The Internet of Things, commonly referred to as IoT, is transforming the way businesses and people live, communicate, and transact. This transformation is brought about by the increased availability of high-speed Internet connection and the acceleration in sensor technology.
It’s why we’ve dedicated this edition of LiDAR Matters to focus on IoT and how LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology is fast becoming the ideal choice for many IoT applications. With numerous sensor technologies complementing the IoT revolution, we also look at the key features and benefits of LiDAR that make this technology a perfect fit for IoT.
Brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is characterized by automation, IoT describes a network of physical objects or ‘things’ integrated with sensors, software, and other technologies. These ‘things’ connect and exchange data with devices and systems via the Internet for a specific purpose. This ability to connect things via the Internet means that systems become seamless and intelligent, providing businesses with production efficiency and profit generation.
Sensors are the answer
Moving deeper into the world of autonomy and automated process flows, sensors are key in not only providing machines with sense “perception” but also in connecting remote ‘things’ together. A sensor is best described as a device that detects and responds to a physical stimulus, such as light, sound, heat, pressure and even motion. Sensors have become sophisticated pieces of equipment, able to sense, feel, hear, and even taste.
Sensors also serve to detect certain properties of objects such as measurement (distance/height), volume, levels, speed, and relative positioning. As a use-case example for industrial process control, active sensors detect a change in physical or chemical properties resulting in a specifically set response to that change.
As if possessing all these incredible capabilities is not enough, sensors also provide an essential data point in real time. This allows for effective monitoring, planning, and cost-saving measures for businesses operating in a multitude of industries. This enhanced capability for rapid data collection is what’s attracting many tech-driven businesses to the world of IoT.
The ideal sensor for IoT: LiDAR
Light Detection and Ranging, or LiDAR, is a sensor technology that uses light in the form of laser pulses to measure distance relative to objects. Through use of the Time of Flight (ToF) principle, LiDAR measures the time it takes for a sensor to emit a laser into the surrounding environment, deflect off objects and return to the sensor. In this way, LiDAR builds a live map of the surrounding environment making it multi-functional for numerous applications. LiDAR also effectively generates its own light source, so it’s ideal for use in direct daylight, night, or even in extreme weather conditions.
The SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) transformation
LiDAR sensors have come a long way, literally. They were even deployed on the surface of the moon in 1969. Back then, they weighed and cost a lot! To the present, LiDAR technology is certainly moving with the times. Technological advancements coupled with mass production have transformed LiDAR sensors to not only be affordable, but also small, lightweight and with low power consumption capability.
Key features and benefits of LiDAR for IoT:
- Small Form
Many LiDAR sensors are specifically designed for size and weight constrained applications. This makes them an easy fit for many IoT devices and workstations.
LiDAR sensors had a reputation for being expensive, but that has changed with technology and mass production. This makes them the ideal sensor option for many businesses.
- Accuracy and precision
LiDAR is capable of fast update and refresh rates for accurate scanning and live data capture.
- Low power consumption
Being light and small, LiDAR sensors are designed to consume low power. This is often the essential factor for machines and things that need to perform at optimum for prolonged periods.
- Seamless data retrieval
LiDAR is compatible with many ‘plug and play’ software applications that provide instant download and analysis of data in an organized dashboard view.
- Reliability and safety
LiDAR sensors emit wavelengths that provide an ideal balance between reliability and eye safety (shorter wavelengths are more hazardous and longer wavelengths are less reliable).
As data privacy and protection demands increase, LiDAR sensors play an important role in that they process objects and not images.
Watch this space: IoT trends
With IoT establishing itself as a force for many businesses and industries, its opportune to look at a snapshot of the key trends for IoT:
- The global IoT market is expected to reach USD 1 trillion by 2030
- Smart city initiatives will be a main driver in IoT market growth
- The Asia-Pacific region is expected to hold the highest global market share
- Europe is expected to grow at the highest CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate)
- IoT will be a key fighter against the COVID-19 pandemic
- Blockchain will help alleviate scalability and security concerns for IoT
- Connected solutions will offer a competitive edge and ability to sustain the IoT market
- IoT growth will be inhibited by limitations associated with security, integrity & privacy of data in an IoT ecosystem.
Look out for an upcoming edition of LiDAR Matters where we unpack these trends
LightWare engineers solve IoT challenges
LightWare engineers have over 40 years’ experience in manufacturing quality microLiDAR™ sensors. We also offer tailored LiDAR solutions for industrial use.
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