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Deploying a wireless IoT network: What to consider

Deploying a wireless IoT network: What to consider

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a growing phenomenon, with billions of devices already connected to the Internet. Inevitably, security – with the different sensors associate with it – will be a big part of the IoT trend. Against this backdrop, it is vital for the systems integrator to understand IoT to make an implementation successful.

When deploying a wireless IoT network, several things need to be considered. “When wireless is needed, the first thing to check is what kind of application we have to cover. It really depends on the distance from the device, the security level required, and the bandwidth to run the application,” said Andrea Azzoni, Marketing Manager at Fluidmesh Networks.

“Range of coverage is crucial because people need to be able to move around freely in their homes,” said Mitchell Klein, Executive Director at Z-Wave Alliance. “Data speed and reducing lag time is important, because smart technology users need to have a result when they push a button or provide a command.”

When transmitting data between devices, the security of the communication is also vital. “It is impossible – and ultimately irresponsible – to not consider security an integral part of these devices and the IoT industry as a whole,” said Mark Powell, Executive Director at Bluetooth SIG. “For our part, we take security very seriously, delivering a strong, government-grade encryption that more than meets consumer needs. In fact, the latest version of Bluetooth is also the most secure Bluetooth connection to date with advanced privacy capabilities and government-grade AES 128-bit encryption.”

“In terms of being hacker proof, security is exceptionally critical,” Klein said. “Z-Wave has the deepest and widest range of security over any protocol. The S2 security framework provided by Sigma Designs offers the most advanced security for connected devices in the market today.”

Building materials are common issues in IoT networks. “When other standards conduct testing, the tests are done in open fields and not in the home setting. As a result, the networks don’t work well in homes with plaster and have difficulty getting through walls. There are significant transmission problems with some standards,” Klein said. “By operating in the 900 MHz band, Z-Wave devices are safe from ‘jamming.’”

The mesh networking technologies offered by Z-Wave and ZigBee can also solve the issue somehow. “The best solution is to deploy a mesh network with many nodes well inside the theoretical transmission distance. This way there are multiple communications paths around obstacles,” said Mark Walters, VP of Strategic Development at ZigBee Alliance.

Ultimately, the kind of connectivity to use should address the specific needs and demands of each use scenario. “For example, a smart flowerpot would want to have an extended range so you can connect to it from inside your home. On the other hand, a fitness app should be more concerned about how quickly it can upload data to your laptop,” Powell said. “In short, each factor can be equally important depending on the application. The key is to work with a wireless technology that provides the flexibility that lets developers decide those priorities for themselves and deliver the best user experience possible to consumers.”

Future of IoT Wireless Communication

Increasing the network’s range and reducing power consumption of the devices are two main directions in future IoT wireless communication developments. “Extending the IoT via mesh networking capabilities is a crucial next step to continuing the growth of the IoT by allowing devices to connect in networks that can cover an entire building or home,” Powell said. “These features will make it possible for developers to create the IoT experiences consumers expect and demand with ease, freedom, and a sense of security.”

“Increased battery life and power harvesting are some of the wireless communication trends on the horizon,” Klein said. “Wireless devices will no longer use batteries, but activity itself will power devices. Additionally, more gateways will add radios in an attempt to create interoperability between products that are not interoperable.”

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