Technology requirement in IoT product Development

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects that have sensors, and are supported by software, and other technologies for connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet/any other network such as bluetooth, NBIoT , LTE etc. Technology requirement in IoT Products involves a combination of different tech stack required in development of Hardware and Firmware , IoT application development and IoT cloud integration , which in themselves requires knowledge of different elements.

What is IoT technology made of?

Full stack IoT development in itself is a set of technology stacks which includes development of hardware , programming the hardware ( Embedded Firmware ) , Connecting the devices with a communication protocol, sending data to the central server with IoT data protocol , IoT App development etc.

The IoT technology stack

The IoT technology stack can prove a tough nut to crack if we try to find our way through this technological maze. This is because of the complexity of the IoT technology. However, in this blog, we are going to simplify and attempt to break down the IoT technology stack into 5 basic technology layers involved in making the Internet of Things work. These are the following: 

IoT Device Hardware

Devices act as the interface between the physical and digital worlds. They are the first layer of the IoT technology stack. Device hardware includes Microcontrollers used in IoT applications, sensor based devices ,  connectivity modules etc.

IoT Firmware 

IoT firmware enables implementation of communication with the Cloud or other local devices. With this, we can perform real-time analytics, data acquisition from your device’s sensors, and even control all the data.

Firmware is important because it acts as the link between the real world (hardware) and the Cloud Applications. Also, with this increase in number of IoT devices , Fota in IoT devices is an most required feature.

IoT Communication protocol

Communication refers to the different methods through which the device exchanges information with the rest of the world. Communications is the third layer of the IoT technology stack. It is sometimes also referred to as connectivity. IoT communication Protocols helps in communication between IoT devices and Cloud.

IoT Cloud platforms

The cloud platform is the backbone of your IoT solution. A Cloud platform provides the infrastructure that supports vital areas such as data collection, processing, and IoT data analytics.

IoT cloud/ mobile Application

These are end-user applications that act as the user interface for the IoT system. These applications will most likely be web based IoT Application, and or mobile based IoT application. Sometimes there will also be IoT apps for desktop and even wearables.

technology requirement in IoT

Here’s some more detail about these technologies

IoT Hardware

IoT Boards

An IoT device hardware is a printed circuit board (PCB) that has circuitry and hardware components designed to work with a specific microcontroller.  Electronics prototyping is one of the initial steps of IoT hardware development.

Here’s a look at the important components of an IoT board

  • Power circuit– It is generally set up to run off of a 9V power supply
  • Programming interface– It enables you to program the microcontroller from a computer.
  • Basic input – These are usually buttons
  • Basic output– These are usually LEDs
  • I/O pins–  These are used for motors, temperature sensors, LCD screens, etc.

Key must-have features for all IoT boards:

  • Processing power – This could be in the form of a CPU, microcontroller, FPGA, or other CPLD. A microcontroller is quite useful for programming the device as many manufacturers provide the IDE that you require.
  • Wireless capabilities – It ensures wireless communication without an external transceiver module. Some of the most commonly used wireless technologies include Bluetooth, Zigbee, WiFi and other LPWAN technologies  .
  • Scalability – With scalability, you can add more functionality to the board. You may want to cross-check if the board communicates via GPIO, UART, SPI, or some other protocol since this will decide how the board interacts with other devices.
  • Memory – Board memory is considered important because your board storage capability depends on it. To store much data, you need built-in Flash memory. Most IoT boards allow connecting a MiniSD or MicroSD card to increase data storage.

Examples of commonly used IoT boards

  • RaspberryPi
  • IntelEdison
  • Particle
  • Arduino

IoT Firmware

IoT Firmware development refers to the development of code running on hardware. Firmware is quite vital to the functioning of the hardware’s operation. It interacts with the hardware’s electrical components and is not regularly updated .This explains the “firm” in firmware.  For updates in IoT hardware, FOTA should be be supported. 

Custom Embedded Firmware development requires expertise in programming the hardware along with the compatibility with various other peripherals.

IoT Cloud Platform

IoT cloud platforms leverage the power of IoT devices and cloud computing. They are also referred to by other terms such as Cloud Service IoT Platform. IoT devices have multiple sensors that are connected to the cloud, usually via things called IoT gateways. The market is replete with a number of robust cloud platforms provided by famous service providers. 

