New ‘universal translator’ for industrial communications

Jun 6, 2022 9:00:00 AM / by Grid Connect Team posted in IIoT, Industrial IoT, IoT, IoT devices

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Grid Connect, Inc. and Real Time Automation® (RTA®) have partnered to bring original equipment makers a new embedded module that serves as a universal translator for enabling serial devices (RS-232, 422, 485, SPI, I2C) to communicate via protocols such as EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP, PROFINET, BACnet/IP and others. OEMs also gain the capability to push data from plant-floor and field devices to analytical and business applications via OPC UA and MQTT.

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To develop the highly integrated, compact module (33mm x 23mm x 3mm), ​we combined ​RTA's​ protocol stacks with our know-how of hardware and IIoT.Grid32_paperclip

The module offers device makers a quick-to-market, affordable and simple solution for adding a full array of industrial protocols to any new or legacy device a manufacturer uses. If an OEM’s device is interacting with the factory in, say, Modbus, the module enables the equipment maker’s device to communicate in a next-gen protocol like PROFINET. The array of protocols is no longer out of reach for device makers that may be manufacturing a lower volume of new products or facing prohibitively high costs for converting legacy products.

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Read full press release here or at the following sites:

 

About Real Time Automation, Inc.

Established in 1989, Real Time Automation, Inc., is based in Wisconsin and specializes in making easy-to-use connectivity products, source code protocol stacks 

and OEM solutions for use by control engineers on factory floors everywhere.  Learn more

 

About Grid Connect, Inc.

Naperville, Ill.-based Grid Connect, Inc. is an ISO 9001:2015 company and has been a leader in the embedded and networking marketplace for more than 20 years. Grid Connect’s products range from custom OEM smart devices and security controllers to bridges, switches, and diagnostics tools. Along with the products Grid Connect makes, the company also distributes and supports complementary products from other high-quality technology makers. Learn more

 

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How to pick your communication protocol

Jun 2, 2022 9:59:21 AM / by Grid Connect Team posted in IIoT, Industrial IoT, IoT, networking protocol, protocol

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There are so many options that exist to connect to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). How does a business choose between them?

  • Wi-Fi
  • LoRaWAN
  • Bluetooth
  • NB-IoT


Many factors can influence this decision, from the necessary bandwidth, to existing infrastructure, to security concerns. Letting the application determine the best protocol results in optimal for connectivity solutions, whether operating farming equipment, or shipping supplies, to conflict zones.

For more information, Adam Justice and Cristian Codreanu of Grid Connect provide their expertise in the following article on machinedesign.com. 

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This is your quick and cost-effective entry into condition monitoring

Feb 11, 2022 8:31:04 AM / by Schildknecht AG posted in Cloud services, IIoT, IoT, IoT devices, IoT-enabled, IoT solutions

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Sensors can keep your machines and systems healthy and efficient. Being able to closely and continuously monitor the condition of production equipment in a factory will allow for targeted servicing and maintenance, fewer breakdowns and an increase in overall efficiency. The Schildknecht IoT Ready-To-Use system offers a quick and cost-effective entry into condition monitoring.

 

If you are new to the concept of condition based monitoring, it can be difficult to determine where to start. And what about the costs? And how to avoid turning it into a big and complex project with too many stakeholders?

 

There are many questions to consider before embarking on a condition monitoring project. At Schildknecht, we know how to answer them. Over the years we have built more than 500 proof of concepts together with our customers, and we have learned that you have to be pragmatic and focused to succeed.

 

Based on our experience, we have developed the Schildknecht IoT Ready-To-Use systems. They offer you a quick, easy and cost-effective entry into condition based monitoring, and we recommend a step-by-step approach to deploying them.

 

DataEagle Condition Monitoring System diagram

 

First steps for introducing condition monitoring

A good way to get started is to focus on the weak spots of your factory. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the weakest parts of my production setup?
  • Where do breakdowns occur most frequently?
  • Where do failures have financial consequences?
  • Where do breakdowns have widespread effects, e.g. because several production lines are blocked as a result?

