Join IoT Central | Join our LinkedIn Group | Post on IoT Central


software (6)

IoT is disrupting almost every industry sector including communications. As power consumption has become a challenge for IoT devices, cellular IoT has introduced some standards that are cutting-edge. Let’s take a look at those standards and their device categories.

Remember the days when the “E” icon on the notification bar of our phones used to make us excited? 

Well, if we compare that to today, technology has skyrocketed like anything. It was just a matter of time before that E icon turned to 4G LTE.

Today, there are billions of devices that run on the 4G network providing lightning-fast internet to the users. And it does not end here. The wave of 5G is ready to take on the world. Though some countries have already deployed 5G, it is yet to conquer the entire world.

Now, IoT is not a buzzword anymore. It is an awesome technology that connects various internet-enabled devices and is known to everybody. The use of IoT allows devices to share data at a faster pace. But, there is one challenge!

As these devices are connected to cellular networks like 3G and 4G LTE, they consume a lot of power. In a way, it is acceptable, but not if the devices are sending a small amount of data occasionally. So what’s the solution here? Cellular IoT!

Cellular IoT deals with some of the best IoT standards and devices that make the existing cellular technology fit for low-powered devices. If you are interested to know how; read ahead and find out!

Why are IoT LTE devices necessary?

Well, the need for IoT devices comes into the picture when we analyze applications like predictive maintenance, asset tracking, fleet management, inventory management, remote service, etc.

All these applications are backed by powerful yet sensitive devices that transmit data to ensure that all your business processes are running fine. LTE is the technology that helps them. IoT devices under LTE can be classified based on the LTE standards!

LTE-M/ Cat-M1:

This standard covers devices that run under the bandwidth of 1.4 MHz. Most of the devices under the standard are smart meters, fleet management devices, and asset tracking devices.

Cat-1:

The operating bandwidth of Cat-1 devices is 20 MHz which allows for devices like ATMs, POS terminals, and wearables to operate.

Cat-4:

The devices under Cat-4 have the maximum download and upload speed, which makes them ideal for applications like autonomous vehicles, real-time video, and in-car infotainment.

NB-IoT/ Cat-NB1:

The IoT LTE devices under NB-IoT have the maximum latency, which makes them crucial for applications like parking sensors, street lighting, industrial monitors, and more.

What are the various IoT LTE devices categories?

Well, if we talk about the device categories, IoT LTE devices can be classified into four categories based on cellular IoT standards. The newest of these four standards are LTE-M and NB-IoT.

10890697683?profile=RESIZE_710x

Let’s read ahead and find out about the IoT LTE device categories!

 

1. LTE-M/ Cat-M1

Let’s begin with the LTE-M standard. The LTE-M standard is an excellent discovery that is ideal for devices that require less power and less bandwidth. Here are some key pointers related to the device categories of LTE-M!

  • The devices based on the LTE-M standard have an upload speed of 1 Mbps, and the same is the download speed.
  • On top of that, the latency in the case of LTE-M devices is 10-15 milliseconds. The latency is enough to ensure that the required data is transmitted at regular intervals.
  • The bandwidth of the LTE-M is enough to ensure that the devices are able to function well in the prevailing 2G and 3G applications.
  • The best thing about the LTE-M standard is handoff for devices. It allows seamless handoff that makes the standard ideal for applications like asset tracking and fleet management where devices are on the move.
  • Cat-M1 was created as an integral part of Release 13 of the 3GPP’s LTE standards.

2. Cat-1

Apart from the above-described device categories, Cat-1 is a category that is a part of Release 8 of the 3GPP standard. Though it is a part of the old technology, it is still widely used across the globe. Here are some features of the Cat-1!

  • The Cat-1 standard is made for IoT device categories that have low and medium bandwidth needs.
  • The speed of the Cat-1 device is more than that of LTE-M. The upload speed of the Cat-1 devices is 5 Mbps, and the download speed is 10 Mbps.
  • One of the best things about Cat-1 is that it has less latency. The latency of the signals is just 50-100 milliseconds.
  • The Cat-1 standard uses a massive bandwidth of 20 Mhz in a full duplex. The full duplex capability of the devices allows for smooth handoff, making it ideal for wearables, ATMs, POS terminals, etc.

