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In this article I am going to talk about the 6 technologies that drive innovation in IoT.

IoT has ceased to be just a bunch of sensors that send information to the cloud, to become a complex ecosystem, where very varied technologies intervene.

decentralized crypto

The first of these is cryptography, through technologies such as blockchain and tangle.

Blockchain is the blockchain technology used in most crypto platforms today. The best known is Bitcoin, but there are many projects that use it.

VeChain

An example associated with IoT is VeChain. This technology allows a product to be tracked, from its creation to its sale. 

This has always been a great challenge in the industry, since the relationships between suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, merchants and consumers are based more than anything else on trust between them.

It is very difficult to follow the life of a product and all the parts and inputs that compose it, since multiple actors participate.

VeChain technology comes to solve this issue. 

Imagine a food product that comes from a horticulturist and ends up on the supermarket shelf. With this technology we could know, without leaving any doubt, who the producer was, when the vegetable was harvested, if it is organic or if agrochemicals were used, who transported it, if the environmental conditions for storage and transfer were adequate, and the time who has that product on the shelf.

In this example, IoT is involved in various stages of this process, such as measuring environmental variables or the path traveled by the product.

Many large companies worldwide already use VeChain in their value chain. For example Renault, BMW, Walmart China and others.

IOTA project

IOTA

A cryptographic technology that was created specifically for IoT is IOTA

IOTA does not use blockchain technology, but rather a so-called tangle. 

Through IOTA it is possible for IoT devices to exchange value autonomously. This means that the machines can traffic data and cryptographic tokens without the intervention of people.

Imagine, for example, an electrical energy meter that exchanges tokens in exchange for electrical energy. This new form of payment introduces the concept of liquid money, since payments are made smoothly and gradually, instead of paying the bill at the end of the month as we do now.

Tiny ML

The second technology that is changing IoT is machine learning, particularly that which runs at the edge. That is, in IoT devices.

It has been possible for some time to run machine learning models on embedded devices, and this is advancing at a rapid pace as new libraries are developed.

The most used today is Flow Lite Tensioner, a library derived from Tensor Flow, developed by Google.

Although the construction of machine learning models requires a lot of computing power, the execution of these models, when optimized, can be done with few resources in embedded systems.

silver and green circuit board
Photo by Alessandro Oliverio on pexels.com

In this way, an IoT device can analyze an image, a sound, a vibration pattern, etc., and send the results to the IoT platform. 

This optimizes the use of network resources and allows intelligence to be used at the edge, even with limited communication links. 

Let's imagine, for example, that we have a camera to detect animals, but there is no Internet availability in the place. Through a LoRaWAN connection, although we cannot send the images due to the low bitrate, we can send the results of running the model on the device.

ML in the cloud

The counterpart of intelligence at the edge is the well-known intelligence in the cloud.

Cloud platforms can have large computing capacities, so the analytics that can be run are much more complex. 

In addition, the generated models can be updated based on the new information that is obtained.

On the other hand, by running the analytics in the cloud, the user can choose the most appropriate one at the time, modify the parameters, etc. In short, the use of analytics in the cloud offers a lot of versatility.

In addition, the cloud solution allows large amounts of data to be saved, which can be used for further analysis, or even sold.

efficient communications

The fourth technology has to do with the evolution of communications for IoT.

The communication needs of IoT devices are very varied. From surveillance cameras in a city to environmental sensors in remote locations, the characteristics of communication technologies must be adapted to each case.

5G technology promises to offer connectivity on a large scale, but there is still a long time before it is widely available in Latin America. In addition, the deployments will be focused mainly on the most densely populated urban centers.

Beyond the expectation generated by this technology, there are other options.

On the one hand, for indoor or short-range applications, BLE bluetooth low energy technology is an ideal option for indoor asset tracking using beacons. Also to connect environmental sensors.

For wide area networks, the most used options are NB-IoT cellular technology and LoRaWAN.

I believe that the NB-IoT offer by service providers in Argentina is not yet very mature and their proposals are not very transparent. Surely this will change over time.

LoRaWAN

On the other hand, I think that LoRaWAN is an excellent option, since it not only allows the use of public networks (which are still scarce in Latin America), but also the creation of a private infrastructure without having to pay licenses.

LoRaWAN offers long range and low power consumption, which is ideal for sensors in places where there is no signal from service providers and there is no electricity. It is even an excellent choice for indoor deployments as well.

ultra low power consumption

Energy saving has become a key element in the deployment of IoT devices, especially those that are powered by batteries.

Microcontrollers have long been designed with low power in mind, being able to operate in deep sleep states.

To these characteristics must be added the high efficiency of the voltage converters, which feed the chips.

And on the other hand, the use of communication technologies that make an increasingly efficient use of energy.

Innovation in this field is permanent.

energy harvesting

Finally, the latest technology is energy harvesting or energy harvesting.

This is something that has been done for some years with very good results. It is about collecting energy from the environment and using it to power devices.

This energy can be obtained from a wide variety of sources, such as mechanical energy due to vibration or movement, thermal energy through TEG cells, photovoltaic energy or electromagnetic energy from electromagnetic waves.

Source: https://www.maximintegrated.com

These power sources can supply power from fractions of microwatts to hundreds of milliwatts, depending on the source.

In the specific case of photovoltaic energy, we know that we can economically generate a few hundred watts.

To use energy harvesting it is crucial to select the energy source based on the field of application and the type of device.

conclusion

So far this summary of the 6 technologies that are driving innovation in IoT. Do you think I missed something? I read you in the comments.


1 Comment

VITRIKO · 13 October, 2021 at 11:27 AM

Excellent post as always, greetings from Alicante. #IoTforthewin

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