 

Very likely you’ll be able to point out specific pumps, motors, or other equipment that constitute critical weaknesses in need of constant monitoring. This is the place to start.

 

The next step is to determine what you want to measure. The most common values are temperature, vibrations and noise level. However, the IoT Ready-To-Use system enables you to measure much more if necessary. Its CISS multi-sensor for harsh environments contains 8 sensors:

  • accelerometer
  • gyroscope
  • magnetometer
  • digital light sensor
  • pressure sensor
  • microphone
  • thermometer
  • humidity sensor

This versatility allows you to experiment and to adjust the setup along the way, until you have found the best parameters to monitor on your machines and equipment.

 

DataEagle Condition Monitoring System Product Images

 

Start with monitoring one application

To get started, it is important to focus on one application or machine. Don’t think too much about integration or turning this into a multi-functional system. Save that for later. The initial phase is all about focusing and building a strong case around one single application. This also lets you control costs and installation time.

 

From this point on you can adjust and expand your condition monitoring solution easily, as the Schildknecht wireless concept with decentralized sensors and central gateways gives you the flexibility to change your setup along the way.

 

For instance, you might have a number of older machines in your factory, with all the problems that go with them in regards to repair and spare parts. It would make good sense to monitor them closely to ensure maximum uptime and to extend their life span. A non-invasive system like IoT Ready-To-Use ensures easy retrofitting with the least possible installation efforts and disruption to production.

 

Or you can work towards the convergence of your IT and OT infrastructures. As IT and OT move closer together you might want to get a simultaneous overview of both worlds. For this, Schildknecht is partnering with PAESSLER, data from the Schildknecht system can be easily integrated into the PAESSLER PRTG Monitor.

 

Install the condition monitoring system

Getting a condition monitoring system up and running doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming. We have designed our system explicitly with ease-of-use and flexibility in mind.

For instance, no integration is needed, and its multi-sensor has magnets for easy installation. Also, to avoid the hassle of installing extra wiring, the system’s gateway uses radio communication to send monitoring data to a cloud portal.

 

You can mount the multi-sensor directly on the engine or machine. It transmits measurement data via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to the DATAEAGLE 2730 IoT gateway, which is able to receive data from up to 8 sensors simultaneously. The gateway then pre-processes the data and transfers it via wireless 3G/4G to the cloud, where it is stored and ready to be visualized and analyzed via the DATAEAGLE Portal.

 

The DATAEAGLE Cloud Portal provides a ready-to-use dashboard to get an overview of the data coming in from the sensors. At this point you can analyze the data. Depending on the use case, you can set different transmission intervals of the sensor values to the cloud, or you can set alarms for individual sensors.

 

Request a demo

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information about how to get started with condition based monitoring. We invite you to request a demo or a test system – we are looking forward to helping you to a quick, easy and cost-effective entry into condition monitoring.

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Popular Applications for the Internet of Things

Sep 4, 2018 9:16:00 AM / by Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer posted in Internet of Things, Internet of Things Applications, IoT, IoT applications, IoT blogs, Smart City, smart homes, wearables

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There are currently billions of interconnected devices communicating with each other over the internet. These devices are constantly gathering information about their environments, and analyzing the data to help make informed decisions or to automate actions. The Internet of Things (IoT) is made up of a wide-range of devices that can be used for various applications. The applications listed below are only a few of the many possibilities for these devices.

Smart Home

The concept of the smart home has generated a lot of attention for the IoT. Smart home devices can help automate your life at home to make everyday things more convenient. Smart outlets can automatically turn devices on/off, monitor power consumption, and create schedules for devices. Smart thermostats can adjust the temperature automatically, create schedules for the temperature at day and night, and can adjust the temperature when you are home or away. These are just a couple of the devices being designed to help improve the at-home experience.

 

Smart City

The possibilities for smart cities are endless. The IoT can be used to help manage traffic, monitor water distribution, manage energy usage, or even monitor the environment. The implementation of sensors within cities can help alleviate a lot of major problems that cities are facing, as well as help create more environmentally friendly cities.

