The Internet of Things (IoT) sounds like a futuristic concept. But it's already happening all around you. Internet-based maps are pulling anonymous data from motorists' cell phones to record real-life driving patterns and provide accurate travel time information. Doctors are using portable monitoring technology to keep track of their patients' health. And it's not unusual for homeowners to control the thermostat, lights, or other home features from their smartphone.
Billions of devices are already linked to the Internet, and the number continues to skyrocket. These connected devices are communicating with each other or a data cloud and providing an unprecedented array of services and information. And there's new applications for IoT being thought up every day. Mouser provides the latest devices from Intel, Freescale Semiconductor, Altera, Nordic Semiconductor, and other leading suppliers to help designers on their way to creating the next intelligent design that further expands the ever-developing IoT.
Featured Article: The Internet of Things Hits Its Stride
The IoT is generating unprecedented opportunities for developing new services, enhancing productivity and efficiency, improving real-time decision making, solving critical problems, and developing new and innovative user experiences. For example, wireless sensors on cattle and other livestock could send a message to a rancher when an animal is pregnant or ill. A wireless heart monitor could let doctors remotely gauge a patient's health. Such intelligent devices and "things" rely on intelligent communications systems and networks that make it easy to send and receive secure data. Another crucial element of the IoT is being able to analyze and interpret the wealth of intelligent data and apply that information to solving problems or providing services.
The Internet of Things means different "smart" services and technologies that will be used in many everyday situations (see above infographic). The technological innovations it offers include miniaturization and advances in packaging technologies, advances in flash, a new class of powerful, yet low-cost and low-power, processors, and an ever-expanding range of cloud-based services.
Name a household appliance, machine, or other thing consumers use regularly -- their car, an insulin pump, a washing machine ... any physical object. These devices when embedded with sensors and microprocessors are gaining the ability to sense their environment and communicate with computers or other intelligent equipment. And these intelligent "things" are sending signals and information without requiring human input. Designers are working to make devices more intelligent but also performing the vital task of ensuring the information is secure and can be reliably filtered and managed.
Wearables: One class of intelligent devices that stands to impact many consumers' daily lives is wearables. Wireless-enabled wearable devices have sensors tracking calorie burn, body mass index, or even sleep levels. Cloud-based wellness programs are interfacing back and forth with wearables, allowing for self-monitoring, management, and data sharing with healthcare providers and others.
Different types of devices comprise different types of networks that can communicate with a variety of applications over the Internet (see above infographic). These applications may have multiple interfaces. These device networks connect with the Internet and then communicate with the applications through a backhaul network. This backhaul network is the communications backbone of the Internet infrastructure.
Medical devices of all kinds are getting smarter and better connected, enabling the transmission of data that can be compiled and analyzed. Doctors can, remotely or in a hospital, leverage that data to make better-informed decisions to direct patient care more quickly and efficiently than ever before. The essential processing technologies are becoming pill-sized to speed this evolution along.
The Internet of Things is allowing for a broad range of new possibilities, including digital locks in which you can grant or restrict access to a door using a few rapid keystrokes on your phone. Smart buildings are another innovation. These fully networked structures let owners and occupants monitor various aspects of a building that determine comfort or energy usage.
Connectivity is critical to unleashing the power of the IoT. Systems of intelligent devices must be connected to each other or to a network to send and receive secure data. Sophisticated cloud-based processing can help facilitate this connectivity but requires a new generation of communications processors that can keep track of connected devices, communicate with them, and translate their functionality into useful services. Gateways and hubs aggregate data from intelligent devices and pass the information across a network.
Data is communicated from smart devices on a local level through Body Area Network (BAN), Personal Area Network (PAN), and Local Area Network (LAN) communications that may adopt a number of current and proposed wireless protocols optimized for a different mix of power use, bandwidth, cost and reliability. Wide Area Networks rely on technologies such as Ethernet or up-and-coming technologies such as the Weightless Standard. Cellular technology also has a role for WAN coverage, but only when available.
The Internet of Things actually comprises at least three layers, each with its own medium and protocols. Specific applications may require considerable local processing in the hubs. The outside layer of this network comprises the things -- physical devices that touch (or almost touch) the real world. These include sensors -- optical, thermal, mechanical, and so on -- measuring the physical states of houses, machines, or people. But this level also includes some complete control systems, such as thermostats, smart appliances, or drone helicopters. The presence of these more complex devices introduces a debate posed by the IoT: What is the actual first level: sensors and actuators, or complete systems?
Numerous communication topologies exist today, from wireless body area network to wide area network and all of the options in between. Many of the companies offering wireless and wired solutions are positioning their products as "the communication engine of choice" for the IoT market. IoT will also add the concept of wireless sensor and actuator networks, which are networks that contain sensing and embedded processing nodes that can control their environment.
