I have just completed a Europe-wide series of seminars for customers of Future Electronics, discussing the techniques and technologies needed to implement new Internet of Things (IoT) designs.
The seminars have been as enjoyable and rewarding for me as, I hope, they were for our customers. I have learned an enormous amount about the challenges and opportunities facing OEMs as they work to adapt existing, unconnected products for a world of pervasive and cheap internet connectivity.
What has become clear from the 20 seminars, which were hosted by Future Electronics’ specialist Future Connectivity Solutions division in partnership with our suppliers, is that OEMs have now moved into the implementation phase of the IoT revolution. Our industry has spent the past three years talking about the IoT. Finally the focus has shifted to from talking to making.
This is driven by three trends. The first is a general reduction in the cost of IoT implementation. Semiconductor technology enables products to continually become smaller, faster and more power-efficient, so OEMs benefit from the lower cost of key components such as microcontrollers and RF transceivers. But improvements in energy efficiency also enable, for instance, the use of smaller, cheaper batteries, sensors and thermal management components. At a system level, therefore, it costs less to build an IoT device than it did three years ago.
The second trend is the maturing of the cloud services market. For the vision of the IoT to be realised, OEMs need a way to process, analyse and display to users the streams of data generated by end nodes such as sensors. Where once OEMs’ choice was limited to the general cloud offering from giant suppliers such as Amazon Web Services, now the market is providing much more useful application or market-specific cloud services. The software platform needed by dairy farmers, for instance,
is totally different from that required by street lighting operators.
The availability of cloud services optimised for specific applications makes IoT implementation much more attractive for OEMs.
And the third trend is the growth of development ecosystems into which OEMs can tap. Our ‘SWSN’ seminar series was a clear demonstration of the multi-disciplinary nature of IoT device development. We covered the topics of Security, Wireless connectivity, Sensors and Node power (hence SWSN): I learned that many OEMs feel confident in their ability to design-in one or perhaps two of these domains, but very few feel confident in all four. So the development of IoT devices requires OEMs to draw on the services of third parties that have expertise in the domains that they do not.
And this is why Future Connectivity Solutions is an ideal partner for any OEM implementing an IoT design today. Through our relationships and partnerships with every type of component and module vendor, with design houses and consultants, with electronics manufacturing services companies and with cloud service providers, we can help customers to commission a complete ecosystem to enable them to get to market quickly and with a minimum of risk.
For those who want to be makers rather than talkers, this promises to be a highly valuable proposition.
If you would like to know more about the SWSN theme, request the seminar information package from Future Connectivity Solutions by e-mailing: