market, however, it was the first to make a community-based product that brings the hardware and the software eco-system to a beautiful harmony on the internet. Before those days, embedded Linux based SBC's and SOM's were a place for Linux kernel and embedded hardware experts, no easy-to-use tools, ready Linux based distros, or most importantly without the enormous amount of questions and answers across the internet on anything related.

Today, 8 years later, the "2012 revolution" happens again

This time, it took a year to understand the impact of the new 'kid' in the market, but now, there are a few indications that defiantly build the route to a revolution.

The Raspberry Pi was the first to make embedded Linux easy while keeping the advantages of reliability and flexibility in terms of fitting to different kinds of industries applications. It's almost impossible to ignore the variety of industries where Raspberry Pi is in its hurt of products to save time-to-market and costs. The power of this magical board leans on the software side: The Raspberry Pi foundation and their community, worked hard across the years to improve and share their knowledge, but, at the same time, without notice or targeting, they brought the Pi development to an extremely "serverless" level.

The Nvidia Jetson Nano

Let's stop talking about the Raspberry Pi and focus on today's industry needs to understand better why the new kid in the town is here to change the market of IoT and smart products forever.

 
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 Why do we need to thanks Nvidia and the Jetson Nano?
 

The market is going forward. AI, Robotics, amazing-looking screen app Gui's, image processing, and long data calculations are all become the new standard of smart edge products.

If a few years ago, you would only want to connect your product to the cloud and receive anything valuable, today, product managers and developers compete in a much tougher industry era. This time, the Raspberry Pi can't be the technology hero again, its resources are limited and the eco-system starts to squint to a better-fit solution.

 
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NVIDIA Jetson devices in Upswift.io device management platform

The Jetson Nano is the first SBC to understood the necessary combination that will drive new products to use it. It's the first SBC designed in the mind of industrial powerful use cases, while not forgetting the prototyping stage and the harmony that gave the Raspberry Pi their success. It's the first solution to bring the whole package for developers and for hardware engineers with a "SaaS" feel: The OS is already perfect thanks to Ubuntu, there is plenty of software instructions by Nvidia and open-source ready-to-use tools custom made for the Jetson family, and for the hardware engineers: they are free to go with the System On Module (SOM) that is connected to a carrier board which includes all the necessary outputs and inputs to make the development stage even faster.

The Jetson Nano combination is basically providing the first world infrastructure for producing a "2020" product with complex software while working in a minimal budget and time-to-market. The Jetson Nano enables developers and product managers to imagine further without compromises, bringing tough software missions to the edge easily.

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In the era of digitalization, IoT is fostering the upcoming revolution in mobile apps. The ways companies used to provide mobile app development are changing because of IoT. After helping thousands of corporates to deliver extraordinary user experiences, IoT is all set with some new and advanced mobile app development trends. 

The tech world is the one that is continuously evolving. Every year and each day, innovations come to light. Each of them is revolutionizing our lives in one or the other ways. From the first wheel to smart cities, humans have come a long way.

The evolution and foundation of smart cities is the result of IoT or the Internet of Things. IoT has definitely stirred quite an uproar in the digital world with the mass potential it has. It can bring everything and everyone online. 

As per the latest mobile app stats, IoT will become a more significant player in the mobile app development industry. The market share of IoT is going to increase more than double in 2021 with a staggering amount of 520 billion USD. While four years back in 2017, this number was 235 billion USD. 

Soon the IoT mobile app development will face new trends in the coming year and beyond.

Let us take a look at the top IoT mobile app development trends.

IoT App Trend #1: Cybersecurity for IoT

With an increase in the number of devices online, cybersecurity is the top priority for all businesses as IoT gains popularity. The network is expected to expand in the coming years, and so the data volume will also increase. All this draws attention to more information to protect.

IoT security will see an exponential rise as more users will store their data over the cloud. From banking details to home security, everything is easily breached if the security firewall is weak in IoT applications. 

Therefore mobile app development companies need to work upon the up-gradation of their IoT enabled mobile apps. 

IoT App Trend #2: Roaring Popularity of Smart Home Devices

When smart home devices were launched, many mocked them by calling them unrealistic toys for lazy youngsters. Now, the same people are finding it increasingly difficult to resist the charm of IoT devices. 

IoT devices are expected to be very popular in 2021 and the years to come. The reason behind their growing popularity is that the IoT devices are becoming highly intuitive and innovative. They are extended not only to the comfort of home automation but also to home security and the safety of your family.

Another great advantage of implementing smart IoT development adoption is the need to save energy. The intelligent lights or intelligent thermostats help in conserving energy, reducing bills. These reasons will lead to more and more people to adopt smart home devices.

IoT App Trend #3: Backed by AI and ML

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning both are thriving technologies. Both of these are the facilitators of automation. We all know how Artificial Intelligence has touched millions of lives around the globe. 

Together with IoT, AI and ML are unique data-driven technologies shaping the future of human-machine interactions. The developers set up a combination of IoT and Artificial Intelligence that helps automate the routine tasks, simplifies work, and gets the most accurate information.

IoT App Trend #4: IoT and Healthcare

With the revolution in the health-tech industry, healthcare companies are turning towards mobile platforms. IoT enabled apps to open up new opportunities to improve the medical sector.

IoT has immense applications that are already running in the healthcare field and is expected to increase by 26.2% 

Healthcare apps featuring IoT technology are expected to reform the world of medical sciences. These IoT mobile apps can even help doctors and medical professionals treat their patients even from a distance.

Smart wearables and implants will be able to record diverse parameters to keep the patient’s health in check. By integrating sensors, portable devices, and all kinds of medical equipment, real-time updates of a patient’s health can be recorded and sent to the concerned person. 