Bluetooth® Low Energy is being adopted by the health care industry for portable medical and lifestyle devices. ZigBee® and low-power Wi-Fi® technologies are competing for the industrial control and automation marker. Wi-Fi technologists are already using 802.11ah (Wi-Fi on ISM bands below 1 GHz) to tailor it for infrastructure independent ad-hoc, mesh networking, and longer-range control of sensor networks. There could also be brand-new technologies better suited for certain aspects of IoT communication that displace the existing standards for the IoT.
The enormous volumes of data generated and shared across intelligent devices and systems need to be analyzed, and the value extracted from the information to serve a business's needs. This allows companies to offer better products and services, enabling new business models and enriched consumer experiences.
Smart objects give major industries vital data they need to track inventory, manage machines, increase efficiency, save costs, and possibly even save lives.
STMicroelectronics BlueNRG Bluetooth® Low Energy Wireless Network
Processor is designed to enable longer runtimes and smaller, lighter
batteries in a wide range of wireless "appcessories" such as fitness
wristbands, smart eyewear, or interactive clothes. Compliant with the
latest Bluetooth 4.0 standard, this very low power Bluetooth low energy
(BLE) single-mode network processor features its own radio, processor,
and Bluetooth firmware to simplify the wireless design. The entire
Bluetooth low energy stack runs on the embedded Cortex M0 core. The
non-volatile Flash memory allows on-field stack upgrading. With a peak
current of only 8.2mA in transmit mode at 0dBm and 7.3mA in receiver
mode, BlueNRG offers frugal power management and transitions rapidly
between operating modes thereby minimizing unproductive power thanks to
its best-in-class current consumption. BlueNRG's design enables
applications to meet the tight advisable peak current requirements
imposed with the use of standard coin cell batteries. Ultra low-power
sleep modes and very short transition times between operating modes
allow very low average current consumption, resulting in longer battery
Intel 2nd Generation Galileo Board is the first in a family of Arduino-certified development boards based on Intel® architecture and specifically designed for makers, students, educators, and DIY electronics enthusiasts. Based on the Intel Quark™ SoC X1000, a 32-bit Intel Pentium® processor-class system on a chip (SoC), the genuine Intel processor and native I/O capabilities of the Intel Galileo board (Gen 2) provide a full-featured offering for a wide range of applications. Arduino-Certified and designed to be hardware-, software-, and pin-compatible with a wide range of Arduino Uno R3 shields, and additionally allows users to incorporate Linux firmware calls in their Arduino sketch programming.
Intel's Gateway Solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) are platforms that enable companies to seamlessly interconnect industrial infrastructure devices and secure data flow between devices and the cloud. As of 2020 any end point appliance that does not have GATEWAY FUNCTIONALITY built in (the ability to connect to a provisioning source and catalog data over a network for the purpose of data mining, analytics, and predictive/prescriptive maintenance) will be largely useless. There must be this strategic mindset in every discussion we have with every OEM on every equipment design we're engaged in. If gateway functionality is required, by definition, something equivalent to Intel's IoT Gateway Solutions will be required.
Intel's Quark SoC X1000 Processors are the first product in a new roadmap of innovative, small core products targeted at rapidly growing areas ranging from industrial IoT to wearables. It will bring low power and Intel compute capabilities for thermally constrained, fanless, and headless applications. With its security and manageability features, this SoC is ideally suited for the Internet of Things (IoT) and for the next wave of cost-effective intelligent connected devices. Featuring secure boot, extended lifecycle support, extended temperature and ECC, this processor offers an excellent solution for embedded market segments such as transportation, energy, and commercial and industrial control.
Intel's E3800 Atom Processor family is based on the Silvermont microarchitecture, and utilizes Intel's industry-leading 22nm process technology with 3-D Tri-Gate transistors to deliver significant improvements in computational performance and energy-efficiency in intelligent systems. It is the first system-on-chip (SoC) designed for intelligent systems, delivering outstanding compute, graphical and media performance while operating in an extended range of thermal conditions. Highlights include high I/O connectivity, integrated memory controller, virtualization, Error Correcting Code (ECC), and built-in security capabilities with a thermal design power (TDP) range of 5W to 10W. This product family is ideal for efficient imaging workflows, digital signage with secure content delivery, visually appealing interactive clients (interactive kiosks, intelligent vending, ATM and point-of-sale (POS) terminals, portable medical devices, industrial control systems, and in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems.
