Internet of Things World is one of the largest IoT focused conference and expo events. The IoT world 2018 was held in the Santa Clara, USA between May 14 to 17th. This is great event to see the latest trends in this space. The breadth of the IoT ecosystem is truly staggering: From tiny energy harvesting devices from Nikola Labs to fully managed IoT solutions from Google. Here is the link to the conference agenda and the pdf version, if the confernce link disapppears.
Strong Industial IoT Presense
Connected Industrial IoT (IIoT) devices are a rage and IoT world did not disappoint. The roots of IIoT can be traced back to computerization and automation efforts in industries like automotive manufacturing, oil and gas, energy and utilities, mining, etc. Automation, big data, wireless connectivity, and machine learning have accelerated this trend. Itron showcased a level sensor from US3 and a seismic sensor from Omron. The US3 sensor is used for sewer monitoring applications. The complexity (and difficulty) of some of the applications is mind boggling. The Omron D7S sensor is based 3D spectral intensity of the velocity spectrum. This sensor helps to prevent secondary disasters like fire after an earthquake.
|US3 Level Sensor||Omron Seismic Sensor|
Ericson showcased their IoT solutions, made up of the IoT platform and the IoT accelerator. There were variety of sensors and actuators to interface to the physical world, and rich dashboards to displaying data. More complex and colorful dashboard may not solve the fundamental problem of an exponential growth in data. Ericson had a nice augmented reality-based system to overlay sensor and process data on live camera feed from your smartphone. SAP and Oracle also had similar demos to serve contextual data using augmented reality techniques.
What’s new from Nordic Semiconductor?
As usual, Nordic Semiconductor had a strong presence at IoT World. The nRF52480 is one of the few Bluetooth LE SoC’s that have hardware capabilities to support all the BLE 5.0 features. The Bluetooth stack from Nordic has been adding for these features (most features are supported, but not all. Carefully check the release notes for the Softdevices that you will be using). Last year we save demos of audio transfer over Bluetooth LE. This year they had an impressive real-time video transfer demo. There was also a demo of BLE mesh of using Nordic Thingy. Nordic is venturing into LTE-M and NB-IoT areas. The nRF91 SiP is a brand new product supporting LTE-M and NB-IoT protocols.
|Video over BLE||BLE 5 Dongles||LTE-M & NB-IoT|
Ultra-low power wireless devices - No batteries required
While the BOM cost of wireless sensor node has decreased rapidly, the operational cost is still high. Battery replacement is one of the highest service costs for these devices. Increasing the battery-life or eliminating the need for battery is an attractive option for many applications.
Onsemi displayed the new ultra-low power Bluetooth 5.0 SoC, the RSL-10. RSL-10 operates from a supply voltage of 1.1V to 3.3V without a DC/DC converter. This is ideal for applications that depend on energy harvesting. Onsemi had a battery-less wireless switch that extracted energy from the mechanical action of the switch.
|Onsemi RSL-10 Bluetooth 5.0 - Energy harvesting demo|
Nikola labs demonstrated several battery-less sensors. The sensors can harvest energy from specially designed RF transmitters. The sensors (in this LED lights) operated over a range of 6 to 8 feet from the transmitter. The progress in this area is promising.
|Nikola Labs RF powered Electronics|
ST Micro had a large presence at IoT world. The ST25R3911B based NFC demo was impressive. The read range of most NFC devices are less than 3 centimeters. ST25R3911B NFC reader had range of more than 15 centimeters. This range is achieved with appropriate antenna design and beefy 1-Watt antenna drivers. The price of traditional NFC tags has plummeted. New tags are appearing with sensors, e-ink displays and datalogging capabilities. All this, without any batteries.
|ST Micro NFC demo|
Spare the hype!
Some products are great and some are not. This is the IoT World 2017 video of the most useless products according to some of people visited this show. We will update this post if there is a 2018 version!