IoT App Trend #5: Edge Computing to Overtake Cloud Computing

This is a change where we have to be careful. For the past many years, IoT devices have been storing their data on cloud storage. However, the IoT developers, development services, and manufacturers have started thinking about the utility of storing, calculating, and analyzing data to the limit.

So basically this means, in place of sending the entire data from IoT devices to the cloud, the data is first transmitted to a local or nearer storage device located close to the IoT device or on the edge of the network. 

This local storage device then analyzes, sorts, filters and calculates the data and then sends all or only a part of the data to the cloud, reducing the traffic on the network avoiding any bottleneck situation.

Known as “edge computing”, this approach has several advantages if used correctly. Firstly, it helps in the better management of the large amount of data that each device sends. Second, the reduced dependency on cloud storage allows devices and applications to perform faster and also reduce latency.

Being able to collect and process data locally, the IoT application is expected to consume lesser bandwidth and work even when connectivity to the cloud is affected. After seeing these positive aspects, state-of-the-art computing is looking forward to better innovation and broad adoption in IoT, both consumer and industrial.

Reduced connectivity to the cloud will also result in fewer security costs and facilitate better security practices. 2021 will see better state-of-the-art IT in IoT.

IoT App Trend #6: Are You Excited About Smart Cities?

Well, all of us are super excited to witness smart cities. Smart cities are one of the significant accomplishments of IoT and modernization. Integrated with IoT-powered devices, smart cities promise improved efficiency and security for the common folk on the streets and inside their homes.

With superfast data transfer supported by 5G, public transportation will also see a massive change in the way they work. 

By now, we know that IoT will focus on developing smart parking lots, street lights, and traffic controls. To add up to this, with IoT and fast internet, we will live inside a world where our refrigerators will be aware of what food we have inside.

IoT will impact traffic congestion and security. It will also help in the development of sustainable cities leading us to a green future.

IoT App Trend #7: Blockchain for IoT Security

Many financial and governmental institutions, entrepreneurs, consumers as well as industrialists will be decentralized, self-governing, and be quite smart. Most of the new companies are seen building their territory on the entanglement of IOTA to develop modules and other components for firms without the cost of SaaS and Cloud.

IOTA is a distributed ledger especially designed to record and execute transactions between devices in the IoT ecosystem.

If you are in this industry, then you should prepare to see the centralized and monolithic computer models that are separated in the jobs and microservices. All this will be distributed to decentralized machines and devices. 

In the coming future, IoT will penetrate the disciplines of health, government, transactions, and others that we cannot think of right now. Such types of IoT technology trends will create significant effective differences.

IoT App Trend #8: IoT for Retail Apps

The eCommerce industry will also get benefited from IoT integration. Retail supply change will be more efficient after the incorporation of IoT mobile apps. It is expected to improve the online shopping experience for individuals across the globe.

Also, IoT will make the retail experience more personalized for each customer with in-app advertisements based on the user’s shopping history. We already get notifications once we purchase a product from a particular eStore. With IoT enabled mobile apps, the app will guide us to our favorite store using in-site maps.

IoT App Trend #9- Will IoT Boost Predictive Maintenance?

Yes, it will. In 2021 and beyond, the smart home system will notify the owner about plumbing leaks, appliance failures, or any other problem so that the house owner can avoid any disaster. Soon these intelligent sensors will enter our houses.

In response to these predictive skills of IoT, we can expect to see home care offers as a contractor service. If there will be a need for any emergency action, your presence in the house will not be necessary. 

IoT App Trend #10: Easy and Better Commuting

IoT mobile applications are expected to make commuting easier for students, the elderly, the business person, and many more. Today, due to heavy traffic, commuting is a significant issue for most of us. With major innovations in technology and integration of IoT, mobile applications will make traveling a breeze for everyone.

Here are some of the conventional ways that commuting will change:

  • Smart street lights will make walking on the road safe for pedestrians
  • Finding parking spaces will be a lot easier and seamless with data-driven parking apps. 
  • In-app navigation and public transportation will definitely make public transit more reliable 
  • IoT powered mobile apps will also improve routing between different modes of transfer.

With so many innovative ideas and benefits for iOS and android based IoT mobile apps, the mobile app development market will see an influx of transportation apps in the years to come.

IoT App Trend #11: Sustainable-as-a-Service Becomes the Norm.

While talking about the IoT trends, SaaS or Sustainable-as-a-Service is considered as one of the hot topics for the estimated market. Because of the low cost of entry, SaaS is quickly getting to the top list for being the favorite firm in the IT gaming sector. 

Out of these emerging technological IoT trends, Software-as-a-service will make the lives of people better than ever.

IoT App Trend #12- Energy and Resource Management 

Do you know what affects energy management the most? Well, energy management majorly depends on the acquisition of a better understanding of how to consume resources. IoT mobile app-based electronics are expected to play a significant role in the conservation of energy. 

All of these IoT trends can be integrated into resource management, making lives more accessible, more comfortable, and responsible.

Automatic notifications can also be added to the mobile app in order to send information to the owner in case the power threshold exceeds. Various other fancy features can also be added to these IoT mobile apps such as sprinkler control, in-house temperature management, etc.

Conclusion

We all know that IoT has great potential to bring revolutionary changes in the present mobile app development industry trends. It is expected to open up immense possibilities for every business or individual related to this field. Directly or indirectly, IoT will drive the future of almost every industry.

The above mentioned are some of the trends that will dominate the IoT app development ecosystem in the years to come. Amid all these predictions and trends, the future is promising and worth the wait. 

