The IOT market is getting big and there is no doubt that it will be enormous in just a few years. Gardner has been talking about 25 billion connected “things” by 2020. The perspective of adding intelligence to almost every object is attractive for many and there already lots of people buying security cameras, smart thermostats, home sensors, smart doors, etc. Most of the time these are the same people that have a connected TV, a media Center, a NAS and a connected sound system and, obviously, all sorts of laptops, tablets and smartphones, etc. As good as they are, to perform well; all those devices need the same thing, a good wireless network.
Solutions are already out there
Network companies are starting to address the problem with dedicated solutions. Netgear, which the CEO and Co-founder Patrick Lo is a strong IOT believer, is for example going to release Orbi, a system composed of a Wi-Fi router and satellites to expand the network communicating with the router via a dedicated tri-band wireless connection. The development of these products is long and difficult yet absolutely required.
“There were a lot of problems and we learned some hard lessons” said Patrick Lo. “That was 3 years and a half ago and we continue to correct the algorithm, change hardware, and now we’re really happy. Apple and us are the only guys still hacking it out in hardware in Silicon Valley. Our game has always been hardware and to make it so simple.”
For some types of devices there is the gateway solution. Some security systems, like the Orbi system, work the other way around. All the sensors and cameras monitoring the house communicate with a gateway using a dedicated connection. The gateway itself is directly connected to the LAN.
Choosing the right technology
Still Wi-Fi is not always the best solution and many products are now relying on mobile networks. Companies like the leader Telit are producing communication modules using 2G, 3G and 4G. The company also provides a full packaged solution for IOT manufacturers. That includes a platform and resold communications from a variety of mobile networks.
Others, like LitePoint, believe in the use of low energy Bluetooth also known as Bluetooth Smart for its facility to deploy and its reliability for many uses.
“Bluetooth low energy has become one of the most widely deployed wireless technologies on the market and its adoption shows no sign of slowing down. Winning the IoT race will come down to two things — getting there first, with the highest quality. LitePoint’s Bluetooth Advanced is the only test solution on the market that is able to characterize and verify Bluetooth low energy devices via over-the-air testing. This enables product developers to get their products to market quickly with assured quality because they can be tested fully assembled – ensuring the performance of all components, including the antenna,” said Adam Smith, Director of Product Marketing at LitePoint.
Larger scale solutions
Some are even planning to go further, like Digita. The company plans to build a nationwide network in Finland enabling the Internet of Things during this autumn. The network will cover 85% of the population and around 95% of enterprises, the primary target group of the network.
“The range of the digital applications of IoT is almost unlimited – and already achievable. IoT offers great business opportunities for Digita and other Finnish companies in the coming years,” says Juha Pekka Weckström, CEO of Digita. Weckström notes that Digita’s existing intrastructure supports the IoT network very well. Digita estimates that, by 2023, almost 20 million IoT sensors will have been installed across Finland, monitoring and easing our everyday lives.
The practical applications of IoT include facilities automation solutions and smart traffic. COO Markus Ala-Hautala provides an example of the applications of the network: “An apartment rental company such as VVO Group can make use of the Digita IoT network in optimising their residents’ living comfort and the healthiness of the building by adjusting living conditions on the basis of data transmitted over the network.” Digita plans to extend IoT services to other areas after the network expansion, as services develop and customer demand increases.
There is no doubt networks are going to be one of the main issues in IOT. Either it is via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or mobile networks, things will really get connected in the years to come. Also there is no doubt IP V6 with its addressing scheme, providing more addresses than there are grains of sand on earth, will be mandatory to enable efficient peer-to-peer communications.
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