More than 200 billion devices will be connected to the cloud and each other in the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020 as per Gartner Report. In our view, 2016 was the year IoT gained legitimacy. Businesses moved beyond a “start small think big” mindset. IoT is destined to expand rapidly over the coming years and this convergence will unleash a new dimension of connected services that improve the quality of life of consumers and productivity of enterprises.
How enterprises roll-out a complete IoT ecosystem?
Following are the critical components for launching a complete IoT ecosystem:
IoT Gateway: One of the most critical components of future Internet of Things systems is a device known as an “IoT gateway.” The importance of IoT gateways is understandable when you consider the use case of an IoT-connected environment. An IoT gateway aggregates sensor data, translates between sensor protocols, processes sensor data before sending it onward and more.
IoT Network: Manufacturers and Operators of smart commercial buildings and smart industrial environments deploying massive mesh networks need to be able to commission, control and monitor thousands of end nodes. The network security, flexibility, interoperability, scaling, and robustness are critical to Large Nodes Network (LNN) commercial success.
IoT Devices: IoT End devices are spread over a vast medium, there may be hundreds or thousands of sensors with dozens of different functions, measuring temperature, light, noise, the position of people and equipment, particles in the air, building systems operations, security systems, factory machines and more. More often than not, these IoT devices are very low powered, battery operated, sleepy end devices with one or multiple sensors attached to it. At the same time, they need to be part of the LNN and be responding fast enough for any changes in the sensor readings or any control required from the user or analytics running on the cloud.
Cloud and Mobility: IoT is not just about sensing, it’s also about controlling systems. All the data need to go to the cloud, running IoT services using secure protocols and running communication broker service, database service, rules engine, and data analytics services on top of data visualization platform. Mobile applications will be useful for enabling end users to control the end devices e.g.turning lights on and off, HVAC, network dashboard/status monitoring etc.
In summary, choosing the right IoT platform built and supported by an expert ecosystem of hardware and cloud technology partners are crucial in successfully embracing the IoT wave. Starting from a large number of end devices with sensors connected wirelessly to IoT gateways, in turn, connected to cellular or Wi-Fi networks, connecting it to a variety of cloud platforms (PaaS), connecting to mobile applications of end users, the whole ecosystem needs to work efficiently, securely and with the scale to support large LNNs.
Key IoT Challenges
As we walk through the journey of realizing the new reality of connected devices and services, it comes with its own set of challenges for the transformation and makes it real, affordable and scalable solution for many legacy products.
- Identifying the best suitable IoT connectivity option: Each IoT device may use different protocols to connect — such as Bluetooth, ZigBee, Thread, LoRA, Sigfox and other proprietary RF protocols for IoT Gateway connectivity and Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Cellular for north-bound connectivity through IoT Gateway towards the cloud. Each of them may connect to different control environments and have different models for management and security. Due to such diverse RF network intercommunication choices and options available, choosing the right platform for the solution is one of the major challenges.
- Achieving reduced cost of ownership and faster time to market: As always, product manufacturers and operators would want to make sure that their IoT strategy will work for the market they serve and it will be available as a cost-optimized solution and will the right fit for the features they want to promote the product. At the same time, they also want to hit the market as early as possible. The biggest question or concern for them is what is the right platform, technology, sensors and how the complete end-to-end solution will look like including the cloud selection, hosted PaaS solution or SaaS solution, mobile application etc. and what is going be my CAPEX and OPEX in supporting it over a period of time.
- Complete ownership of the solution and technical support: Last but not the least, product manufacturers and providers will want to have a complete control over the product and good professional support from the supplier, in case they need to enhance it further or diversify into other markets. This means that they will want to own up the design and want to have support model such that they get prompt and effective support whenever they require.
How does VOLANSYS’ Modular IoT Gateway Platform help?
Built on a fully supported, open-source Linux platform running on the latest i.MX processor, VOLANSYS’ Modular IoT Gateway Solution for large node networks (LNNs) comes with pre-integrated, tested and RF certified support for a wide array of wireless communications protocols including Thread, ZigBee, BLE, and Wi-Fi. This range of capability allows developers to easily build out gateways based on this solution, using their choice of wireless protocols for end-to-end wireless communications in LNN configurations with supporting cloud options such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Watson, Google IoT etc.