 

 

 

 

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Industrial Prototyping for IoT

I-Pi SMARC.jpg

ADLINK is a global leader in edge computing driving data-to-decision applications across industries. The company recently introduced I-Pi SMARC for Industrial IoT prototyping.

-       AdLInk I-Pi SMARC consists of a simple carrier paired with a SMARC Computer on Module

-       SMARC Modules are available from entry level PX30 Rockchip to top of the line Intel Apollo Lake.

-       SMARC modules are specifically designed for typical industrial embedded applications that require long life, high MTBF and strict revision control.

-       Use popular off the shelve sensors and create prototypes or proof of concepts on short notice.

Additional information can be found here

 

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If I had to choose three reasons why the adoption of the IoT it´s delayed several years, one of the three would include would be the mistake in their strategy, faith, IoT employee sales skills and poor investment in key industries by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in this business.

When I wrote more than 5 years ago my post “How to select your M2M/IoT Service Provider” I referenced several annual reports from analysts like Gartner and vendors like Ericsson or Cisco. All of them presented very optimistic predictions that unfortunately have not been fulfilled.

During this time Mobile Network Operators have adapted to the market crude reality of the market with sometimes erratic strategies. Despite this fact has not discouraged new entrants that have energized a market with again high growth expectations. Today Tier 1 and Tier 2 Mobile Network Operators are competing with many IoT Connectivity providers in all industries and use cases. The good news for these new entrants is that the MNOs have not known captivate their customers.

What do I think the MNOS are thinking now?

1-    The Technological Battle of LPWAN networks

I do not want to open in this article a debate on which LPWAN connectivity technology (5G, NB-IoT, LTE-M, LoRA, Sigfox, ….) is the best. Each of these technologies will likely play an important role in the IoT space depending on the use case, so understanding the features and differences of each is critical.

You must not forget other IoT connectivity technologies (Satellite, Mesh networks, WiFi, Zigbee,..). I have always championed the idea of multiple IoT network coexistence in which objects will connect to provide an IoT service or be part of an aggregated IoT service. And those services can be provided by both licensed and unlicensed cellular networks. Let's assume that we will not have a single protocol that regulates all of them in a long time. We are also not going to ask manufacturers of objects to incorporate the different connectivity possibilities in their designs for obvious reasons of cost and battery life. What would be very valuable is that all IoT devices could add a unique identifier that allow will be part of a SuperIoTNet that works like the current internet. But now is future fiction.

2-    The Connectivity Services Offering 

Ideally we should try to find in our IoT Connectivity Service Provider offering something like Telefonica, an end-to-end complete commercial IoT connectivity offer that allow design and build a tailored secure IoT solution. But this in not gold all that glitters. We must evaluate the ability of these IoT Connectivity Service Providers to make easy the adoption of IoT in Small and Medium Business (SMBs) with pre-integrated industry solutions based on a rich ecosystem.

Customers wants to receive specialised advice to solve any IoT need at a one-stop-shop, including full stack technology solutions from hardware selection to middleware, application development and SaaS operations. Not many IoT Connectivity Providers have the internal resources to provide these services, in that cases customers should involve either or a partner or better an independent consultant as myself.

For some customers an offering like “IoT connectivity as a Service” provided by Arkessa can be an advantage, for others “The 1NCE IoT Flat Rate”, an all-inclusive connectivity package that comprises all elements and features that IoT customer need while having their assets connected is more important. For experienced M2M customers, the portfolio Kore Wireless and industry specialization is attractive. Eseye for instances solve your IoT challenges from device to AWS cloud. In Europe SMBs must consider in the short list Wireless Logic with 4 million devices connected to its platforms globally. Special mention to module companies like Sierra Wireless that offers a Connectivity and Device Management service that connects to 600+ partner networks around the globe with multiple redundant routes in every country to eliminate local coverage gaps or Telit which  Connectivity Service allow companies Monitor, Manage & Monetize their assets.

I am expecting the unlimited opportunities with the Internet of Things after the announcement a few days ago by DT Deutsche Telekom to spin out IoT unit and launch a global open ‘hub.’  More info about new DT IoT offering here: “From vertical to horizontal and back to vertical: our way to the new horizon”

Sorry, I can not extend this paragraph with more companies, but in the picture there are many other companies with attractive services that must be considered for your unique Business case.

3-    eSIM: Threat or Opportunity

The SIM card has also been evolving since its creation in 1991. From the size of a credit card it went to mini-SIM or the classic SIM that began to reduce in size, first to microSIM and then to nanoSIM and finally the embedded SIM (also called eSIM or eUICC or MMF2 UICC).

Presented in the preludes of the Mobile World Congress 2016, the eSIM is still a SIM but it will be embedded in the devices, without the possibility of withdrawing it. eSIM is a global specification by the GSMA which enables remote SIM provisioning of any mobile device. The eSIM is designed to remotely ​manage multiple mobile network operator subscriptions and be compliant​ with GSMA's Remote SIM Provisioning specifications​.  Install one eSIM during manufacturing and change the carrier on the fly.

To date, 200 mobile carriers in more than 80 countries offer eSIM consumer services. The embedded UICC is expected to reach over 200 million shipments in 2019 (source: Eurosmart, November 2019).

GSMA promises not to rig the eSIM standard in favour of its members.

eSIM now allows consumers to store multiple operator profiles on a device simultaneously, and switch between them remotely, though only one can be used at a time. The specification now extends to a wider range of devices. Manufacturers and operators can now enable consumers to select the operator of their choice and then securely download that operator’s SIM application to any device.