 

Wearable Technology

Wearable technologies are able to collect information about the user. These technologies are equipped with sensors and software capable of monitoring your body for fitness or health purposes. Devices such as smart watches or smart glasses are currently very popular IoT wearable devices.

 

Energy Management

The IoT has become increasingly popular as a means for monitoring power grids. Smart grids collect information about electricity suppliers, as well as the behavior of consumers. This information is used to improve the efficiency of power grids and to help reduce energy usage. Additionally, these grids can detect power outages quickly, making it easier to get power back when it goes out.

 

Connected Vehicles

The use of interconnected devices in the automation industry is progressing more slowly in comparison to in the other industries listed above. However, many car manufacturers and other technology companies are working hard to develop smart cars and self-driving vehicles. This industry has a lot of potential for growth and will likely take large steps forward in the coming years.

 

These examples only scratch the surface in terms of the capabilities and other potential applications for the IoT. The ability to accurately monitor environments through these connected devices and networks holds a lot of value for many different types of applications. The amount of connect devices is growing more and more every year, which means there will be more innovative solutions coming in the near future.

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Bluetooth in Home Automation and Internet of Things

Aug 14, 2017 1:25:11 PM / by Jonathan Witthoeft posted in Bluetooth, home automation, Internet of Things, IoT, smart home

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Home automation has been on the rise as the cost of integrating wireless communication in devices has dropped significantly. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Apple’s iCloud, and Google’s Cloud have given people the means to remotely monitor and control their homes. However, where does this leave Bluetooth in home automation and the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Bluetooth for Local Access

Bluetooth has not been a stranger to local automation with many devices that we control using it. From wireless speakers to LED light bulbs, many manufacturers provide smartphone apps to control their devices via Bluetooth. The newest Bluetooth specifications have incorporated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which has made smart, battery-powered devices more accessible without having to recharge or change the batteries on a frequent basis. This gives Bluetooth an edge over Wi-Fi, which is a more power hungry technology. Now, you can place home automation products anywhere without being restricted to power outlet locations. No more need for power strips and bulky power supplies when devices can run for months on a single battery. This is great for local home automation, but since Bluetooth cannot connect directly to the Internet, how can we access these devices remotely?

Smart Home Hubs for Remote Access

This is where we introduce the smart home hubs. Recently, the biggest players in IoT have been releasing voice-activated assistants for your home. Apple just announced HomePod which brings the voice control and intelligence of Siri to your home. This is to be compared to Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Google Home. All of these popular home assistants have two things in common: voice control and Bluetooth radios.

Through the appeal and convenience of a voice-controlled home assistant, these companies have placed a Bluetooth-to-Internet gateway in your home. These smart home hubs serve a dual purpose by providing the user with voice control as well as remote access to their Bluetooth smart home devices. Currently the Echo and Google Home can only be used to communicate with the devices already on the cloud with local Bluetooth devices currently needing their own proprietary solutions to relay information to these corresponding clouds. Apple, on the other hand, through the HomeKit protocol, has defined its own standard for IoT inter-device communication. As long as these devices are designed according to HomeKit specifications, a user can access the HomePod, an Apple TV, or an iPad left at home to control local Bluetooth devices remotely. Google Home, on the other hand, has taken the approach of communicating with other proprietary smart home products, but has not yet utilized a standard for smart home devices. Therefore you are limited to a number of specific manufactures if you want compatible smart home accessories.

With the use of in-demand smart home assistants and the wireless power saving advantages of BLE, Bluetooth has an edge over Wi-Fi when it comes to home automation and IoT. Devices can be designed smaller, with greater battery life, and installed virtually anywhere in the home. Imagine Bluetooth sensors for door locks, temperature, lights, windows, motion detection, leak detection, power outlets, blinds, and much more. Bluetooth devices are now accessible from your fingertips anywhere in the world and are truly the future of home automation.

 

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Cloud Services are the Future of the IoT

Dec 26, 2016 1:51:47 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Cloud, data, General, Internet of Things, IoT, smart technology, tech, technology

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By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer

The Internet of Things (IoT) is composed of an assortment of connected devices, but without cloud computing services, these devices wouldn’t have much more functionality than the standard household device. This is due to the fact that the cloud allows devices to outsource the analysis and storage of any data that is collected through their connected sensors. The cloud’s internet-based computing methods act as the brain for IoT devices, removing the boundaries of inter-device, memory and space constrictions.