3. Cat-4

Well, the Cat-4 standard is what it takes to support applications like autonomous cars. The speed of devices in this standard is way more than Cat-1. It can provide you with 50 Mbps upload speed, and 150 Mbps download speed.

The best advantage of the Cat-4 standard is that it supports in-car infotainment, in-car hotspots, and video surveillance.

4. NB-IoT/ Cat-NB1

After the LTE-M, there is NB-IoT or Cat-NB1 standard. Just like LTE-M, there are many aspects that make it a bit different and unique. Here are some key pointers about the devices supporting the NB1 standard.

  • The low-cost technology makes use of DSSS modulation technology vs. LTE spread technology to ensure connectivity.
  • The cost factor of the technology is not the only USP. The devices that come under Cat-NB1 have less power consumption, offer excellent in-building coverage, and have longer battery life.
  • If we talk about the upload and download speed of the NB-IoT device category, it is relatively less compared to LTE-M. The upload speed is 66 kbps, and the download speed is 26 kbps. This is in half duplex mode.
  • The latency of NB-IoT is also more than the LTE-M. It oscillates between 1.6 to 10 seconds. Though it seems way more, there are advantages to it. The latency is ideal for small, intermittent data transmissions.
  • NB-IoT is also part of Release 13 of the 3GPP’s LTE standard. It is an LPWAN technology that works on a licensed spectrum.
  • The devices that come under this standard are smart gas, street lights, parking sensors, etc.

Other than these device and standard categories, there are two more standards:

5. Cat-0

As there is a need for low-cost devices and processes, Cat-0 lays the groundwork for that. It eliminates the need for features that require a high data rate in Cat-1. On top of all, Cat-0 is slowly doing the groundwork for Cat-M by replacing 2G.

6. EC-GSM

It is a standard that does not have as much buzz as the LTE-M and NB-IoT. But, it has been tested by brands like Ericsson and Intel for supreme practicality and modularity.

Why Do We Need To Care?

Well, if you are a cellular carrier service provider, you have to care about it. There are many factors that need to be considered while choosing the IoT LTE device category. Here is a brief elaboration of some of the critical ones!

10890699663?profile=RESIZE_710x

1. Power consumption:

Out of all the IoT LTE devices listed above, those who come under the Cat-4 consume the maximum power. After that come the devices under Cat-1. Cat-M1 and NB-IoT devices are the ones that have the minimum power consumption.

2. Battery life:

Battery life is the key factor if the devices are placed in remote locations like the agricultural field. If you are choosing LTE IoT devices, go for devices under standards Cat-M1 and NB-IoT.

3. Cost:

If cost is your concern, then again, Cat-M1 and NB-IoT are the ideal picks for you. They are best for high-volume device applications. Devices under Cat-1 and Cat-4 are more pricey.

4. Adoption:

When it comes to adoption, the adoption of LTE-M and NB-IoT are quickly being adopted by carrier service providers across the globe.

5. Latency:

Latency is the highest in NB-IoT, which makes it ideal for applications that do not need to send continuous data. LTE-M is a bit faster than NB-IoT. Cat-4 is the fastest, which makes it ideal for video applications.

Conclusion

So, now we are clear about what type of IoT devices are under each standard of LTE. LTE-M and NB-IoT are the standards that are being quickly adopted as they are low cost, consume less power, and have max battery life. To make an informed choice, it is necessary for you to analyze each aspect closely. As of now, carrier companies are inclined toward adopting  NB-IoT and LTE-M as they can serve vast applications while being balanced in all aspects.

Read more…

Many businesses are already taking advantage of IoT solutions to improve their efficiency and create new revenue streams. However, if you're considering launching a connected business, one of the most important factors to contemplate is the cost of IoT software implementation. This article will give you an overview of what goes into IoT software development and maintenance. 