At first glance, building or supporting a global eSIM solution presents a major challenge (integration with other service providers and guarantee customer experience is expensive) and not appear to benefit Communication Service Providers. Looks like stupid to invest in a solution that make easier for customers to leave them. That´s why they have not done much to extend its use.

Why is good for IoT?.  UICC and eSIM technology gives enterprises control of IoT connectivity, simplifies international deployments of IoT devices and the transition to mobility services. Large scale international deployments are possible using a single factory installed SIM. The user subscription can be updated when the device is in the field.

ARM white paper introduces 7 top  Innovative eSIM use cases: Automotive, Shipping and Logistics, Object tracking and site monitoring, Smart Energy, Wearables, Agriculture, Home Security.

Sources:

GSMA: https://www.gsma.com/esim/

Cisco Blog: “Manufacture there, connect anywhere: Cisco eSIM Flex enables global connectivity for enterprises and service providers”

Xataka: https://www.xatakamovil.com/conectividad/esim-que-que-ventajas-aporta-cuando-llegara-masivamente-todo-tipo-dispositivos

Thales: https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/markets/digital-identity-and-security/mobile/connectivity/esim/esim

Arkessa: https://www.arkessa.com/euicc/

ARM:  7 Top eSIM use cases

Choosing IoT Connectivity Service Providers

Choosing the right IoT Connectivity Service provider is not as easy as many can think. You can make a preselection using the lasts Gartner Magic Quadrant, also explore the local cellular Operators that have deployed a NB-IoT or LTE-M network and finally analyze other operators that maybe you never heard about them as I did.

The selection of the right IoT Connectivity Service Provider is a strategic decision for any Digital Transformation initiative, especially in enterprises adopting new resilient business models and optimizations of business processes. Some criteria you must consider selecting  your IoT CSP are:

  • Your internal capabilities
  • The offering: IoT Connectivity Services / IoT Managed Connectivity Services / IoT Connectivity Security Service / eSim Services
  • The cost of the IoT Connectivity Services and the flexibility of the tariffs
  • The type of IoT networks they have deployed and the coverage
  • The alliances with other IoT Connectivity Service Providers for global deployments
  • The types of M2M/IoT certified devices / modules and their applicability to your use cases.
  • The experience and references in your industry and vertical solution
  • The capabilities of their IoT Connectivity and Device Management Platforms
  • Open APIS for Integration with your Enterprise Systems
  • BSS/OSS systems and their applicability to your use
  • New business models eg IOTConnectivity as a Service
  • Levels of Support
  • Ecosystem of partners

Key Takeaways

It is not worth spending one minute more crying for the reasons that MNOs were unable to energize the IoT market earlier. We are where we are and the future is still bright, for those who really know how to see it.

The selection of the right IoT Connectivity Service Provider for your enterprise is a strategic decision. When my clients ask which is the best IoT Connectivity Service Provider? my first advice is: ". Let's define together your digital strategy, prioritize key uses cases, analyze new business model and your internal capabilities first and then work on the IoT Connectivity technology needed , which connectivity services comply with your requirements  and finally build a detailed business case that justify the value of your investment".

There is no best IoT connectivity Technology. It all depends on the use cases and the business model.

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Helium Expands to Europe

Helium, the company behind one of the world’s first peer-to-peer wireless networks, is announcing the introduction of Helium Tabs, its first branded IoT tracking device that runs on The People’s Network. In addition, after launching its network in 1,000 cities in North America within one year, the company is expanding to Europe to address growing market demand with Helium Hotspots shipping to the region starting July 2020. 

Since its launch in June 2019, Helium quickly grew its footprint with Hotspots covering more than 700,000 square miles across North America. Helium is now expanding to Europe to allow for seamless use of connected devices across borders. Powered by entrepreneurs looking to own a piece of the people-powered network, Helium’s open-source blockchain technology incentivizes individuals to deploy Hotspots and earn Helium (HNT), a new cryptocurrency, for simultaneously building the network and enabling IoT devices to send data to the Internet. When connected with other nearby Hotspots, this acts as the backbone of the network. 

“We’re excited to launch Helium Tabs at a time where we’ve seen incredible growth of The People’s Network across North America,” said Amir Haleem, Helium’s CEO and co-founder. “We could not have accomplished what we have done, in such a short amount of time, without the support of our partners and our incredible community. We look forward to launching The People’s Network in Europe and eventually bringing Helium Tabs and other third-party IoT devices to consumers there.”  

Introducing Helium Tabs that Run on The People’s Network
Unlike other tracking devices,Tabs uses LongFi technology, which combines the LoRaWAN wireless protocol with the Helium blockchain, and provides network coverage up to 10 miles away from a single Hotspot. This is a game-changer compared to WiFi and Bluetooth enabled tracking devices which only work up to 100 feet from a network source. What’s more, due to Helium’s unique blockchain-based rewards system, Hotspot owners will be rewarded with Helium (HNT) each time a Tab connects to its network. 

In addition to its increased growth with partners and customers, Helium has also seen accelerated expansion of its Helium Patrons program, which was introduced in late 2019. All three combined have helped to strengthen its network. 

Patrons are entrepreneurial customers who purchase 15 or more Hotspots to help blanket their cities with coverage and enable customers, who use the network. In return, they receive discounts, priority shipping, network tools, and Helium support. Currently, the program has more than 70 Patrons throughout North America and is expanding to Europe. 

Key brands that use the Helium Network include: 

  • Nestle, ReadyRefresh, a beverage delivery service company
  • Agulus, an agricultural tech company
  • Conserv, a collections-focused environmental monitoring platform

Helium Tabs will initially be available to existing Hotspot owners for $49. The Helium Hotspot is now available for purchase online in Europe for €450.

