Exploring Wireless Connectivity Trends in Industrial IoT
Five Questions for Mattias Lange, General Manager of Connectivity at Texas Instruments
Wireless connectivity is a key IoT building block and an enabler of technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. In industrial contexts, the demand and requirements for wireless communications have drastically evolved in recent years as new technologies pave the way to previously unseen possibilities. This week, Mattias Lange, General Manager of Connectivity at Texas Instruments shares with us an insider’s view on the latest developments in IoT and industrial wireless connectivity and what that means to businesses.
1. Tell us about Texas Instruments. What is your focus and vision in the IoT space?
More than a decade ago, before the Internet of Things (IoT) became a buzzword, TI had a simple idea: make it easier for developers to add radio technologies such as Wi-Fi®, Ethernet, Sub-1 GHz, Bluetooth® Low Energy, Thread and Zigbee, to their embedded applications and have them work together seamlessly. The prospect was mind-blowing. Wireless connectivity would open doors for developers, allowing them to collect data and provide an unlimited range of new services.
Today, thousands of companies use a variety of connectivity standards as the foundation for their connected devices. Still, as I travel to meet with developers around the world, I hear a common question: Is the IoT trend really taking off as it should?
The fact is people expect electronic devices to have wireless capabilities. Announcements of large IoT investments are made daily. As companies in more traditional, established spaces like metering and manufacturing become more automated, they are building IoT strategies and overlaying connectivity to modernize and streamline their operations.
As often happens when transformational changes occur, there is an expectation that they will happen faster than they do. And when the change finally arrives, its impact is often larger than expected. This is where we will see the real impact of IoT in the long term, and we need to remain nimble to adapt to ever-evolving market needs and demand.
2. How do you see the importance of wireless connectivity in the next industrial revolution?
The single most important innovation in business and commerce is the ability to move and analyze massive amounts of data to drive informed decisions. Wireless networking is at the heart of this data migration, and the ability to bridge the last mile of data through connected IoT devices is a vital part of the data cycle.
Imagine if you were able to create simpler, smaller designs while increasing performance and lowering costs. Imagine if data could be processed quickly and seamlessly to maximize efficiency.
As we look to the future, the IoT landscape will continue to evolve and technology will likely continue to significantly change and advance along with it. The impact of this evolution will mean increased global demand for innovation excellence across multiple industries.
Being able to anticipate customer needs, adapt to industry trends and swiftly adopt the right new technologies will be even more vital to the life and longevity of businesses than ever before. With all of this in mind, the multimillion dollar question still remains: Will you evolve with it or be left behind?
3. What are the common roadblocks to wireless implementations in industrial settings?
While communication speed has been a priority for decades, there’s been a stronger focus lately toward long range and low power connected devices. The networks that long-range, low-power devices use are often referred to as low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs). Examples of applications that benefit from LPWANs are environmental sensors like temperature and air quality and battery-powered flow meter sensors for water, heat and gas.
These sensors typically communicate very infrequently – with minutes to hours between each engagement. For such applications, the technology is optimized for long-range radio-frequency (RF) communication at the expense of high data throughput.
Today, LPWAN solutions have a lack of scalability and are less robust due to interference issues and coexistence problems with other radio networks. Many existing solutions are not able to offer very high data delivery consistency over time. Battery life is also limited due to inefficient transmission methods.
4. How does LPWAN help to overcome these roadblocks and fuel industrial IoT adoption?
TI is one of the founding members of the recently formed MIOTY Alliance, which serves as the governing body of the MIOTY LPWAN solution. The MIOTY standard offers a complete long-range and low-power solution for worldwide Sub-1 GHz communication.
MIOTY can help IoT developers overcome design challenges such as:
- Difficulty meeting long-range requirements
- Achieving long battery lifetime
- Performance degradation in high-node-count networks
MIOTY has many inherent advantages, including:
- A combination of coding and narrowband operation enables long range RF communication.
- Reduced packet overhead and efficient coding result in current saving.
- More robust communication and larger networks are possible due to the telegram splitting
The MIOTY solution offers a star network for low-power end/leaf nodes, as well as a gateway solution for cloud connectivity. As of today, MIOTY offers a private network, but the expectation is that third parties will also offer a network solution as a service.
The MIOTY standard operates in license-free bands around the world. There are no costs involved in using the radio spectrum, unlike narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) solutions.
5. Where do you see the industrial wireless market headed in 2020 and beyond?
MIOTY is truly the LPWAN solution for the future. It offers scalable, robust network performance, which is a core requirement for industrial IoT. In addition, the MIOTY standard provides low power due to effective system architecture. When combined with the low power SimpleLink RF SoC, this architecture makes long battery life possible. As the IoT landscape continues to grow and evolve, the MIOTY standard and the SimpleLink™ platform create a viable connectivity option for worldwide Sub-1 GHz communication.
About MIOTY Alliance
The MIOTY Alliance was formed this year to combine the expertise of the world’s leading tech companies to develop a complete ecosystem of IoT technologies that makes the MIOTY connectivity protocol more accessible, interoperable and consumable for companies worldwide. Fraunhofer, BehrTech, Diehl, Texas Instruments, Ragsol, Stackforce and WIKA have joined the MIOTY Alliance to achieve this goal.
Mattias Lange is the General Manager for Connectivity at TI, which includes the SimpleLink™ microcontroller (MCU) platform. Mattias focuses on defining and executing TI’s strategy and product roadmap for wired and wireless MCUs enabling IoT deployment for industrial and automotive markets.