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The Internet of Things Will Emerge in 2014

The Internet of Things (IoT) will bring union among sensors, end points, the cloud, and the network. These products, as parts of the overall system, provide a unique view into processes, machines, automation, and consumer activities and allow more convenient access and usage of the Internet.

Sixty-four-bit processors are now being integrated into smartphones. MediaTek has an 8-core application processor with an ARM Mali quad-core graphics processor. These types of processor innovations into the smartphone will foster the integration of power management components and other analog functions as AFEs with sensor integration.

Freescale has embarked on the IoT with ARM Cortex ICs for such applications as appliances (white goods), security systems, and smart thermostats. The microprocessor can communicate with devices via Bluetooth, Zigbee, or 802.11 with embedded communications for industrial applications.

Here's a practical example of such communications used in the transportation sector: A bridge can be equipped with temperature sensors on or next to its surface. Pressure sensors (usually strain-gauges) can be embedded in the concrete or attached to structural members (girders, beams, and trusses). During inclement weather (especially in the wintertime), the sensors can communicate weather-related changes. Snow and ice conditions can be easily detected; road warning signs can be activated to notify drivers.

Beyond just these wintertime road surface conditions, structural status of bridges can be sent to a central location. Tragedies such as the I-35W bridge collapse in Minnesota could be averted.

An example of how lots of functionality can be integrated into an IC (for applications similar to the above temperature example) is a recent device from Maxim Integrated (this site's sponsor). The device, the MAX31855, is a mixed signal IC. It has provisions for and contains sensor excitation, signal conditioning, cold-junction compensation, ADC, fault detection, and protective devices all integrated into a single package.

Features of this level of integration are many and varied. Look for improvements in connectivity, decision-making capabilities, productivity, and analytics (that can result in improved safety). Also, expect to see improvements in existing infrastructure and machines by making them smarter.

Your smartphone will be a key component in the IoT since it stores a tremendous amount of data about your activities, preferences (likes ), and behavior. For example, something we are just now starting to see: control of digital ads (signs) across a network, which can change information displayed according to demographics of the nearby audience.

2014 will bring more new solutions to enhance our experiences, tighten our focus on our needs, and improve our products and systems. It will be exciting to see a strong effort and progression in this area by semiconductor companies. What are you looking forward to in integrated analog technology in 2014?

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42 comments on “The Internet of Things Will Emerge in 2014

  1. eafpres
    December 27, 2013

    Hi Steve–I think you know I'm a proponent that analog integration to sensors is a fruitful opportunity for IC companies.  I'm also aware that much of the IoT has quietly arrived and is functioning in many industrial settings.  It is just the mass marketing that is behind the times.

    Consider a future (for us) state: every sensor you can imagine comes fully integrated with all the analog and passive circuitry to condition and amplify raw sensor output such that every sensor has an identical standard output .

    Once that is true, IoT integration becomes simply a component selection exercise–who's wireless solution do you choose, and whose sensor package do you interface to it; and what sensors do you want to offer as a package?

     

  2. samicksha
    December 27, 2013

    Not exactly but first example of IoT i see working today is my STB wherein i can record a movie in my STB through SMS. Also one of the challenge i see in way is  huge number of different links and interactions between autonomous systems.

  3. Victor Lorenzo
    December 27, 2013

    @Blane, I agree with you on “every sensor has an identical standard output “. When automating some manufacturing processes I've had to struggle interfacing several different kinds of sensors and servo motor controllers to the PLC.

    Making sensors capable of directly interfacing to current communication networks and providing one standardized packet/information structure will represent a step forward for current and future industrial automation systems interoperability.

  4. Steve Taranovich
    December 27, 2013

    This is such an exciting area Blaine—I can't wait to see what comes next.

  5. Victor Lorenzo
    December 27, 2013

    If it's not too much to ask… an ultra low power device based on cortex M0+ arm core, able of being directly powered from a 1.5 battery or one sigle coin cell, with sub-1GHz bidirectional radio interface, power management interface for energy harvesting, 2 multiplexed inputs 10 ENOB ADC, PGA with configurable x1-x5-x10 gains, hardware FIR/IIR filter accelerator capable of working with minimum CPU intervention, 10 I/O pins with 50mA open drain capability and integrated protection diode, 16K/32K ram and 128K flash divided in 32K blocks with independend clock and power enable, low power LCD interface and, why not, DES/AES/RSA crypto accelerator… all of that inside one 5x5mm QFN32 package.