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Given my Telco background, it was logical that back in 2014, I published some of my first articles in my  IoT Blog about the topic “IoT Connectivity . I described how the optimist predictions of analysts and companies like Cisco or Ericsson, made the Machine to Machine (M2M) an attractive market to invest.

The fact that “Tata Communications have acquired mobility and Internet of Things specialist Teleena is a clear indication of the phenomenal growth rate in the global IoT connectivity market. “By 2021, enterprises’ spending on mobility alone is set to surpass USD 1.7 trillion,” said Anthony Bartolo, Chief Product Officer, Tata Communications.  I hope to see Tata Communications/Teleena in the next Gartner´s Magic Quadrant for M2M Managed Services Worldwide.

There are still people who doubt that connectivity is a key component in the M2M/IoT Value Chain. Please remember without connectivity simply there is not IoT.

Obviously during these years many of my projects have been associated with IoT connectivity. From the analysis of M2M/IoT Service Providers to the conceptual design of end-to-end solutions where connectivity selection was a key component. One of the most interesting projects was the analysis that I made for the Telefonica project "IoT in a box". Without forget projects to compare LPWAN technologies, End to End Security, Identification of Uses cases for 5G. Sometimes also I had to sell IoT connectivity.

In the last years in the IoT connectivity market I have seen:

  • Consolidation of the market like “KORE buys Wyless” or “Sierra Wireless, Inc. Completes Acquisition of Numerex Corp.
  • The appearance of companies like 1NCE, the first dedicated Tier 1, Narrowband IoT MVNO providing fast, secure and reliable network connectivity for low data B2B applications offering a set of optimized product features – such as an IoT flat rate and the first of its kind 'BUY ONCE'​ lifetime fee
  • The still not bloody battle between LPWAN operators (SigFox, LoRA network operators, NB-IOT, LTE-M)
  • Telco Vendors, Operators and Analysts talking about the promise of 5G
  • New Wifi and Lifi IoT use cases
  • IoT Security breaches
  • Operators focus on key industries and use cases
  • The partnership M2M/IOT Service Providers ecosystem evolution
  • Agreements among M2M, MNO and Satellite operators.
  • The lack of standards in the Smart Home connectivity
  • The expectation for solve the real time connectivity challenges in Industry 4.0 and Edge Computing –
  • Time Sensitive Networking Industry 4.0 use cases and test bed by IIC members
  • ….

But in my opinion, enterprises still are confused and delaying their decisions to adopt IoT / IIOT because they need good advice about the right IoT connectivity not just the cheapest prices but easy integration or better customer support.

I want to remember again that I can help you in the selection of the right M2M /IoT Service Provider for your enterprise business requirements as a strategic decision.

IoT Connectivity - the ugly Duckling of IoT Network Operators

Telecoms operators’ more focused approach to bolstering their IoT businesses appears rooted in refining the technology inherent in their connectivity networks. And no wonder, The powerful GSMA has been helping Mobile Operators to define their role in IoT. At first sight, the best way for large telecoms operators generate value from the IoT might appear to be by providing connectivity via their networks. Additionally, they could leverage their vast experience in customer engagement, customer premise equipment (CPE) support and their robust, proven back-office systems by offering their OSS and BSS platforms externally to IoT users, using their OSS to provide users with a turnkey platform to manage their equipment proactively in real time, and their BSS to support the related billing requirements. In fact Global telcos set sights on IoT for growth in 2018.

Nevertheless, Analysys Mason, highlighted “Telcos have been working with the broader ecosystem, including developers, cloud players and hardware vendors this past year – all of which “should set the market up for an active 2018”.

Although many people think that IoT connectivity  is or will become a commodity with little value for customers and along with the hardware will form the ugly ducklings of the value chain, IoT Network Operators should strive to demonstrate that IoT connectivity is vital for the global adoption of the IoT and seek to increase the income derived from its connectivity services with aspect like security and the contextual data value that their networks transport.

IoT Data is the new Oil also for IoT Network Operators

If connectivity seems doomed to play the role of ugly duckling, the data on the other hand see how its value increases and increases with each new technology.

How many times have we seen a presentation with the title "Data is the new Oil”? Even taught by me

Many Telcos are in process of Digital Transformation. The want to compete with the Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon (GAFA) and avoid same situation lived with these Over the Top (OTT) vendors.  IoT is giving them an opportunity to monetize the IoT data and convert their networks in pipelines of value.

IoT data is a new source of revenue without forget that will also produce incremental profit through operational productivity and efficiency.

The new stream of data coming from the physical world and the billions connected things are mostly transported by the IoT Network Operator´s networks and once these data is captured, the IoT Network Operators can monitor everything and feed their AI systems. Is then, when finally, IoT Network Operators can make a lot of money of IoT contextual data and aggregated data.

Can you imagine the opportunities leveraged by the connection of millions of devices and intelligent things over your IoT network? A vast amount of useful data generated by smart containers, smart home appliances, smart cities, connected cars, smart healthcare devices, or wearables, which for many businesses is an extremely valuable commercial tool. IoT Network Operators possess the capability of performing real-time data analytics on readily available data to determine product performance, improve customer experience and forecast network capacity, all of all which IoT-ready businesses could benefit from.

Key Takeaway

IoT connectivity is still at the core of all IoT Network Operators / M2M Service Providers. But some of them are implementing different strategies to capture more business of the IoT value chain. The idea of IoT connectivity will become a commodity with not added value is influencing the decision to invest in new IoT enabled networks (5G, LTE-M, NB-IoT).

