Industry Insights

Succeed in the Mission-Critical IoT with These 3 Tips

2018-09-17  |  6 min read 

The Internet of Thing (IoT) is changing EVERYTHING. There are literally billions of IoT devices around us today, with hundreds more coming online each second. By 2020, there will be roughly 50 billion connected devices. By 2028, we won’t even need to refer to devices as being part of the IoT ecosystem; it will just be a given.

As part of that evolution, the IoT will evolve from a focus on consumer-based applications like smart appliances for the home, connected clothing, and wearable fitness gadgets, to mission-critical applications for virtually every vertical IoT market there is. Mission-critical IoT devices will be used to automate energy distribution in smart grids, to enable remote machinery and remote surgery, and in autonomous vehicles for things like automatic emergency detection and autonomous vehicle accident prevention. It’s happening already.

As these applications proliferate, what will emerge is a mission-critical ecosystem designed and hardened to withstand the rigors of the real world. It will be able to deliver new functionality and new efficiencies, and it will bring with it many new opportunities for IoT designers and manufacturing engineers alike.

Here’s 3 important tips to help you realize success in the mission-critical IoT.

Understand your requirements

Unlike consumer-based IoT devices, mission-critical devices must work right every time, without fail. After all, a failure in a pacemaker could result in a patient’s death. That’s why mission-critical IoT devices have specialized requirements dictated by the industry in which they will work. Most require rock-solid security, unfailing reliability—even in harsh environments and remote locations—and the ability to operate with little or no human intervention. They also must abide by any applicable industry or government regulations.

Making sure you fully understand the requirements of the product you are designing is the quickest and easiest way to avoid any costly missteps during its development. It also can help improve your confidence that the product will be utilized as intended in the real world.

Don’t overlook these critical considerations

Designing any product is hard. Designing a mission-critical IoT product is even harder! That’s because there are just so many things you have to consider. Here's a couple of things you won't want to overlook:

  1. Battery Life. Many mission-critical IoT devices are not connected to power. They often operate using a single battery for several years without maintenance or battery replacement. To ensure a long battery life, make sure your product’s battery and power management circuit have been optimized.
  2. Signal and Power Integrity Issues. Interference and crosstalk between each of the blocks in an IoT module can degrade performance. Ripple, noise and transients riding on your circuit’s low-voltage rails can do the same. Be sure to identify and eliminate these issues.
  3. Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). In scenarios where large numbers of IoT devices operate simultaneously in close proximity to one other, EMI can be problematic. Be sure to weed out such problems early in the design process when they are easier and cheaper to fix.
  4. Wireless Connectivity. Mission-critical IoT devices have to perform in the presence of multiple users, with different wireless technologies, in the same spectrum. Verifying that your device can handle this load is critical to ensuring robust wireless connectivity.
  5. Coexistence and Interference. With lots of mission-critical IoT devices entering the market, the chance of interference between devices goes up and that can impede the ability of your product to peacefully coexist with others. Making sure your product operates as anticipated in this dense IoT device environments is crucial. 

Choose your tools wisely

While your creativity and skill are essential to a successful product, it's also important to build it on a solid foundation. To ensure your product’s foundation is solid enough to survive the real world, you have to choose the right tools for the right job, and those tools must be accurate, high performance and flexible. There is no universal Swiss Army knife when it comes to designing for the mission-critical IoT.

A battery drain analysis tool can help you accurately optimize your device's battery life, while signal and power integrity tools can help you evaluate high-speed serial interconnect and analyze how effectively power is converted and delivered, respectively. An accurate EMI simulation and modeling tool will allow you to estimate emission levels before hardware is developed. And, to ensure your product can communicate effectively, wireless connectivity and coexistence testing are essential.

There is no denying that the mission-critical IoT is ripe with opportunity and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Whether or not you succeed in this arena will depend heavily on the choices you make. Choose wisely. For more information on making the right choices, go to www.keysight.com/find/missioncriticaliot and www.keysight.com/find/iot