Here are the most commonly used cloud platforms:

  • Google Cloud IoT
  • Amazon AWS IoT Core
  • Microsoft Azure IoT Hub
  • IBM Bluemix IoT cloud
Google Cloud IoT 

It was launched by Google and is currently one of the world’s leading Internet of Things platforms. The integration of numerous services that add to the value of linked solutions is what is known as Google Cloud IoT. Some of these services are:

  • Cloud IoT Core Cloud Pub/Sub
  • Google BigQuery 
  • AI Platform 
  • Google Data Studio 
Amazon AWS IoT Core

AWS IoT is the provider of cloud services that connect IoT devices to other devices and AWS cloud services. AWS IoT provides device software that can help in the integration of IoT devices into AWS IoT based solutions. If the devices can connect to AWS IoT, AWS IoT can connect them to the cloud services that AWS provides.

With AWS IoT, you can select the most appropriate and up-to-date technologies for your solution. AWS IoT Core supports these protocols for IoT services:

  • MQTT (Message Queuing and Telemetry Transport)
  • MQTT over WSS (Websockets Secure)
  • HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol – Secure)

Most IoT devices uses MQTT as it can provide two way communication.

data transmission in iot

IoT Communication protocols 

Bluetooth and BLE

It is defined in the category of Wireless Personal Area Networks. Bluetooth is a commonly used short-range communication technology. Bluetooth Low-Energy, a technology later introduced is optimized for power consumption. It is used in small-scale consumer IoT applications such as fitness and medical wearables like oximeters, smart watches etc.

RFID

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). This technology makes use of radio signals to transmit small amounts of data from an RFID tag to a reader located within a very short distance. Till now, the technology has facilitated a major revolution in retail and logistics.

RFID technology is simple to use. By simply putting an RFID tag on different products and equipment, businesses can track their inventory and assets in real-time – allowing for better stock and production planning as well as optimized supply chain management. Alongside increasing IoT adoption, RFID continues to be entrenched in the retail sector, enabling new IoT applications like smart shelves, self-checkout, and wearables.

Wi-fi

Wi-Fi is used for connectivity in IoT solutions. However, in the IoT space, its major limitations in coverage, scalability and power consumption make the technology much less prevalent.

Due to high energy requirements, Wi-Fi is often not a preferred solution for large networks of battery-operated IoT sensors, especially in industrial IoT settings. Instead, it is more conveniently used in use cases where the devices are connected to a power outlet. Examples include smart home gadgets and appliances, digital signages etc.

With the increase in IoT devices, the requirement for Low Power Network arose. Therefore, there are many other networks built for connectivity of IoT devices considering the drawbacks of Wi Fi.

LPWAN – Low power wide area network

The LPWAN technology is a relatively new phenomenon in IoT. It provides long-range communication by using small, inexpensive batteries that have a long life. Low Power Wide Area Network is best suited for large-scale IoT networks spread over vast industrial and commercial campuses.

Some LPWAN Technologies work with gateways and others without a gateway.

Some LPWA networks which require gateways as a bridge are-

Examples of Low power Networks which do not require gateways are –

Choosing between LTE – M and NBIoT is totally dependent on the application.

connectivity in IoT
IoT data Protocols

IoT protocols are an integral part of the IoT technology stack. Without IoT protocols and standards, hardware would be deemed useless. This is because IoT protocols enable hardware to exchange data. And, out of these transferred pieces of data, useful information can be extracted by the end-user.

MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) 

An MQTT is a lightweight IoT data protocol. It features a publisher-subscriber messaging model and allows for simple data flow between different devices.

CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol)

A CoAP is an application layer protocol. It’s designed to address the needs of HTTP-based IoT systems. HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and it’s the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web.

XMPP ( Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol)

 It was formerly known as Jabber, and is a communications protocol based in XML (Extensible Markup Language), aimed at message-oriented middleware and applications such as near-real-time instant messaging and presence information. XMPP is designed to be extensible, and has been used for publish-subscribe systems, file transfer, and communication in embedded Internet-of-Things networks.

IoT applications

IoT applications are end-user interfaces that run and control the IoT devices. These are tailor made for specific industries and verticals, such as  healthcare, industrial automation, smart homes and buildings, automotive, smart wearable technology etc. Today, IoT applications are using AI and machine learning to add intelligence to devices.

Developers make use of various frameworks for IoT app development. These are:

Challenges and future possibilities in IoT development technologies

Major challenges in IoT technologies include security, high cost and data privacy. As the era of digitization proceeds, there are increased security risks from cyber frauds. 

Another critical issue in IoT technologies is the issue of data privacy. Since IoT also involves sending, receiving and processing of personal data (eg. fitness and training devices), it runs the risk of getting leaked due to network security issues or due to malicious hackers. The last challenge concerns the high cost of IoT technologies.

Efforts should be made to bring down the cost of key IoT technologies for wider and deeper penetration of IoT.

PsiBorg , an IoT solutions company ,specializes in crafting tailored IoT solutions that leverage these latest technologies to suit your requirements.

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