    Oh, I see, it's too much, maybe for 2015.

  6. Victor Lorenzo
    December 27, 2013

    …and a (non hobby) project for starting working with it.

  7. Steve Taranovich
    December 27, 2013

    An engineers dream! I'm sure it's coming soon

  8. fasmicro
    December 27, 2013

    >> It is just the mass marketing that is behind the times.

    The design is done, but the marketing has not been successful owing to pricing issues. I may not see the reason to change my microwave with one that cost $40 more just for me to use mobile apps to shut it down. I do not see real benefits in some of these innovations. But we will see.

  9. fasmicro
    December 27, 2013

    >> Also one of the challenge i see in way is  huge number of different links and interactions between autonomous systems.

    Are these systems autonomous? In what sense?

  10. fasmicro
    December 27, 2013

    @ Victor, that has been the wish right from the old IBM PS/2 mouse when they went with a different specification. My suggestion has been, let the biggest player allow others to use their standards to build upon. However, the smaller guys need to claim some elements of innovations by saying their standards improve on what is already there. Hence, the vicious circle we experience in this game.

  11. goafrit2
    December 27, 2013

    >> hardware FIR/IIR filter accelerator

    I do not see the reason why that cannot be done in 2014. The question is this: will it be done price-efficient enough for market success. We have these innovations that do nothing but announce a company to the world but products are not sold as they are very expensive. 

  12. goafrit2
    December 27, 2013

    It is important you include the IP. Some of those interconnects and interfaces are patented. If you just pick them, you may expose yourself to some liabilities. The only way is to have industry consortium that sets standards. Unfortunately, those consortia are reactive as the industry always exists before them which means the products are already in the market. Just imagine one for mobile OS development and you wonder what they can achieve.

  13. eafpres
    December 28, 2013

    An interesting branch of this fast-growing IoT tree is populated by a company called Eye-Fi, which has packaged WiFi radio + antenna into an SD memory card (which also has the memory).  They are targeting the higher-end digital camera market, much of which is still not internet enabled.  Cabe Atwell over at Design News wrote a nice article on their products.  I understand why they are using WiFi–it is an interface that is available on most portable devices plus on most home networked PCs.  Although their price point is way too high for mass adoption, it is impressive they could package all this into an SD card.  That hints at what might be possible if there were widespread adoption of Zigbee, for instance.  In the consumer markets, Zigbee routers are popping up, such as with the Philips HUE product, and an interesting startup on Indegogo called Webee.  If we consider a potential that Zigbee could become the mainstream IoT protocol, then the full integration with sensor packages will benefit from cost downs driven off of consumer market voumes.

  14. Victor Lorenzo
    December 29, 2013

    I agree in that WiFi SD Cards are still too expensive. In my oppinion it is certainly an innovatie product in terms of integration, but with limited market impact.

    Transcend has also one WiFi enabled SD Card running Linux inside. It's internals have been partialy disclosed (OLED Display and Internet Status on Transcend WiFi with Motherboard, AVR Communicating with Transcend WiFi SD).

  15. Victor Lorenzo
    December 29, 2013

    WiFi, Zigbee, BTLE, RFLinks@Sub1GHz, all of them may find an application in the IoT net. I think its always a compromise on two or more factors like power consumption and source, range, bit rate, flash/rom requirements for the communication stacks, packets size and so on. I share your optimism about Zigbee, it is well suited for many IoT, sensor networks and home automation applications.

  16. Netcrawl
    December 29, 2013

    @victor I agree with you it still an expensive tech stuff, well it still need to gain adoption to survive in the market. I think there secveral competing technologies in this area, we got cellular, WiFi, and a host of solutionj based on IEEE 802 standards, cellular still the most widely used, it works well for many applications but have somes erious issues- it have a high energy cost per packet and there's an interference problem, cellular can't make it way out in  a heavily obstructured structure. WiFi is a popular stuff and widely available, energy cost for a WiFi packet is much lower than cellular.

