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Embedded systems mark future of IoT

Posted: 28 Oct 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IoT  embedded  sensor  microprocessor 

The embedded system

The core of the IoT operating system is the coming together of the Sensing, Energy, Computing, Communications and Software in a cohesive operating platform. If each remains siloed from the others, it will be impossible to erect the IoT and pursue the vision of a smart society and sustainable world.

Each of these five constituents enables the others. Without sensing, there is nothing we can measure. Without energy, we cannot generate information or power transport. Without computing capabilities, we cannot analyse or do any deductions on the generated data.

Without communications, we cannot engage in interconnectivity. Without the software support, there will be no way to connect things to each other. This in literal terms defines the signal chain for IoT applications, .i.e. "Sense-Compute-Communicate," which then needs to be integrated/embedded smartly together.

At Analog Devices, we are seeing the emergence of game-changing technologies. These include the sensor and sensor node explosion and the associated trend towards solutions that ensure lower energy consumption.


Smart objects use sensors to capture their environment, measuring parameters such as temperature, motion or position. Companies are installing sensors all along the commercial corridor to monitor and track the flow of goods.

Sensors measure the vibrations and material conditions in buildings, bridges, roads and other infrastructure to access the structural health of the built environment and determine when to make needed repairs. The types of sensing nodes needed for IoT vary widely, depending upon the applications involved. MEMS sensors combine many functions in a single housing just a few millimetres in size, making them ideal for IoT applications.

A further key trend is the printing of sensor elements directly onto the surfaces of smart objects based on combinations of different functional materials. These printed electronic components permit the production of low cost, more robust sensors.

Wireless communications

Low-power wireless will play a significant role in providing connectivity for IoT-driven applications. As a result, embedded developers and engineers will increasingly be tasked with adding wireless to their embedded products.

One possible solution—low power sub-GHz wireless. Sub-GHz is a good choice over competing technologies as it offers longer communication range and potentially increased robustness. Typical sub-GHz radio ICs allow multi-band, multi-mode operation across a wide range of data rates and channel bandwidths.

They employ flexible packet management features and MAC layer support, in order to meet the requirements of the proprietary based protocols that are so common in the sub-GHz ISM bands. For the RF Design Engineer, the flexibility of a sub-GHz radio IC can be of great value in developing a product. However, for the Embedded Engineer tasked with utilising sub-GHz wireless in an application, getting started with a sub-GHz radio IC can be a very daunting challenge.

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