Critical Overview: IoT Wireless Technology
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a ubiquitous term in the tech world, although, the majority of the non-tech populace remains unaware of their connection with it. IoT technology connects various objects such as electronic devices, vehicles, and more, in a seamless network where information is collected and transmitted among the interconnected devices. By 2027, it is estimated that more than 41 billion IoT devices will exist. The success of IoT projects depends on establishing a credible connection between various devices and the IoT platform. Choosing the right wireless network technology is crucial to the success of IoT projects.
Next-Gen IoT Wireless Technologies to Choose From
This article discusses eight next-generation IoT wireless technologies. Each of these IoT tools and platforms comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and selecting one involves making a calculated trade-off. The technologies will be compared based on power, cost, and battery among other factors.
Cellular technology is well-known, and while it was initially designed for battery-dependent smartphones, newer advancements have made it useful for IoT. However, cell tower connectivity is lacking in areas that need monitoring the most. 5G cellular networks have high-speed mobility, making them suited for video surveillance, transportation, logistics, transfer of medical datasets, and automation. It is projected that by 2024, 1.9 billion 5G Cellular subscriptions will exist.
Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) were developed to tackle cellular connectivity challenges. LPWANs send small packets of data over longer distances than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. LoRaWAN (Long Range Wireless Area Network) is a popular IoT network that uses long-range communication for connection, consumes low power, and has economical chipsets. Moreover, this long-range network offers connectivity services to large and densely populated areas.
WI-FI is prevalent among home environments. However, its lack of coverage and dependence on power and scalability make it a less potent option in the IoT space. Wi-Fi is more suited for connecting home gadgets that can be easily connected to a power source. It is not an appropriate option for industrial IoT connections. Wi-Fi 6 delivers improved bandwidth even in densely populated areas, but it is still in its infancy and would require a revamped infrastructure.
Mesh Networks are dependent on how the components interact with one another. Unlike a star formation topology, where all the nodes communicate with a central hub, mesh networks spread data among each node to reach the gateway. Although they are short-range, mesh networks are solid, reliable, quickly send data over the network, and are easy to install.
Bluetooth and BLE
Bluetooth is a prevalent short-range communication technology designed to transmit data from one point to another or from one point to multiple points between consumer devices. Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) was developed to cater to the specific needs of consumer IoT devices. BLE technology is used mainly in medical wearable devices and is used in connection with smartphones that act as a central hub for sending information to the cloud.
Zigbee And Other Mesh Protocols
Zigbee is similar to Mesh Networks because it is a short-range wireless technology offering network coverage by transmitting sensor data over various nodes. Unlike LPWAN technology, Zigbee offers higher data rates with low-power efficiency. ZigBee and other similar mesh protocols typically work well for short-medium range IoT applications where nodes are closely and evenly distributed. Zigbee is usually not considered for industrial purposes.
LAN / PAN
Local Area Network / Personal Area Network is an economic data transfer network with predominantly unreliable connectivity. For IoT solutions, wireless PAN and LAN are usually used as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi works best in a closed environment and requires a strong signal and proximity to access points
Introduction to RFID Technology
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology utilizes radiofrequency to transmit small amounts of information over short distances. It has proven to be useful in the retail and transportation industries.
Typically, an RFID tag is attached to a product or equipment in logistics, allowing businesses to easily track their asset movements in real-time. This streamlines supply chain and inventory management processes. In the retail sector, RFID tags are primarily used in self-checkout counters and smart shelves.
After learning about the various wireless technologies available for IoT, you should be better equipped to choose the appropriate one for your specific needs. Each use case is unique, and the technology should be selected based on the project’s requirements. Making the right technology choice can greatly impact the overall success of your project.