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Why is hardware important to the Internet of Things?

Posted: 22 Oct 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IoT  Internet of Things  hardware  single-board computer  starter kit 

The Internet of Things (IoT) has expanded to multiple end markets with its various potential applications. This has attracted numerous companies, which seek to add sensing, control with wireless connectivity to their existing and new products. By joining the IoT revolution, it is critical to know the right hardware and software approach to help develop and implement the desired functionality.

Speed, ease and reliability of the implementation can define the success or failure of a project or product and its viability and traction in the marketplace.

Considering the IoT enabling products on the market, there are two distinct hardware approaches to implement the capability—these are modular and single board. Many of the huge arrays of products based on these approaches are ably supported by evaluation boards that are designed to speed and simplify implementation.

Software development kits (SDKs)—usually free—provide a set of intuitive development tools that allow the creation, with minimal experience and specialist programming knowledge, of applications.


Watch it grow – the IoT revolution

The IoT is going to be big and impact most people's lives through the connectivity and convenience it brings. The term IoT is already widely known, even if sometimes exactly what it means is not. Recognition and awareness is in the consumer space as well as the technology industry and market. The IoT will not happen overnight, though one day we will all likely wonder how we managed without it—much like the World Wide Web in fact.

Some educated estimates suggest that by 2020 there will be 50 billion IoT nodes worldwide and up to 50 connected devices in a typical home. Where this connectivity and the apps will exist could be in anything from white goods to cars and healthcare equipment to plants and animals. Most of the building blocks to make the IoT a widespread reality already exist, for example: Bluetooth LE, Internet protocols, sensor technologies and advanced electronic components and devices.

The enabler to take the IoT to the predicted levels is combing the elements in open source hardware and supporting cloud platforms. Tools and starter kits are helping to accelerate and simplify this proliferation.

Basic IOT hardware considerations

In common with many other sectors of the electronics industry, hardware solutions for IoT applications are subject to some familiar criteria. They must utilise state-of-the-art technology to achieve small size in order that they can be easily incorporated into designs without impacting aspects such as aesthetics, portability, weight and indeed space for other functionality.

In addition, they must have low power demands—especially as many are used in portable, battery-powered designs where long periods of operation between recharging are essential. The diversity of end applications for the IoT mean that the flexibility of hardware, and indeed software is essential such that performance and functionality can be closely aligned with product needs. Simplicity in terms of design and implementation will help attract systems designers to an IoT approach, as will prove reliability achieved through robust mechanical and electronic design.

From a features point-of-view, a piece of IoT hardware of course needs wireless internet capability, various IO, and industry standard interfaces should also be built-in to facilitate communications, configuration and diagnostics.

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