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Choosing right to Connectivity Technology for your IOT Product?

Are you building an Hardware / IOT Product?

Right from simple connected thermometer to complex home automation system or automotive system, it may require to have communication technology like NFC, or BLE, or cellular network.

Choosing a right network technology could be a daunting task. There are multiple factors affect decision making like : Is this device running on battery power?

It it going to be indoor or outdoor or wearable?

What is environment like? and many more.....

In this blog we'll focus on power consumption and low power networks :

2019 Year in Review

Battery Life

Today, we have different technologies that enable us to communicate like phone calls, Voice calls over internet(VoIP), video calls, messaging platforms like whatsapp, WeChat etc using our phone.However, we don't realise that we have to charge our phone every single day, because these networks take huge amount of power(mA, yes mA is huge when we have 1500 to 2500 mAH battery).

When it comes to Internet of Things products, every nA (nano ampere) or uA(micro ampere) counts!

Consider a situation, where you want to track geolocation of your pet. Will you be comfortable if you need to charge this tracker battery every single day or alternate day? Absolutely NOT, you expect it to work at-least few months if not years.

We’ll explore the different options available for us and parameters affecting our decision selecting right network technology for your IOT Product.

Device Types

No active connection

FOr these devices there is no active connection is required, but it uses passive communication like passive NFC. Your device may not require any active connection but requires data to be read from device NFC could be used for this.Consider your credit card with chip or e-passport.

  • Battery: May not need battery.
  • Security : comparatively loose security, Easy to crack, to secure it do not lose the physical device.

Broadcaster with Certain interval

This is like fire and forget way, device keep broadcasting certain info at fixed interval

It's receiver's job to catch the packet decode it if encoded and update to cloud or server.

Apple AirTags, tile tracker, amazon sidewalk are established products using this method.

These can be used to located your keys, lost items.To make it work, it needs gateway to send data or should have dense network of receivers that will send data to respective server (e.g. apple network)

  • Technologies : generally BLE, may use Zigbee.
  • Battery life : supposed to be in half year to years
  • Security : May encrypt message broadcasted however it limits compatibility.

Active connection with Gateway

These devices needs to be connected to gateway, may allow only authosized devices to connect.

Widely used in medical and commercial space, advantage is battery life of device with smaller form factor can be implemented and use BLE to send data to gateway.

Examples : Smart Locks.

  • Medical Sensors: like heart rate monitors, temp monitors
  • Smart watches: like Garmin, Apple, Fitbit, Samsung etc connects to your mobile and mobile acts as a gateway.
  • Battery Life : In hours or DaysTechnologies : BLE, Zigbee, LoRA.Security : high security can be implemented, including AES-128 bit.
  • Recommendations : AWS IOT, AWS FreeRTOS, AWS GreenGrass

Active connection to Cloud

These device needs active connection to cloud and required to provide data realtime.Widely used in Logistics, Marine, Industrial Automation

Examples : Water Meters, Gas Meters

  • Asset Trackers : like pet trackers, vehicle trakers, generally used in trasportation, marine etc.
  • Industrial Automation : Manufacturing,Battery Life : In hours or Days, may not be powered by battery.
  • Techonologies : SIGFOX, Cellular - NBIOT, 5G, Wifi
  • Security : security at rest as well as in transport can be implemented, highly secure.
  • Recommendations : AWS IOT, AWS FreeRTOS, AWS GreenGrass, AWS Sitewise

Major Factors to consider

Range

It means how long you need to send and receive data. The transmit and receive range means the distance between transmitter and receiver. It can be in centi-meter (cm) to few Kilo-meters(KM), NFC range is 10cm, whereas, LoRA can go up to 10KM.

Frequency

It means at what rate you need to send data.Frequency can be in few KHz to GHz.Lower the frequency, lower the bit rate, lower the power needed.

Data rate

It means how fast you need to send data.It can be few bytes per second to Kbps, Mbps, Gbps. Higher the data rate higher the power consumption.

Topology / Protocols

Broadcast :

fire and forget

  • Peer to Peer : send data from one endpoint to another.
  • Mesh : there are endpoint device nodes and repeaters to forward data

Conclusion

There is no one network technology fits all requirements, it depends on different factors as we discussed.We hope this has been valuation inputs in your IOT Product development Journey.

Do you think Delighteck can help you in your IOT product development? Let's talk!