By Alan Swain, P.Eng.
VP, Technology & Operations
Some of the biggest challenges to commercialization in the IoT space lie in the discovery and solution finding process around customer pain points, productivity and experience. As engineers work to build solutions for these challenges they must constantly be looking ahead to emerging IoT technologies to integrate these into new solutions.
Emerging IoT technologies was a key theme discussed at the Wavefront IoT Summit. Moderating a panel on the topic was such a treat. The room was packed as we engaged in discussions with Niels Holkov (VP e-Health & Digital Solutions Americas with Orange), Dan Mathers (Chairman & Co-founder of eleven-x), Ritch Dusome (CEO of Canada’s Centre of Excellence focused on Next Generation Networks) and Sony Manak (Senior Director, Worldwide Operator Certifications with Sierra Wireless.
Between Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies like LoRa and LTE-M1/M2, the flood of open IoT standards (MQTT and LwM2M) and SIMs that can be provisioned with any carrier of choice around the world (eUICC or eSIM), these technologies are set to reshape the future of IoT.
Here are four key takeaways from the panel around key emerging technologies that you should be aware of:
This is a physical layer technology that enables low cost, battery powered sensors which can operate for up to 10 years and connect over ranges of 2Km to 15Km. This is no longer a battle of choice between standards-based LoRa from Semtech that operate in unlicensed radio spectrum (networks in market now) and LTE-M1 from 3GPP that operate in cellular licensed radio spectrum (networks in trials now).
These are now widely viewed as complementary technologies to be used for various challenges and often will be co-deployed. We are seeing LoRa-based networks operated by new entrants like eleven-x and companies deploying their own network with fibre or cellular back-haul.
2. The Protocol Forest
What does this mean? In a nutshell, the days of end-to-end proprietary solutions is dead. The world has embraced the use of open standards to connect Things of the IoT world to the cloud. REST APIs are dominant and growing exponentially – these enable interoperability between various device management and data aggregation platforms.
In the cellular world, it’s important to understand the role of OMA-DM (the device management protocol from Open Mobile Alliance). This allows you to update software in the Thing, fix any bugs and mitigate future vulnerabilities of edge device platforms that have not yet been discovered.
Today, there are more options than ever before to consume specialized services as you need them. Examples include Publish and Subscribe services from Google, IBM’s Bluemix platform services including API’s to access Watson, the IoT Hub and Event Hub from Microsoft and analytic oriented services like Amazon’s Kinesis Firehose and Kinesis Stream. Now on Wavefront’s radar just beyond Horizon 1 is the Software Defined Thing (SDT) built on open source hardware that is a true reference design.
The only constant these days is change, and all the work done to standardize interfaces will usher in a transition to 5G – the tea leaves here spell out clear guidance: move fast and deploy now. Waiting is a sure path to being disrupted.
This emerging technology is arguably the most radical change in GSM connectivity in 20 years. The carriers fought this battle for years and lost to the automobile manufacturers and Apple when the GSMA ratified the SGP.02 v3.1 – Remote Provisioning Architecture for Embedded UICC standard in Q2 2016. Now, just a year after the standard was set, you can solder in an eUICC (eSIM) to make your Thing industrial grade, reduce SKUs, ship anywhere in the world and provision service with your carrier of choice.
Somewhere around Horizon 3, Wavefront predicts that SIMs will find their way into museums. In the same way that the floppy disk now represents a mere ‘save’ button on your desktop, we foresee the image of a SIM evolving into an icon for carrier selection.