Exploring Connectivity Solutions for IoT Systems

IoT System Connectivity Types

 

What good is a strong impulse if the connection is weak? That may sound like dating advice, but it applies to IoT systems as well! The next segment of our free eBook explains the various connectivity solutions used to transmit data between IoT devices and servers.

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Connectivity Solutions

An internet protocol relies on connectivity to transport data between nodes. Con- nectivity can be thing-to-thing, thing-to-server, or server-to-server. There are several node architecture options. They can range from simple, point-to-point solutions, to complex, sophisticated solutions.

Connectivity options for IoT systems include:

  • Wired Direct

The IoT device is physically wired into the internet (e.g. Ethernet)

  • Wireless Direct

The IoT device wirelessly communicates with the internet (e.g. a Wi-Fi or cellular connection)

  • Wireless Local Connection, Wired Internet Connection

The IoT device communicates wirelessly with a local system using a short range, local connectivity solution. The local system, itself, is physically wired into the internet (e.g. via ethernet).

  • Wireless Local Connection, Wireless Internet Connection

The IoT device communicates wirelessly with a local system using a short range, local connectivity solution. The local system, itself, connects wire- lessly to the internet.

  • Star Network

A star network has a central node managing connections with many other nodes. The central node is the hub, or access point (AP). The AP connects to the internet, providing the connection for all other nodes. Nodes do not talk to each other unless the AP forwards the message.

  • Mesh Network

A mesh network allows nodes within a specified range to talk to one another. Using multiple paths from the source node to the destination node, creates a robust network. However, the routing can get complicated depending on the requirements of the system. Typically, the internet connects to only one node in this network type.

IoT systems node architecture

Wireless Radio Technology for IoT Systems

What is the best wireless technology for IoT systems? The answer is, there isn’t one. There are numerous candidates for wireless technology. Which candidate is best is dependent on the design constraints of the IoT system. Below is a helpful chart to organize your constraints as you read through the IoT wireless solutions:

ConstraintDescription
EnvironmentThe operating location of deployed devices. A primary input to design. Input to power, communication range, and serviceability constraints.
SizeDevice enclosure size. If constrained, may introduce constraints on antenna size or power supply.
CostEach sub-system in the IoT system should have a cost target. A primary input often initially ignored but it will introduce constraints everywhere.
DataThe amount and frequency of data to be captured and sent (e.g. bps) as well as the life span of that data (how long will it persist in each storage location). A primary input but often constrained by environment, size, or cost. Establishes storage requirements

on-board a device and remote in the Cloud as well

as bandwidth requirements between nodes.

ServiceabilityEach system will have a finite life or a service requirement. Typically constrained by environment and cost, may introduce constraints on power. Also, drives standard or proprietary technology preferences.
PowerIf main power is unavailable, power becomes a significant design consideration with dependencies on size, environment, cost, data, serviceability, and compute.
On-board ProcessingRequirements for on-board vs. remote processing power, logic and storage capabilities. Constrained by size, cost, and power.
Simplex/ DuplexThe mode of operation is dictated by Data requirements, simplex (one way transmission, send data) or duplex (two-way transmission, send and receive).
SecurityLike cost, a primary constraint that is too often ignored. Since these devices are connected into larger internet systems, they can become a backdoor for security hacking, etc.

 

Examples:

Your device transmits mass amounts of data frequently: You will need a high bandwidth solution.

Your device is size constrained: Your device’s small size will force you to use a solution that can accommodate a smaller antenna and battery.

Your device must transmit data over a long distance: Your radio solution will need to operate at a lower data rate, use a lower frequency, implement a larger antenna, or increase your power capacity.

Your device must operate for days, weeks, or months without a re-charge of power: You will need to limit the range, reduce the data amount and frequency, and or invest in a more expensive power technology such as high density batteries or energy harvesting.

Read more about the IoT Technical Stack in “A Reference Guide to IoT” eBook.

Fill out our contact form if you have questions about IoT. We may not have all the answers but with our cross-disciplined IoT network, we certainly can get you the help you need.

About the Author:  This is an excerpt from our eBook co-authored by Bridgera LLC and RIoT.

Bridgera LLC is a Raleigh, NC based software company specializing in IoT software solutions with Bridgera IoT, not just another IoT Platform but Custom Software-as-a-Service for the Internet of Things.

RIoT is a registered trademark of the Wireless Research Center of North Carolina. RIoT represents a network of technologists, engineers, business leaders, academics, policy makers, and entrepreneurs, all of whom have a stake in the Internet of Things industry.

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Written by Jordan Eller on September 18th, 2017
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