The IoT is growing at an exponential rate, making cloud services more important than they have ever been before. In order for the cloud infrastructure to accommodate for the mass amount of data being stored and transferred within the cloud, it will need to be developed at a rate similar to IoT technology. The cloud was designed on the very basis of being able to store information remotely, making it the optimum environment for the interconnectivity of internet-enabled devices. If the IoT industry plans to succeed, it is critical that the significance of cloud services is unanimously recognized.

There are many benefits offered by the cloud that would enhance the world of smart technology. The ingenious decision to move the serious data processing functionality of these devices to the cloud has opened the door for further technological advancements. Using the cloud for big data storage and analytics has done two main things that have helped enable the accelerated development of IoT technology. The first thing it does is enable devices to be smaller and use less power, making them much easier to integrate within any home environment. The second is that it makes it possible to continuously update the firmware as needed, which removes the burden from consumers and allows devices to be used for longer periods of time.

The overall accessibility and user-friendliness of IoT devices can be accredited to the power of the cloud. Having devices that every consumer can deploy within their smart homes is definitely a positive for the IoT. That being said, the cloud is able to do so much more for smart technology than simply make it easier for consumers to use devices. Creating a network of devices is entirely dependent upon having a reliable method of communication. The implementation of cloud infrastructure in IoT devices enables the ability to utilize multiple devices in a single network, while communicating simultaneously. Once multiple devices are communicating within the same cloud, the information and data that is collected for individual devices can be accessed by all devices, thus establishing a more synchronized system.

This always available, web-based service is a perfect vehicle for helping the IoT thrive. Current cloud infrastructure isn’t quite large enough to support the expected rise in IoT devices over the next couple of years. That being said, more advanced cloud infrastructures are being developed to help compensate for the influx of connected technology. As the network of devices continue to grow, it will be crucial that the capabilities of the cloud are maintained as it is truly the only technology available that is equipped for storing and analyzing this much data.

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Expediting IoT Growth with Blockchain

Dec 19, 2016 1:33:54 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in blockchain, blockchain technology, General, internet, Internet of Things, IoT, M2M, machine to machine, tech, TechCrunch, technology

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By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer/Marketing

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been developed with a centralized communication model as an integral part of its infrastructure. The cloud acts as the centerpiece for IoT communication, allowing devices to communicate, store and process data, and connect through the internet. However, cloud technology will be unable to sustain the sheer amount of data that is being processed with the growing IoT. Blockchain technology can be used to create a more decentralized communication model, helping alleviate the discrepancies of privacy, communication, and scalability for the IoT.

Cloud technology is great for introducing the power and potential deployments of IoT. In a TechCrunch article, the issues of future cloud applications are captured perfectly when author Ben Dickson states, “cloud servers will remain a bottleneck and point of failure that can disrupt the entire network.” The issue is that IoT ecosystems are expanding at an unprecedented rate; the resources that need to be allocated for maintaining the cloud will not be enough to nurture the growth of this technology. The cloud may be the IoT solution at this point in its development, but the costs and demands of processing that much data will become a nuisance. There needs to be an improved system for handling the heavy traffic of smart technology.

Blockchain technology is the answer the IoT industry has been searching for. Blockchain is a Machine to Machine (M2M) communication platform that enables devices to act as nodes and communicate with each other, removing the stress of storing everything in a central server. This innovative technology can help track and monitor the vast quantities of connected deices, allowing for devices to be able to coordinate their transactions directly with other devices. This can help cut down on the expenses of maintaining the enormous cloud networks and data centers.

One way to further understand the blockchain approach is to examine common network topologies. Utilizing the cloud as the centerpiece for IoT infrastructure is essentially creating a star network configuration. This means that each devices is acting as a node that is connected to a central device. The nodes cannot communicate directly; they can only communicate through the central device. The issue with this is that if there is a single point of failure, particularly the central device, the entire network goes down. Blockchain technology enables the network to resemble more of a mesh network configuration. This essentially means that every node is connected to each other and can communicate without going through a central device. This does create some redundancy within a network, but it this could be a more reliable solution for the IoT.