VOLANSYS’ Modular IoT Gateway reference design includes critical building blocks for quick customization and application deployment including production ready hardware, schematics, bill of materials and fully documented software. Designers can evaluate, develop, prototype, iterate, field test, install and maintain LNNs for commercial settings starting with the Modular IoT Gateway Solutions platform. With Modular IoT Gateway, it’s possible to develop secure and connected applications within months, without the need to hire a team of connectivity and security experts.
The Modular IoT Gateway Solution also addresses stringent network security requirements to protect the user and system data through encrypted wireless communications which prevent unauthorized access, as well as an interception, man-in-the-middle and replay attacks.
The modular gateway provides an edge to other IoT gateways available in the market in the sense that it is fully supported and based on open source Linux platform and all critical building blocks available with schematics and bill of materials and fully documented software. Hence once the IP licensing agreement is done, the user will have all the details needed to build and use this platform to realize their IoT strategy and solutions. This is a major differentiator compared to other IoT gateways available in the market today. On top of it, the modular architecture allows this platform a lot more edge and versatility compared to other Gateway solutions.
What’s the cost of ownership and time to market?
Let’s take an example. One of the leading commercial lighting solution providers, looking to enable their IoT strategy to scale up, build new features and enable building new connected lighting solutions for smart cities, chooses to use modular gateway platform, first for proof of concept and then for making a custom design.
Proof of concept in 3 weeks: VOLANSYS helps this customer to first understand the concept and their connected strategy and further helps them with building a proof of concept for the same using Thread-enabled end devices integrated to their lighting fixtures and build end to end demo using Modular Gateway solution all within the span of around 3 weeks. The customer is able to use this for field trials and early demos of this product concept.
Custom design in 12 weeks, Certification in 6 Weeks: After successfully completing the proof of concept phase, the customer wants to go for custom built chip down version of Gateway solution. VOLANSYS engages with the customer to design and develop the custom solution in around 12 weeks of timeframe and helps with pre-certification and formal certification of the product in another 6-8 weeks of the timeline.
The cost of ownership 60-70k USD, Landed cost USD sub-50s: The customer spends around USD 60-70K including design, development, NRE and certification cost and is ready to launch the custom Gateway solution within 6 months and landed cost of the custom Gateway around USD sub-50s at a volume of 10,000 units.
If the customer was to design and develop this custom solution on its own, without leveraging the Modular Gateway design, it would have easily cost him at least USD 250K of design, development, NRE & certification cost and took him 1.5+ years to get to a point where the product is ready for launch. Hence the modular gateway reference design allowed him to cut time to market more than half and reduce the design, development cost by a factor of 3, which is substantial.
Here is the summary of benefits:
|Option||Proof of Concept||Design and Development||Certification||Cost of Ownership||Landed Cost per unit||Ready to launch|
|Using VOLANSYS Modular Gateway||3 Weeks||12 Weeks||6 Weeks with final certification||60k USD||Sub 50s||Within 24 Weeks|
|Custom Design||Minimum 12 Weeks||Minimum 30 Weeks||8-10 Weeks with pre-compliance||250k USD||Sub 60s||Minimum 60+ Weeks|
For more details on VOLANSYS’ Modular Gateway Reference Design, please visit Modular IoT Gateway
VOLANSYS offers varied services to meet the challenges of M2M / IoT solution development. Our solutions promise to bring a number of benefits in the optimization and management of home utilities, public services, such as parking, lighting, maintenance of public areas, preservation of cultural heritage, surveillance, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, and others. With vast knowledge and experience in product engineering, we can serve all your needs.
To know more drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +1 510 358 4310.
About Author: Harikrushna Sheth
Harikrushna Sheth works with VOLANSYS Technologies as a Sr. Program Manager and looks after all the IoT projects. He also serves multiple customers in IoT domain from product idea to realization.