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Device Twins In Industrial IoT Solutions

Guest post by Rick Blaisdell

Device twins are becoming a hot topic as the IoT network gathers greater popularity. Device twins are important in the development and deployment of industrial IoT solutions. They act like virtual devices representing the data and metadata of the physical device connected to the IoT network.

The rise of device twins has been noticed by one Gartner report, which placed this as a top five trend for 2016. The twin devices are typically called twins, shadows or device virtualization.

Each device activated and registered with an IoT platform contain two categories of data. The first one is the metadata which doesn’t change often. Here we include the details that describe precisely the device such as serial number, firmware version, model or year of manufacturing. The second category of data contains real-time and unique data from the device.

Why is the digital twin so valuable?

The concept of the digital twin is a powerful one that can bring real benefits such as:

  • Visibility: the virtual version of the device allows visibility in the operations of the machines and also enables larger interconnected systems.
  • Predictability: by using various modeling techniques, mathematics-based or physics-based, the digital replica can be utilized to predict a future state of the device.
  • Analysis: through well-designed interfaces, the interaction with the model is simplified, and people could address “what if” questions to simulate various conditions that are impractical to create in real life.
  • Documentation and communication mechanism: the digital twin can be used as a communication mechanism, which can provide understanding and explications for different behaviors.
  • Connecting backend business applications: the digital twin can be used successfully to create a connection with the backend business app to achieve useful outcomes in the context of supply chain including procurement, transportation, and logistics.

Industrial twins

These implementations are adopted in general by the Industrial IoT providers, and these constitute information from the Product Lifecycle Management tools on the design of a machine, but it could also be designed as a model of one device. The industrial vendors look at the physical properties, the design of information and then present them in an asset model.

These industrial twins could be implemented as:

  • Virtual twin (device virtualization);
  • Predictive twin (using analytics models);
  • Twin Projections (insights projection);

Within the next few years, billions of things will be represented by their twins, creating a dynamic software model of the physical item. The digital shadows combined with the representations of environments and facilities, as well as businesses, people or processes will enable a sophisticated digital image of the real world, suitable for analysis, simulation, and control.

If you have questions about the topic do not hold back on them.

This post originally appeared here.

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By Rick Blaisdell. This article originally appeared here.

In the next five years Internet of Things communications will see unprecedented growth, and cellular connectivity will become even more valuable. Wireless cellular technologies have found enormous potential as key enablers for IoT, and the continuously increasing technology enhancements and innovations in cellular technologies are promising to be the major primary access methodologies to enable a great number of IoT applications.

Cellular technologies are already being used for IoT today in several use cases and are expected to be used even more in the future as these use cases require excellent mobility, strong networks, robust security, economic scale and communications independent of third party access. At the same time, the Internet of Things requires low complexity, low cost devices with long battery life times as well as good coverage for long communication range and penetration to reach the most challenging locations.

The challenge for the cellular industry now is to unlock the value of this interconnected web of devices in a secure, flexible and manageable manner. The goal is to identify a framework of promising solutions and cover a set of innovative approaches and technologies to meet these challenges.

The cellular IoT alphabet

MTC, Cat-0, Cat-1, LTE-M … Some might get confused with all the acronyms related to cellular IoT, so let’s go through it and explain where the different terms come from and what they mean.

As you probably know, 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) uses the concept of “Releases” to refer to a stable set of specifications which can be used for implementation of features at a given point of time. User Equipment (UE) Category is one important term here. Categories are used to define general UE performance characteristics – for example, maximum supported data rate in uplink and downlink data channels, and to what extent different multi-antenna capabilities and modulation schemes are supported.

The latest stable Release is Release 12, where the categories range from Category 0 up to Category 13. Release 13, which is being finalized at the moment, will include further UE Categories including at least the so-called “Cat-M1” intended for IoT devices.

Cat-1 – Category 1 – was included in the LTE specifications already in the beginning, Release 8. With a Cat-1 UE, it is possible to achieve 10 Mbps downlink and 5 Mbps uplink channel data rates. Cat-1 has not been a relevant UE category for LTE-based mobile broadband services, as its performance is below the best 3G performance. Now it has become an attractive, early alternative for IoT applications over LTE, because it is already standardized.