It’s clear that there are some strong opportunities for IoT Network Operators / M2M Service Providers looking to capture the full potential of IoT, and it’s time that they open up their services to support companies from all sectors who are looking to employ IoT connectivity but also machine data intelligence as part of their business models in this IoT driven digital transformation.

Telcos offering IoT connectivity should look to monetise data and offer businesses unique insights that could potentially open doors to new revenue streams or even improve operational efficiencies. 

If IoT business is about data and assets, Telcos need to shift from technology and connectivity to business value and creation of valued services.

 

Thanks in advance for your Likes and your Shares.

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Guest post by Peter A. Liss.

Connectivity is wrongly thought of as a commodity, including in the IoT context. This article will give an overview of current developments in IoT Connectivity, and look at their effect on Network Operators, Platform vendors, IoT Solution Providers, and Enterprise & Consumer customers. 

I also cover the likely impact of 5G, Narrowband IoT and programmable SIM cards, and SDN (Software Defined Networks). These new connectivity technologies will bring differentiation, innovation and new revenue from IoT.

OVERVIEW – CONNECTIVITY AND DIFFERENTIATION IN IOT

These new IoT developments include:

1.   Newer networks such Sigfox, LoRA, Narrowband IoT, and soon 5G.

2.   IoT platforms that can manage all types of connectivity.

3.   The growth of eUICC (e-SIMs) or programmable SIMs.

4.   IoT connectivity platforms using SDN (Software Defined Networks).

There are two opposing views about connectivity. On the one extreme, some Vendors pitch that “IoT Connectivity is the foundation of differentiation” (recent Ericsson Webinar). At the other extreme, some Enterprise customers buying these services assume “all IoT connectivity is the same”. 

In my view, the truth is in the middle. On the one hand, IoT hardware such as sensors and IoT applications could drive even bigger differentiation and innovation than the type of IoT connectivity. On the other hand, IoT connectivity should never be viewed as just a commodity that is plug and play.

HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE WITH IOT CONNECTIVITY:

Let’s take a closer look:

1)   There are many different types of Connectivity to choose from (cellular, WiFi, Zigbee, Satellite, and different types of LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Networks). The criteria for selection include data cost, device cost, data rate/speed, battery life, outdoor and in-building coverage, and latency. Some of the much talked about networks like 5G are not yet available, and Narrowband IoT is in its infancy.

2)   The variety of connectivity offerings are increasing. Even taking a single technology like 4G, the offerings in terms of coverage, cost, roaming, integration effort, and customer service do differ widely.

3)   Costs are declining– the cost per MB has decreased, however, this is not the same as connectivity being a commodity (i.e. indistinct service). On the contrary, with more offerings and price competition, there is a greater need to choose the connectivity provider carefully. Pricing models may differentiate not only on cost per MB, but also with additional charges for VAS, the period charged for (monthly, per annum etc.) or number of connections included, or amount of data included in a packaged price. In the case of LPWA, charging can be per message, and not just per MB.

4)   The IoT Connectivity platform is where some of the disruption is happening. This platform manages the cost of connection, quality of service, SIM and device status. Along with the type of connectivity chosen, hardware (gateways & sensors), and IoT Applications built, the connectivity platform will be a key differentiator to your business case or service launch. 

My scheme below shows the place of the IoT Connectivity Management platform as the foundation of the IoT technology stack. Some differentiation could be achieved at any level in the Stack, but the effort required to offer a total solution will depend greatly on the Connectivity chosen at the bottom of the stack.

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WHAT USER CASES WILL NARROWBAND IOT SUPPORT?

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) greatly improves network efficiency and spectrum efficiency and can thus support a massive number of new connections. The same is true of the sister technology Cat-M1 in US, which may also play a role in Europe in future. The majority of these new IoT connections will be industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions that require long battery life, and ubiquitous coverage (including remote areas or indoors). These user cases also require competitive pricing models for low bandwidth solutions, since many industrial IoT cases are not data hungry. 

Some examples of Industrial use cases are monitoring of oil and gas pipelines for flow rates and leaks, noting that often there is no external power in inaccessible areas. Warehouses are another industrial user case for tracking goods with pallets equipped with an NB-IoT module. NB-IoT modules have a long service life, require no maintenance and have a link budget gain of 20 decibel compared with a conventional LTE deployment, giving approximately 10x more coverage than a normal base station, thus penetrating deep underground, and into enclosed spaces indoors. 

Consumer examples of NB-IoT are luggage tracking (click for link to Sierra Wireless Case study), air quality monitoring, and children’s communication devices, and parking solutions.

NB-IoT, is a software upgrade to existing cellular Base Stations (or if the Base Station is old, a new circuit board must be inserted). The Core network also needs some upgrading. NB-IoT is reliant on a SIM card in the IoT device/gateway and partly because of the SIM it offers the same security & privacy features expected of cellular networks. LPWA technologies, such as NB-IoT and category M1 (LTE-M), also offer increased network coverage over a wide area, at a low cost, and with very limited energy consumption. In the case of Narrowband IoT, a battery life of over 10 years or more, is promised by Vendors (it remains to be seen - in the field, it might need a larger battery at an extra cost of approximately 20 Euro).

NB-IoT networks are already becoming available, for example, Deutsche Telekom has rolled out its NB-IoT network to approximately 600 towns and cities across Germany since launch in June 2017. According to Telekom, more than 200 companies now trialling the technology already via commercially available test packages. Nationwide rollout in the Netherlands was completed in May 2017 and Deutsche Telekom brought the technology to six further European markets by the end of 2017. Other major operators have similar roll outs for NB-IoT.

As expected, many IoT platforms are now being designed or upgraded to offer Narrowband IoT connectivity management. Cisco already announced in 2018 the availability of NB-IoT on its Jasper Control Center platform.

