10 Internet of Things (IoT) Design Considerations: Interoperability and Security

[fa icon='calendar'] Feb 2, 2015 7:21:26 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in AllJoyn, AllSeen Alliance, Apple, business, cloud apps, end-to-end solutions, ETSI, General, Google, HomeKit, IETF, Internet of Things, internet standards, interoperability, IoT, IoT solutions, IoT space, IoT standards, manufacturers, Microsoft, Nest, protocols, Samsung, security, security threats, Sony, Telecom, Thread, White Papers

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9. Interoperability

As more manufacturers enable their products for the IoT, consumers will be introduced to many different cloud applications due to lack of cooperation between difference devices and companies. This is where the emerging IoT standards can help. Device manufacturers who support these standards will be able to ensure their products will be able to work and communicate with other manufacturers’ products that support the same protocols. This makes operating many IoT-enabled devices together much more simple and convenient. This also opens up new business opportunities by allowing for new features that the original manufacturers never dreamed of. For example, interoperability means that one day it might be possible for a consumer to simply say, “good night, house” to their app, and the app will programmatically turn-off all of the main house lights, TV’s and appliances and turn on the outside lighting, set the alarm clock for the morning and set the coffee pot to start brewing when the sun rises. In this example, each device could be from a different manufacturer, but since they all support the same standard, the application knows how to talk to them all and create new service offerings.

Some of the emerging interoperability standards include: Thread (supported by the likes of Google/Nest, Samsung and more), HomeKit (supported by Apple), AllJoyn (supported by Microsoft and Sony, part of the AllSeen Alliance), IETF (an internet standards body) and ETSI (a European-based standards organization – primarily in Telecom). The standards landscape is changing rapidly and manufacturers need to adapt their products to work with these standards as they are consolidated and settled in the future.

10. Security

Building a secure IoT-enabled device comes at a cost. As the IoT continues to grow, there is an increasing focus on its security and how safe the claims of end-to-end solutions really are. While security threats in the news have scared away some manufacturers and consumers from entering the IoT space, others view it as an opportunity for added value to their products. Implementing high-cost security into every product a company has is ideal, however not very economical. Manufacturers must find proper security for each of their IoT solutions while keeping costs down for them and their end-user.

This process must start at the time of a product's conception. Proper due-diligence is required from each manufacturer to find a way to secure their devices, protect their consumer and ultimately, the rest of the IoT world as well.

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>  For more information, please call Grid Connect Inc. at +1 (630) 245-1445, or email us at iot@gridconnect.com.

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10 Internet of Things (IoT) Design Considerations: Antenna and Cloud

[fa icon='calendar'] Jan 26, 2015 3:08:13 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in access point, antenna, antenna design, bill of materials, BOM, ceramic, circuit board, Cloud, cloud applications, coaxial pigtail, companies, connector, data exchange, end-to-end solutions, gateway, General, Internet of Things, IoT, IoT applications, IoT communications, IoT-enabled device, IPEX, mating connector, metal housing, module manufacturers, on-board chip, pin-out, radio frequencies, radios, router, standard protocol, trace, U.FL, whip, wire, wireless technologies, White Papers, wireless signal

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7. Antenna

Most IoT products use wireless technologies to connect with the world. The type and number of wireless technologies used will impact the type and number of antennas needed. For example, 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios all may have different requirements for antenna design.

Module manufacturers often provide multiple options for antennas, such as an on-board chip or ceramic antennas. They may also offer a wire (or “whip”) antenna, a “trace” antenna, or a “pin-out” so the manufacturer can add their own antenna (either internal or external connector elsewhere on the circuit board). In addition manufacturers may offer U.FL (also called IPEX) connectors for external. In this case, the connection from the U.FL connector to the external antenna is accomplished with a short coaxial “pigtail” that has the mating U.FL connector on one end and the mating connector for the antenna on the other end. The costs of the pigtail and antenna are often overlooked but need to be included in a manufacturer’s BOM for their designs.

When selecting between internal and external antennas, designers must consider the material (metal, plastic, etc.) of the housing and the potential placement of the product within a home or business. If a product is placed behind a couch or under a desk, it may have difficulty getting a wireless signal from the nearest gateway, access point, or router. Metal housings almost always require an external antenna design because the metal in the housing greatly reduces the amount of radio frequencies getting in or out of the housing.

8. Cloud

By definition, most IoT applications include some Cloud-based component. Many manufacturers entering the IoT space are new to Cloud development, which makes decision-making for Cloud applications, such as how and when a product will connect to the Cloud, difficult.

“How” an IoT-enabled device communicates with a cloud application refers to what protocol is being used to communicate with the Cloud. Many early IoT implementations followed a proprietary protocol, where the device manufacturer implements its own protocol to communicate with its cloud applications. Recently, more companies have become aware that a standard protocol is needed for IoT communications to be successful and have started providing third party, end-to-end solutions with platforms to develop and host applications.

“When” an IoT device connects to the cloud, refers to the frequency of data exchange with the cloud application. Devices that are always on (connected to a power supply) can easily stay connected to the cloud constantly. This improves the ability to be “near real time” when communicating with the Cloud application. Battery-powered devices often only connect to the internet and send data periodically in order to conserve battery life. In this case there is a delay, as the device has to re-establish its connection to the wireless router and then to the Cloud server. Battery-powered devices should also consider a “heart-beat,” so that the device connects to the Cloud application periodically without an event to trigger it. This allows the application to know the device is still online and has power or battery-life remaining for when an event does occur.

10IOTDESIGNCONSIDERATIONS_BANNER

>  For more information, please call Grid Connect Inc. at +1 (630) 245-1445, or email us at iot@gridconnect.com.

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