Cat-0 – Category 0 – is one of the newest standardized categories from Release 12. Cat-0 UEs are intended for IoT use cases, and provide 1 Mbps data rates for both up- and downlink. Cat-0 UEs have reduced complexity by up to 50% compared to Cat-1; requirements include only one receiver antenna and support of half-duplex operation, providing ways for the manufacturers to significantly reduce the modem cost compared to more advanced UE categories.

LTE-Advanced technology, the chief vehicle of 4G cellular connectivity, started to and will continue evolving to provide new features that support a range of high and low performance and cost-optimized IoT device categories. So far, the focus has been on meeting the huge demand for mobile data with highly capable devices that utilize new spectrum.

However, the arrival of LTE-M signifies an important step in addressing MTC (Machine-Type Communications) capabilities over LTE. LTE-M brings new power-saving functionality suitable for serving a variety of IoT applications; Power Saving Mode and eDRX extend battery life for LTE-M to 10 years or more. LTE-M traffic is multiplexed over a full LTE carrier, and it is therefore able to tap into the full capacity of LTE. Additionally, new functionality for substantially reduced device cost and extended coverage for LTE-M are also specified within 3GPP.

The Internet of Things is set to ascend, and operators have a unique opportunity to offer affordable connectivity on a global scale. At the same time, for IoT applications, existing cellular networks offer distinct advantages over alternative WAN technologies, such as unlicensed LPWA.

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By Rick Blaisdell. This article originally appeared here.

Unlike other industries, healthcare has been relatively conservative and slow in embracing innovations like cloud computing and the IoT, but that is starting to change, especially if we think about the past years. Innovative tech products and services are more and more part of our daily lives, making it harder for healthcare providers to ignore the potential advantages of connected medical devices.

Moreover, a new term is used more and more to describe this amazing connection between the Internet of Things and healthcare, and that is the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). IoMT is the collection of medical devices and applications that connect to healthcare IT systems through online computer networks. Medical devices equipped with Wi-Fi allow the machine-to-machine communication, thus developing the basis of IoMT.

At the same time, healthcare companies are renewing their operative models through digital health technologies and are focusing more on prevention, personalization, consumer engagement and improved patient outcomes to remain competitive. Here are some great examples:

  • An asthma inhaler with a built-in GPS-sensor – Propeller Health has released an FDA-approved asthma inhaler with a GPS-sensor. Basically, a tracking device is placed into an asthma inhaler, providing support and helping reduce the cost for health systems and thus for patients. Every time the inhaler is used, time and location are being saved, the GPS-data recorded and imported into a personal profile. This allows for tracking of the time and location of the use of the inhaler, allowing a user to even avoid those areas which may prompt his/her asthma attacks.
  • New system for optimizing workflows in hospitals – In cooperation with Microsoft andHealthcast, The Henry Mayo Newhall hospital in Valencia, California implemented a smart system which provides the doctors with access to a wide range of data: from patient files to test results, prescriptions and much more. This was achieved by connecting 175 hospital devices, as well as the personal devices of the doctors, to the available computing offices and systems. Thanks to the new system, the doctors have secure access to examine laboratory tests, to write prescriptions, or to view the patient files at any time. As a result, the time for registration was reduced by 95% – from two minutes to six seconds.
  • Digital contact lenses for diabetics – The contact lenses were jointly developed by Google and the Swiss health care group Novartis, and will help diabetics to measure their levels of blood sugar through tear liquid and to transfer it to a glucose monitor or a smart device like a mobile phone.
  • Smart monitoring of medication – Vitality has been one of the pioneers in the medication area, developing a new system called GlowCap. Those drug containers use light and sounds to signal the patient when the time to take the medicine has come. They also remind the patient automatically through a call. Moreover, every week a report is being sent to customers, with information about how they should be taking their medication.

To drive adoption of IoMT systems and to achieve more end-to-end solutions, hospital administrators, vendors and manufacturers must cooperate to lead healthcare through this important change. The impact is clearly visible, as companies are developing a collaborative culture in embracing digital technology, and the next five to 10 years will be essential as they manage the data from patients and incorporate this into the physician’s workflow.

Photo source: freedigitalphotos.net

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