WHAT WILL 5G BRING TO IOT?

5G is not yet available commercially, and we can expect the first roll-outs in selected countries in 2019, and even then, just city coverage, or home-based 5G. High speed, high reliability and low latency are the main benefits of 5G.  Whilst NB-IoT is targeted specifically at the IoT Market, 5G is targeted at business & consumer users too. Also, worth noting is that the NB-IoT roll-out is ahead of 5G.

Regarding the high bandwidth of 5G, example uses include security cameras and monitoring, computer vision used in Industrial production, connected car user cases (infotainment, autonomous vehicles, and safety), and traffic control in Smart Cities. The increase in speed between 4G and 5G can be as much as 100 times. This makes a big difference to user cases that require uploading and downloading of video-based content faster and in larger volume.  It remains to be seen whether IoT applications will need to use such high data speeds. Perhaps it will be the Augmented or Virtual Reality cases (AR and VR) that utilise this bandwidth.

With 5G there is very high reliability, which is important to support mission critical services in IoT (e.g. medicine, industry, traffic control). However, the real benefit for IoT is likely to be with the low latency of 5G. Low latency allows more of the computer processing or data analysis required by a device (IoT Gateway or Smartphone) to happen in the cloud. With latency of under a millisecond, there is almost no difference that the data is processed in the cloud rather than the device. This has perhaps more implications for the IOT Solution architect, rather than the user.

Indeed, the user cases that depend on 5G’s low latency are still to be proven in practice. For non-IoT user cases (i.e. human interaction), the latency (such as changing of a pixel on a TV, or response time for instant messaging and online Presence) might not be noticed. However, for an M2M or IoT application in theory there is a great need for low latency and a machine might notice the difference in latency when a human does not. For this reason, the low latency is being pushed by the 5G industry as compelling for IoT (but yet to be proved). IoT user cases that are expected to benefit are remote industrial control, and autonomous vehicles, where milliseconds could be critical.

As explained in the discussion of latency, one change with 5G could be more processing in the Cloud, especially with Edge computing being a focal point in the architecture, and this might help reduce 5G IoT device prices. Other Emerging developments that might affect IOT include virtualised RAN (Radio Access Network) and network slicing. Virtualised RAN is intended to offer bandwidth with lower network costs, since by “slicing” the RAN, it is not necessary to utilise the whole core network, but rather allocate a part of it and the associated costs, thus allowing for profitable use cases with 5G.

WHAT ADVANTAGES DOES A PROGRAMMABLE SIM OFFER IN IOT?

Programmable SIM cards (also called eSIMS or eUICC ) are not new. What has changed is the number of service providers that offer them for IoT. Some prominent examples are Stream, EMnify, Cubic Telecom, KORE, Nokia WING and Teleena. Furthermore, the new generation of Smart SIM and associated management platforms are challenging the MNOs in terms of quality of service and signal coverage. They might also challenge MNOs in terms of cost - see the section below on SDN.  

The “e” in eSIM can mean both electronic (it can switch network and be programmed over the air) and embedded (i.e. deep inside machinery, a car or a remote location). In other words, you do not need physical access to the embedded SIM to update it or to change network, service or security settings.

The advantages of an eSIM are that it can be programmed over the air to find the strongest signal, or according to customer network & service preferences. When a data-service failure is detected, the eSIM can switch dynamically to the best network service. Consider a user case such as Smart Metering. The meter is always connected by being programmed not only to select the strongest signal, but also to select the signal that is best for your Meter technology and customer requirements.

In sum, the IoT Service Provider does not own a network, but can still offer the following to its customers:

•Issue own SIM cards, that can be embedded and switch operator over the air.

•Attach to the best or cheapest radio signal (RAN) – automatically

•Billing capabilities, often in real time, for the pricing of new IoT services.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF SDN ON IOT?

As explained above, the e-SIM is the first disruptive step to being able to offer an IoT service, without being tied to one specific radio network (RAN). The second step is to bypass the Operator’s core network. This is now possible with some Service Providers using Software Defined Networks (SDN) and NFV (Network Feature Virtualisation). They have built their own virtualised core network that is cloud hosted. EMnify is one example that can offer the following advantages:

•Low cost, because designed for IoT, and using proprietary technology (therefore no licencing costs)

•Auto-configuration and scaling. Because it is Cloud Based the service is truly elastic (i.e. can be quickly and simply expanded to meet customer demand for increased data volume, or larger number of SIM cards)

•Pay-as-you-grow pricing

•Flexible and Real time billing that is accessible online

•Have own numbering resources (IMSI, IPv6, MSISDN)

•Manage your own virtual mobile IoT network including Elastic Packet Core, Subscriber Management, OSS/BSS, Management Portals and open APIs. 

•A private and secure device cloud and implement own security policies (such as own VPN – virtual private network - in the core network in the cloud).

The “Gorilla” MNO (e.g. Telekom, Verizon, Vodafone etc) is reduced to providing only the radio network, and with the eSIM you can actually switch networks. To be clear, you are not reliant on the operator for the core network at all, and you have a choice of radio network. In sum, the advantage is that such a virtual network in the Cloud allows IoT user cases that have lower revenues, because the IoT platform is designed for lower connectivity costs.

 

CONCLUSION – DISRUPTION IN THE IOT CONNECTIVITY MARKET

I have built the case that “boring” connectivity is going to be disruptive for IoT, and it will generate growth. In sum, this is because many IoT business models require lower costs for the lower “micro” or “mini” ARPU/revenue that they generate. Secondly, these new network technologies bring improved speed, latency, battery life, and coverage. Thirdly, new technologies like eSIM and SDN, give the customer choice and independence from the MNO.