Decentralizing the communication model of the IoT can be an important step in establishing a reliable network for devices to operate within. The security of the IoT would also be improved due to the fact that there is no central point the information has to go through, removing the possibility of data being intercepted at the central device. Even though this technology is very promising, it does not come without problems. Setting up these networks is much more complex than setting up one that runs through the cloud. Once these networks are setup, there comes the issue of creating them on a scale where billions of devices can communicate directly with each other. The future of this technology is unclear due to these roadblocks, but the potential ability to have a seamless network with M2M communication is ideal for the development of the IoT.

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5 Points to Remember for Engaging Citizens with the Internet of Things

Dec 12, 2016 1:27:51 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Chicago, citizens, city, General, Internet of Things, IoT, residents, Smart City

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When examining the process of the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) within city environments, people often focus on the technical aspects. There are five main themes in order to successfully adopt IoT technology on a large scale. The five themes for an operational IoT include:

  1. Leverage existing physical infrastructure
  2. Engage the local data ecosystem (i.e., partner with local researchers or non-profits)
  3. Employ a clear data management strategy
  4. Address security and privacy concerns with transparency
  5. Turn collected data into action

Despite the importance of the technical aspects of the IoT, it is also important to examine the non-technical aspects because it deals with the consumers that will actually be using the technology. One of the best ways to further advance technical products is by engaging with residents. This allows implementers to gather support for a projects as well as gain insight about how to make a project much more effective. Utilizing residents as a resource for developing the adoption of IoT technology should not be overlooked, regardless of how complex a project may seem. Residents can often provide new information or insight on things that haven’t been considered yet.

There are many ways to go about creating engagement efforts. One example is the Civic User Testing Group (CUTGroup), which is a group consisting of Chicago residents who are paid to test various civic websites and applications. These groups can be used as ways to engage with residents, which can lead to further development of any IoT projects. Civic engagement through groups such as the CUTGroup have allowed for technological improvements and should be seen as a tool rather than a hindrance.

In order for cities to capitalize on the future of the IoT, they will need to value the interaction between implementers and residents. Collecting feedback and information about how residents interact with technology is much more valuable than simply informing residents of how a technology works. This means that residents should not only be informed, but be able to interact with implementers and raise any questions or concerns they have. With technological growth in mind, the non-technical aspects of the IoT are just as important as the technical aspect.

Read the full article: http://www.govtech.com/fs/5-Points-to-Remember-for-Engaging-Citizens-with-the-Internet-of-Things.html

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Sensor modules prove IoT darlings, rounding up billions

Dec 5, 2016 1:22:57 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in General, Internet of Things, IoT, North America, Sensors

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining a lot of traction as the importance of high-tech sensor modules are being focused on as an integral part of smart technology. The funding in these sensors have increased in a manner that is nearly three times larger than in the past decade. This means that more developers and consumers are realizing the limitless potential of sensors and what they mean for the IoT. A lot of devices currently have sensors, but if a device is able to actually act on the data collected through sensors, technology will be substantially more powerful and efficient.

North America is leading the push for sensor innovation, but the investment in other areas around the globe are still increasing in number. Companies like Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and IBM are investing billions of dollars in an effort to further develop sensor technology. It is clear that the future of the IoT is in the hands of sensor modules.

Read more: http://readwrite.com/2016/07/25/now-hear-sensor-modules-draw-4-3b-iot-investment-dt4/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=sumome_share

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Connectivity of the Internet of Things

Nov 28, 2016 1:19:25 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Bluetooth, General, Internet of Things, IoT, network topology, NFC, RFID, smart technology, tech, technology, Thread, Wi-Fi, ZigBee

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When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), connectivity is crucial to keep in mind due to the fact that smart technology is completely reliant upon communication. There are various communication protocols and network infrastructures that can alter the way IoT technology is used as well as its level of operation.