  17. Netcrawl
    December 29, 2013

    @Fasmicro good point! I agree with you I think the first step in getting into IoT is converting our networks on proprietary protocols to IP-based networks, this may requitres some partnerships and collaborations because we need to address some key issues such as interoperability and security, this is very imporatant because the networks plays a crucial role as the connectivity platform and the heart for control and operational systems, it must provide secure infratsructures for various conections from the cloud to mobile devices.

    For a small players I think it a good start, they must recognize the need for continual technology development or upgrades to survive in the market, for big players they need to work with partners to grow and develop more, partnering is not just about collaboration, its also about competition,  alerting you about possible innovation that might occur elsewhere.   

  18. SunitaT
    December 31, 2013

    Your smartphone will be a key component in the IoT since it stores a tremendous amount of data about your activities, preferences (likes), and behavior.

    @Steve, thanks for the post. I totally agree with you that smartphone will be a key component in the IoT. I think we will see new apps which will help the end users to use their mobile as an interface to IoT.

  19. SunitaT
    December 31, 2013

    It is important you include the IP. Some of those interconnects and interfaces are patented. If you just pick them, you may expose yourself to some liabilities.

    @goafrit2, I agree with you. I think its better to pay royalty on the patent rather than paying huge fine later. 

  20. SunitaT
    December 31, 2013

    Although their price point is way too high for mass adoption, it is impressive they could package all this into an SD card.

    @eafpres, I think the price of the new products is always high. But once we get lot of competition from other players price automatically starts reducing because of competition. I am sure this product will become popular among professional photographers.

  21. SunitaT
    December 31, 2013

     In my oppinion it is certainly an innovatie product in terms of integration, but with limited market impact.

    @Victor, since the price of product is too high people are hesitant to try this product. But once the cost of the product reduces then I am sure more and more people will adopt this because its very useful feature.

  22. SunitaT
    December 31, 2013

    providing one standardized packet/information structure will represent a step forward for current and future industrial automation systems interoperability.

    @Victor, I agree with you. I am curious to know if efforts to standardize has already started. How soon will we see guidelines for standardization.

  23. goafrit2
    January 2, 2014

    >> They are targeting the higher-end digital camera market, much of which is still not internet enabled.

    The most troubling aspect of the IoT is the fact that most of these systems are not secured. Just drive around time and see how porous networks are. Some are open. There are college students that install these cameras without releasing that the images are not encryted or secured. Anyone can see it.  For us to have deeper penetration, security must be part of the game.

  24. goafrit2
    January 2, 2014

    >> In my oppinion it is certainly an innovatie product in terms of integration, but with limited market impact.

    Certainly Apple has changed the way we use the word “Innovation”. Technically, a product that has not generated enough market success cannot be “innovative” irrespective of the engineering quality. Innovation = Invention + Market Success. So, we can have really breakthrough products but unless the market likes it, it cannot be innovative. Innovation demands engineering, pricing, ergonomics etc all mixed together.

  25. fasmicro
    January 2, 2014

    @Victor I share your optimism about Zigbee, it is well suited for many IoT, sensor networks and home automation applications.

    Sure, Zigbee is evolving as the product that will lead this revolution. They still need to work on their security elements for some security conscious designers to adopt them. It is  a crowded environment and some companies may like to develop their own “standards” but largely anyone that goes open source with their hardware integration can see higher adoption in the community. There is a new kind of democracy in engineering design which is important.

  26. fasmicro
    January 2, 2014

    @Netcrawl >> it must provide secure infratsructures for various conections from the cloud to mobile devices.

    Some players have noted tha we may not need to worry so much about security if we want to make these products highly adopted. In other words, for some consumer sectors, we allow them to be midly secured thereby enabling interoperability unless securing it will not affect the latter. For the enterprise or some sensitive projects, security could be an issue. It does make sense as in this age of Facebook where people are rushing to broadcast their lives to the public, over-ambitious security that degrades usability may not  be a winner.