Enterprise customers will need to get more knowledgeable about the types of connectivity on offer, and the pros and cons, and costs of each technology. Disruption in the market is starting, due to many new offerings from MNO, and MVNOs that are IOT focussed. 

Price declines for NB-IoT and 5G enabled devices will also be business drivers. Many connectivity platforms will struggle to distinguish themselves, but can do so, for example by focussing on particular Verticals, or a specific geographical focus, or own Cloud-based packet core. Enterprise customers need to get the balance between a price that enables the business case, but also choosing connectivity that provides the best service level. 

LPWA technologies such as Narrow-Band promise to open-up new business models due to lower device and connectivity costs better coverage and longer battery life. NB-IoT is still in its infancy and these benefits like lower device costs are still to be proven.  Importantly, the connectivity costs of NB-IoT (as well as module/device costs) will need to be low enough to support the proposed new business cases like parking meters, water meters, luggage tracking, pipe monitoring, and tracking goods in warehouses. 

5G for IoT will enable data hungry business models, insure against capacity constraints, and provide wider coverage and almost no latency. Since 5G roll-out is still in the future, it remains to be seen if (or when) the required network density (using such small cells) is enough to provide the wider coverage and higher data rates promised. Almost zero latency is likely to be the most interesting feature of 5G for the IoT World, especially for critical applications like autonomous driving and industrial control.

Big data, Analytics and Application Enablement Platforms/AEP might sound more exciting and promising for innovation and differentiation in IoT. They sound more compelling than a connectivity management platform and new types of connectivity. However, Connectivity is still the foundation of the IoT business case. It is not a commodity. In particular, Narrow-Band IoT, eSIM and SDN will drive new growth in IoT, together with the imminent roll-out of 5G.

Copyright: Peter A. Liss, an independent and commercially focussed IoT expert, based in Germany, who is also available for freelance consulting work.

This post originally appeared here.

Cover photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash

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Guest post by Daniel Alsén, Mark Patel, and Jason Shangkuan

With new connectivity technologies unlocking opportunities along the IoT value chain, companies must create detailed plans to harness their potential.

The Internet of Things (IoT)—the network of connected “smart” devices that communicate seamlessly over the Internet—is transforming how we live and work. At farms, wireless IoT sensors can transmit information about soil moisture and nutrients to agricultural experts across the country. IoT alarm systems, equipped with batteries that last for years, provide homeowners with long-term protection. Wearable fitness devices—for both people and pets—can monitor activity levels and provide feedback on heart rate and respiration. Although these applications serve different purposes, they all share one characteristic: dependence on strong connectivity.

IoT stakeholders seeking connectivity solutions include radio and chipset makers, platform vendors, device manufacturers, and companies in various industries that purchase IoT-enabled products, either for their own use or for sale to the public. These companies can now choose from more than 30 different connectivity options with different bandwidth, range, cost, reliability, and network-management features. This wide variety, combined with constantly evolving technology requirements, creates a quandary. If stakeholders bet on one connectivity option and another becomes dominant, their IoT devices, applications, and solutions could quickly become obsolete. If they hesitate to see how the connectivity landscape evolves, they could fall behind more aggressive competitors.

Cellular 5G networks—now being refined—might eventually become a universal solution for IoT connectivity. Although some global telecommunications networks and industrial applications now use 5G, this technology will not be widely available for at least five years, because of high development and deployment costs. With annual economic benefits related to the Internet of Things expected to reach $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion by 2025, companies cannot afford to defer their IoT investment until 5G arrives.

To help business leaders identify the connectivity solutions that best meet their current needs, we analyzed 13 sectors, including automotive, manufacturing, construction, and consumer, where IoT applications are common.1In each sector, we focused on connectivity requirements for likely use cases—in other words, the tasks or activities that may be most amenable to IoT solutions. We then identified the most relevant connectivity solutions for each one. In addition, we examined business factors that may influence how the connectivity landscape evolves, as well as the elements of a strong connectivity strategy.

Continue reading the full story here. Photo credit Khara Woods.

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A Fresh Approach to Remote IoT Connectivity

The IoT market has changed in many ways throughout the years, and since it’s a growing industry, there’s an estimated 32.6% CAGR increase in the next five years.

 

As an industry predicted to spend trillions in solutions, IoT’s trends need to be carefully observed and examined in order for implications and applications to be future-proofed.

 

How do you go about doing this? By simply analyzing how IoT is being used, as well as identifying which sectors are showing potential growth. Right now, a lot of focus is given to consumer applications such as Amazon’s dash buttons and smart home appliances. However, there are many opportunities in remote IoT. This covers industries like industrial, transportation, healthcare, etc.

 

One challenge that needs to be dealt with is how connectivity is approached right now. As more IoT and M2M devices would be deployed in rural areas and places with limited connectivity, applications and machines would need an improved infrastructure in order to carry out their purpose in areas with little connectivity.

 

Additionally, the increase of transportation and emergency-related applications would require not only ways to deals with low connectivity but also call for a system that can access multiple networks depending on availability and location.

 

Another challenge is how current devices will handle the developments in IoT and M2M technologies in the next five years. The 2G sunset is just one-way communication companies are affecting the industry.

 

Don’t fret, though, as there are several ways to resolve this and many opportunities left to explore to get ready for IoT’s evolution in the coming years.

 

Want to learn more about the possibilities remote IoT connectivity presents and how you can prepare for them? Check out the following infographic from Communications Solutions Company, Podsystem, and start future-proofing your IoT and M2M applications.

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