Network topology is important to understand because it changes the way communication protocols are used. The main IoT network topologies consist of Point to Point (P2P), Star, Mesh, and Hybrid. P2P is a link between two endpoints that allow devices to communicate on a dedicated channel. Star network configurations include multiple nodes that connect to a central device; each node can’t directly communicate with each other, only through the central device. These networks are easy to setup but if the central device fails than the network will fail. Mesh networks consist of multiple nodes, each connecting to each other. This can be used for establishing consistent connection but there is a high amount of redundancy. Hybrid networks are simply combinations of different topologies, but they are often very complex and expensive to setup.

The different communication protocols can be utilized in an effort to maximize efficiency and optimize IoT technology for any environment. The common types of communication protocols include Wi-Fi, Thread, ZigBee, Bluetooth, RFID, and NFC.

Wi-Fi: This is an extremely common communication protocol that is essentially everywhere in our lives. Wi-Fi makes it extremely easy to add/remove devices, has a lot of range, and is able to penetrate walls and other obstacles. That being said, there is lower bandwidth due to the lack of wired connection, and Wi-Fi networks are not the most secure. It is perfect for saving power and having quick and efficient communication. Wi-Fi is a star-based network; the communication goes from various wireless nodes to the wireless access point (WAP).

Thread: Thread is a communication protocol that is very reliable, consumes minimum power, and enables machine to machine (M2M) communication. In fact, it was designed for the purpose of connected home applications. The Thread protocol can use three main device types including border routers, sleepy end devices, and routers/router-eligible end devices. It is primarily based on IP, making it extremely simple to connect with other IP-based networks. Unlike Wi-Fi, if a single point goes out, the whole network won’t go down; it supports a full mesh-based topology. It is also a very secure communication protocol. However, it is not very good for DIY consumer installation in homes due to its complexity.

ZigBee: ZigBee is very similar to Thread as it is created by an alliance of several companies in an effort to maximize home and industrial automation. It fulfils the requirements of a mesh network, but can support star and tree topologies as well. The three main devices defined in ZigBee protocol are different than Threads, they include ZigBee coordinator, router, and end device. It is essentially the same thing as Thread, but it does come with some additional features. ZigBee RF4CE was developed to be a universal remote for the smart home, and ZigBee Green Power is a mode that ensure extremely low power consumption. A downside of this protocol is the fact that it has short range and low data speeds.

Bluetooth: Bluetooth utilizes the 2.4GHz spectrum in the ISM band. It is an ad-hoc type of network, thus enabling M2M communications. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is the current type being used within the IoT world, but there are three different branches of Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth Classic is the traditional type of Bluetooth, which has a higher throughput and is primarily used for transmitting files. Bluetooth Smart is essentially the same thing as BLE. It transmits information and was developed for applications with low-duty cycles. It is also important to note that Bluetooth Smart cannot communicate with Bluetooth Classic. Bluetooth SmartReady is the last classification type; these devices are essentially the devices that act as hubs, such as computers and phones. This type of Bluetooth supports both Classic and Smart.

RFID: Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is used as a communication method for being able to identify and track various devices wirelessly. This is an extremely simple communication method that can be used for a wide range of applications. RFID tags are able to read and write information and can be either passive or active. If they are active, they have an on-board power source, giving them more range and the ability to search for a reader. Passive tags don’t have an internal power source but can be activated when touched against a reader. Readers are purely used for receiving information from tags.

NFC: Near-Field Communication (NFC) is a communication protocol similar to RFID, but there are several things that differentiate the two. NFC-enabled devices are able to communicate information from one device to another simply by tapping the two device together. This is particularly useful in smartphone technology because it reduces the amount of time and effort in connecting devices. NFC is an extremely short-range communication method, but it is probably the most power efficient protocol. NFC devices can either be the initiator (the device that starts the communication) or a target (the device that receives information from the initiator).

The IoT is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, making it more important than ever to understand the best applications of various communication protocols. Some of them are designed with the IoT in mind, while others are not. As the technology continues to grow, it is reasonable to expect more efficient uses of existing protocols in addition to more powerful, new protocols.

For more information: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/connectivity-of-the-internet-of-things

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