Different factors feed into the cost, but the two most common concerns for companies getting into IoT are the cost of initial software development (or “integration”) and ongoing expenses after devices have been deployed. Unfortunately, as key stakeholders ponder over the ever-present build vs buy dilemma, the ones who lean towards building often tend to underestimate both significantly.

Let's take a look at a minimum set of software products you would need today to run a connected product, business, or service. First of all, firmware - software that is uploaded and then runs on the hardware. It provides a low-level control for the device's specific logic. Networks and connectivity – it's a part of firmware development, but I would move it into a separate domain, crucial for any IoT implementation.

Cloud is any service made available to users on demand via the Internet from a cloud computing provider's servers. The IoT servers have different purposes, like administration, monitoring, data gathering and analysis. Applications - once the device is connected, in today's reality you would need a user interface to interact with the device or service, configure it, control and monitor remotely, visualize processes, etc. It can be a touch control, a mobile app, a web app, a voice app (e.g. Amazon Alexa skill), etc.

Working with deployed connected products also usually requires two different types of apps: customer-facing applications (remote control, automation settings, maintenance alerts) and applications for internal company use (fleet management, analytics, device health tracking, performance tracking and maintenance alerts). And one thing is to offer an app, and a totally different thing is to build an app people will actually love to use. The latter requires a particularly strong UI/UX expertise in addition to the expected front-end, back-end and QA resources. 

As part of an IoT solution, you'll need additional storage capacity and processing power to perform analytics, run reports, and house the vast amounts of data that will be generated. Invoicing for these capabilities can vary—from a fixed monthly cost to metered billing—so make sure you understand the pricing model to anticipate cash flow better.

Various IoT platforms offer parts of the solutions for the software needs mentioned above. However, it often takes at least 3-5 different vendors to get everything an IoT powered business needs. Not only is it challenging to manage so many vendors, but also the costs really start adding up, making IoT implementation and maintenance pricing prohibitive for many companies, especially the smaller ones.

Fortunately, there are now options like Blynk IoT platform that have launched solutions tailored specifically at small businesses and startups. As a result, engineers and entrepreneurs worldwide can build and commercialize connected products without the heavy investment typically required to start an IoT-enabled business. Anyone with an MCU, some coding skills, and a great product idea can create an IoT business. And their monthly software costs will be less than what they pay for a typical TV subscription in the US.

Out-of-the-box, Blynk is supposed to cover 90-100% of software needs a business typically faces in the first 2-3 years of IoT operations. The platform functionality includes device provisioning and management, data hosting in the cloud, mobile and web apps for customers and staff, firmware over-the-air updates, user and organization management, data analytics, all kinds of automations and much more.

 

IoT software - build or buy?

As you can see, building your own IoT software from scratch is not a cheap endeavor, especially with a team based in the USA. If you have all of the right people on board and have a bulletproof ROI model for your IoT investment - go for it, build in-house. But if you are an OEM whose main focus remains on their core products and you care about optimizing costs and your time to market - then you are probably better off leveraging a solid IoT platform. Those folks have already spent those years (and in most cases, millions) building out the software you need and testing it out with real clients, in real world conditions, with all of the priceless learnings that come with that.

Read more…

Soft Pasture

By Ben Dickson. This article originally appeared here.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most exciting phenomena of the tech industry these days. But there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding it as well. Some think about IoT merely as creating new internet-connected devices, while others are more focused on creating value through adding connectivity and smarts to what already exists out there.

I would argue that the former is an oversimplification of the IoT concept, though it accounts for the most common approach that startups take toward entering the industry. It’s what we call greenfield development, as opposed to the latter approach, which is called brownfield.

Here’s what you need to know about greenfield and brownfield development, their differences, the challenges, and where the right balance stands.

Greenfield IoT development

In software development, greenfield refers to software that is created from scratch in a totally new environment. No constraints are imposed by legacy code, no requirements to integrate with other systems. The development process is straightforward, but the risks are high as well because you’re moving into uncharted territory.