Freescale's Kinetis L MCUs combine the exceptional energy-efficiency and ease-of-use of the new ARM® Cortex™-M0+ processor with the performance, peripheral sets, enablement and scalability of the Kinetis 32-bit MCU portfolio. The Kinetis L series frees power-critical designs from 8- and 16-bit MCU limitations by combining excellent dynamic and stop currents with superior processing performance, a broad selection of on-chip flash memory densities and extensive analog, connectivity and HMI peripheral options. Kinetis L series MCUs are also hardware and software compatible with the ARM® Cortex™-M4-based Kinetis K series, providing a scalable migration path to more performance, memory and feature integration.
Freescale P1010 Low-Power Communications Processors expand QorlQ performance into cost- and power-sensitive applications. Based on 45nm technology for low-power implementation, the processors provide performance up to 800MHz and power dissipation as low as 1.1W, along with extensive integration and a rich set of interfaces that target cost-sensitive endpoint applications such as NAs, DVR, small office/home office (SOHO) routing and networked factory automation. The P1010 processor features a trusted architecture platform that helps protect against software intrusion and software cloning by incorporating advanced end-to-end code signing and intrusion prevention. The P1010 processor also integrates multiple FlexCAN controllers, allowing the implementation of industrial protocols in factory automation systems.
The Freescale Semiconductor i.MX 6 Series Processors unleash a scalable multicore platform that includes single-, dual-, and quadcore families based on the ARM® Cortex™-A9 architecture for next-generation consumer, industrial and automotive applications. By combining the power-efficient processing capabilities of the ARM Cortex-A9 architecture with leading edge 3D and 2D graphics, as well as high-definition video, the Freescale Semiconductor i.MX 6 Series Processors provide a new level of multimedia performance to enable an unbounded next generation user experience. Applications include automotive infotainment, e-readers, human-machine interface, tablets, smartbooks, and more.
Freescale's MMA955xL Intelligent Motion-Sensing Platform is a member of Freescale's Xtrinsic family of intelligent sensor platforms. This device incorporates dedicated accelerometer MEMS transducers, signal conditioning, data conversion, and a 32-bit programmable microcontroller. This unique blend transforms Freescale's MMA955xL into an intelligent, high precision, motion-sensing platform able to manage multiple sensor inputs. This device can make system-level decisions required for sophisticated applications such as gesture recognition, pedometer functionality, tilt compensation and calibration, and activity monitoring. Using the master I2C port, the MMA955xL device can manage secondary sensors, such as pressure sensors, magnetometers, or gyroscopes. This allows sensor initialization, calibration, data compensation, and computation functions to be off-loaded from the system application processor. The MMA955xL device also acts as an intelligent sensing hub and a highly configurable decision engine. Total system power consumption is significantly reduced because the application processor stays powered down until absolutely needed.
Texas Instruments CC3000 SimpleLink™ Wi-Fi Module is a self-contained wireless network processor that simplifies the implementation of Internet connectivity. TI's SimpleLink Wi-Fi solution minimizes the software requirements of the host microcontroller (MCU), making it an ideal solution for embedded applications using any low-cost and low-power MCU. TI CC3000 module reduces development time, lowers manufacturing costs, saves board space, eases certification, and minimizes the RF expertise required. This complete platform solution includes software drivers, sample applications, API guide, user documentation, and a world-class support community.
Nordic Semiconductor nRF8002 Bluetooth® Low Energy SoC offers a complete low energy stack along with Proximity, Find Me, and Alert Notification profiles. Nordic Semiconductor nRF8002 Bluetooth® Low Energy is ideal for phone and PC accessories, and can issue alerts if the device goes out of range, enable security measures like screen lock, and give notice of new events like incoming mail, SMS, and calls. nRF8002 embeds a configurable application allowing the use of nRFgo Studio to configure device and I/O behavior. The I/O can interface directly with user input and output devices such as buttons, LEDs, buzzers, or vibration motors.
Microchip Technology MRF24WB0MA and MRF24WB0MB are the first certified embedded Wi-Fi® modules following the ZeroG acquisition. These 2.4GHz Microchip Technology transceiver modules feature extremely low receive currents for longer battery life. The IEEE 802.11 module firmware has an easy-to-use API driver interface to the Microchip free TCP/IP Protocol stack and to Microchip PIC® microcontrollers. The low-power MRF24WB0MA and MRF24WB0MB embedded Wi-Fi modules remove the complexity and cost of developing RF circuitry and obtaining agency certification. The MRF24WB0MA has an integrated PCB antenna, matching circuitry, and supports Wi-Fi with the free TCP/IP protocol stack. The MRF24WB0MA module connects to hundreds of PIC microcontrollers via a 4-wire SPI interface. These Microchip Technology RF transceiver modules are optimized for use in a variety of applications, including utility and smart energy, consumer electronics, industrial controls, remote device management, retail, and medical / fitness / healthcare.