  27. fasmicro
    January 2, 2014

    >> I think we will see new apps which will help the end users to use their mobile as an interface to IoT.

    Think of the smartphone as the central core architecture of the IoT revolution. It is your server, you controller and anything that needs to be in order to syncrhonize and coordinate the devices at home. In coming years, the smart watch will take over that job as we continue to miniaturize.

  28. fasmicro
    January 2, 2014

    >>I think the price of the new products is always high. But once we get lot of competition from other players price automatically starts reducing because of competition.

    If the competitors can make a decent competing product. Having competitors in a market that cannot provide substitutes may not help in any way. Think about it – Apple is still eating the profits of the smartphone word despite the avalanche of competitors.

  29. PCR
    January 26, 2014

    Fasmicro I also do agree with you on this, some innovation is good for the future market potential in order to give more value for the price that the customer pay, to be a competitive enough. 

  30. PCR
    January 26, 2014

    Victor you are right I also believe that the innovation should be affordable to the public otherwise it will be just a innovation which limited to the showcase otherwise it will be competitively cheaper to use the existing tech. 

  31. PCR
    January 26, 2014

    Yes SunitaT I also agree with you on this, now a day the number of internet users has gone up than ever, main reason for this is definitely a smart phones. 

  32. PCR
    January 26, 2014

    True SunitaT, as a human we also should thank to the innovator. I believe that the best thing that we can do is obey the patent rather than violating it. 

  33. PCR
    January 26, 2014

    Market skimming pricing is the first pricing strategy in totally new products. Cause that there are customer segment which will try the product and like to own the product when launch who are the early adopters. 

  34. amrutah
    January 26, 2014

    @Ranasinghe:

    There are many applications possible due to the availability of network (internet) and devices like smartphones, tablets.  The era of devices like google glasses, smart watches will provide another set of IoE applications.  There is a Cisco paper describing how the innovtion is driving this to a little extent.

  35. yalanand
    January 31, 2014

    Certainly Apple has changed the way we use the word “Innovation”. Technically, a product that has not generated enough market success cannot be “innovative” irrespective of the engineering quality. Innovation = Invention + Market Success.

    @goafrit2, I think innovation doesn't depend on market success. Market success makes innovation, successful innovation.

  36. yalanand
    January 31, 2014

    The era of devices like google glasses, smart watches will provide another set of IoE applications. 

    @amrutah, I agree with you. Wearable technology is going to be the next big thing. Wearable technology along with “Internet of things” will create lot of new application and possibilities.

  37. Davidled
    February 3, 2014

    As smartphone has a tremendous data, integrated circuit should be implemented to protect theprivacy data. It could be challenged for analog designer to design the circuit to keep the data in the memory. For example Password scheme of smartphone could be improved to prevent access it fro, hacker.  

  38. goafrit2
    February 9, 2014

    Victor you are right I also believe that the innovation should be affordable to the public otherwise it will be just a innovation

    Technically, a product cannot be considerred to be innovative without great market success. Until a product has a great market success, you can say that it is an invention.

  39. goafrit2
    February 9, 2014

    Yes SunitaT I also agree with you on this, now a day the number of internet users has gone up than ever, main reason for this is definitely a smart phones. 

    It goes beyond smartphone, think of any electronics on earth from pacemaker to toothbrush. Once it has an IP, it is on the network

  40. goafrit2
    February 9, 2014

    I think innovation doesn't depend on market success. Market success makes innovation, successful innovation.

    How? How can you prove something is innovative when no one has bought it?

  41. goafrit2
    February 9, 2014

    For example Password scheme of smartphone could be improved to prevent access it fro, hacker.  

    We will be phasing password within 5 years in my prediction. Biometrics will do that. Except Apple to develop a universal way to enable you to login into any website when has been prior-validated. I do not see a need for password in devices which is physically within my proximity.

  42. fasmicro
    March 3, 2014

    >> Fasmicro I also do agree with you on this, some innovation is good for the future market potential in order to give more value for the price

    Generally, you count on innovation when market has bought an item and not just when it is created. The latter is nothig but invention. Price is a key element of innovation.

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