The Internet of Thing (IoT) is changing EVERYTHING. There are literally billions of IoT devices around us today, with hundreds more coming online each second. By 2020, there will be roughly 50 billion connected devices. By 2028, the IoT may become so pervasive that we won’t even need to refer to devices as being part of it anymore. It will just become a given that they are connected and interoperable.
As part of that evolution, the IoT will evolve from a focus on consumer-based applications like smart appliances for the home, connected clothing, and wearable fitness gadgets, to mission-critical applications for virtually every vertical IoT market there is. Mission-critical IoT devices will be used to automate energy distribution in smart grids, to enable remote machinery and remote surgery, and in autonomous vehicles for things like automatic emergency detection and autonomous vehicle accident prevention. It’s happening already.
As these applications proliferate, what will emerge is a mission-critical ecosystem designed and hardened to withstand the rigors of the real world. It will be able to deliver new functionality and new efficiencies, and it will bring with it many new opportunities for IoT designers and manufacturing engineers alike.
Here’s 3 important tips to help you realize success in the mission-critical IoT.
1. Understand your requirements
Unlike consumer-based IoT devices, mission-critical devices must work right every time, without fail. A failure in a pacemaker after all, could result in a patient’s death. That’s why mission-critical IoT devices have specialized requirements dictated by the industry in which they will work. Most require rock-solid security, unfailing reliability—even in harsh environments and remote locations—and the ability to operate with little or no human intervention. They also must abide by any applicable industry or government regulations.
Making sure you fully understand the requirements of the product you are designing is the quickest and easiest way to avoid any costly missteps during its development. It also can help improve your confidence that the product will be utilized as intended in the real world.
2. Don’t overlook these design considerations
Designing any product is hard. Designing a mission-critical IoT product is even harder! That’s because there are just so many things you have to consider. Here are a couple of the considerations you should not overlook.
- Battery Life. Many mission-critical IoT devices are not connected to power and often operate using a single battery for several years without maintenance or battery replacement. To ensure a long battery life, make sure your product’s battery and power management circuit have been optimized.
- Signal and Power Integrity Issues. Interference and crosstalk between each of the product module’s blocks can degrade performance. Ripple, noise and transients riding on your circuit’s low-voltage rails can do the same. Be sure to identify and eliminate these issues.
- EMI/EMC. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) can be problematic in scenarios where large numbers of IoT devices operate simultaneously in close proximity to one other. Be sure to weed out such problems early in the design process when they are easier and cheaper to fix.
- Wireless Connectivity. Mission-critical IoT devices have to perform in the presence of multiple users, with different wireless technologies, in the same spectrum. Verifying that your device can handle this load is critical to ensuring robust wireless connectivity.
- Co-Existence and Interference. With lots of mission-critical IoT devices entering the market, the chance of interference between devices goes up and that can impede the ability of your product to peacefully co-exist with others. This can be especially problematic in hospitals where medical monitoring devices have to share the 2.4-GHz ISM band with the likes of cordless phones, wireless video cameras, and microwave ovens. Making sure your product’s operation can work as anticipated in this type of environment is crucial.
3. Choose your tools wisely
While your creativity and skill are essential to a successful product, if it is not built on a solid foundation, it could all come crumbling down. To ensure your product’s foundation is solid enough to survive the real world, you have to choose the right tools for the right job, and those tools must be accurate, high performance and flexible. There is no universal Swiss Army knife when it comes to designing for the mission-critical IoT.
One of the tools you should consider utilizing is battery drain analysis. It can help you accurately determine your device’s current use and the duration of each of its operating modes, which is critical information when trying to optimize battery life. Signal integrity and power integrity tools can be used to evaluate high-speed serial interconnect and analyze how effectively power is converted and delivered from the source to the load within a system. An accurate EMI simulation and modeling tool will allow you to estimate emission levels before your hardware is developed. And, to ensure your product can communicate effectively, wireless connectivity and co-existence testing are essential.
There is no denying that the mission-critical IoT is ripe with opportunity and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. But whether or not you succeed in this arena will depend heavily on the choices you make about your design’s requirements, regarding design considerations, and on which test and measurement tools to use. If you are looking for more information on the choices you face, please go to www.keysight.com/find/IoT. And don’t forget to keep checking the Keysight Community Page for future blogs on other related IoT topics.iotdevicetest iotwireless iotsolutions iottechnology industrialiot iiot internetofthings iot