In IoT, greenfield development refers to all these shiny new gadgets and devices that come with internet connectivity. Connected washing machines, smart locks, TVs, thermostats, light bulbs, toasters, coffee machines and whatnot that you see in tech publications and consumer electronic expos are clear examples of greenfield IoT projects.

Greenfield IoT development is adopted by some well-established brands as well as a lineup of startups that are rushing to climb the IoT bandwagon and grab a foothold in one of the fastest growing industries. It is much easier for startups to enter greenfield development because they have a clean sheet and no strings attached to past development.

But it also causes some unwanted effects. First of all, when things are created independent of each other and their predecessors, they tend to pull the industry in separate ways. That is why we see the IoT landscape growing in many different directions at the same time, effectively becoming a fragmented hodgepodge of incompatible and non-interoperable standards and protocols. Meanwhile, the true future of IoT is an ecosystem of connected devices that can autonomously inter-communicate (M2M) without human intervention and create value for the community. And that’s not where these isolated efforts are leading us.

Also, many of these companies are blindly rushing into IoT development without regard to the many challenges they will eventually face. Many of the ideas we see are plain stupidand make the internet of things look like the internet of gadgets. Nice-to-haves start to screen out must-haves, and the IoT’s real potential for disruption and change will become obscured by the image of a luxury industry.

As is the case with most nascent industries, a lot of startups will sprout and many will wither and die before they can muster the strength to withstand the tidal waves that will wash over the landscape. And in their wake, they will leave thousands and millions of consumers with unsupported devices running buggy—and potentially vulnerable—software.

On the consumer side, greenfield products will impose the requirement to throw away appliances that should’ve worked for many more years. And who’s going to flush down hundreds and thousands of hard-earned dollars down the drain to buy something that won’t necessarily solve a critical problem?

On the industrial side, the strain is going to be even more amplified. The costs of replacing entire infrastructures are going to be stellar, and in some cases the feat will be impossible.

This all doesn’t mean that greenfield development is bad. It just means that it shouldn’t be regarded as the only path to developing IoT solutions.

Brownfield IoT development

Again, to take the cue from software development, brownfield development refers to any form of software that created on top of legacy systems or with the aim of coexisting with other software that are already in use. This will impose some constraints and requirements that will limit design and implementation decisions to the developers. The development process can become challenging and arduous and require meticulous analysis, design and testing, things that many upstart developers don’t have the patience for.

The same thing applies to IoT, but the challenges become even more accentuated. In brownfield IoT development, developers inherit hardware, embedded software and design decisions. They can’t deliberate on where they want to direct their efforts and will have to live and work within a constrained context. Throwing away all the legacy stuff will be costly. Some of it has decades of history, testing and implementation behind it, and manufacturers aren’t ready to repeat that cycle all over again for the sake of connectivity.

Brownfield is especially important in industrial IoT (IIoT), such as smart buildings, bridges, roads, railways and all infrastructure that have been around for decades and will continue to be around for decades more. Connecting these to the cloud (and the fog), collecting data and obtaining actionable insights might be even more pertinent than having a light bulb that can be turned on and off with your smartphone. IIoT is what will make our cities smarter, more efficient, and create the basis to support the technology of the future, shared economies, fully autonomous vehicles and things that we can’t imagine right now.

But as its software development counterpart, brownfield IoT development is very challenging, and that’s why manufacturers and developers are reluctant and loathe to engage in it. And thus, we’re missing out on a lot of the opportunities that IoT can provide.

So which is the better?

There’s no preference. There should be balance and coordination between greenfield and brownfield IoT development. We should see more efforts that bridge the gap between so many dispersed efforts in IoT development, a collective effort toward creating establishing standards that will ensure present and future IoT devices can seamlessly connect and combine their functionality and power. I’ve addressed some of these issues in a piece I wrote for TechCrunch a while back, and I think there’s a lot we can learn from the software industry. I’ll be writing about it again, because I think a lot needs to be done to have IoT development head in the right direction.

The point is, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We just have to use it correctly.

Read more…

Premier Sponsors