Following on from our November 17 blog article titled Ideal sensor technology for IoT, we focus this edition of LiDAR Matters to explain the four main components of an IoT system, along with the key considerations for businesses adopting an IoT solution.
IoT is a gamechanger
The Internet of Things, commonly referred to as IoT, is transforming the way people interact and work. It’s also fast becoming a gamechanger for businesses as they reap the rewards of time-efficiency, speedy operations, and cost-cutting. It’s no surprise then that many more businesses are embracing technology and making plans to get connected to an IoT network.
With an upward trajectory, it’s predicted that businesses will have spent 24% more on IoT this year as compared to 2020. This will also contribute to the overall market reaching an estimated $160 billion by the end of 2021.
How an IoT system works?
Brought about by the rapid acceleration of automation, IoT refers to physical objects and devices (or Things) that are connected to the Internet. These objects can then communicate, transfer and exchange data through integrated sensors, software, and other technologies. As a result, IoT provides people with unparalleled efficiency for living and working. All IoT systems are composed of four definite and integrated components
- Sensors: These are devices that respond to a physical stimulus in the environment, be it light, sound, heat, and even motion. Since they are accurately able to sense the world around them, the beauty of sensors is that they can be bundled together to form a sophisticated, cloud-based data repository for an IoT network. Sensors are highly effective in monitoring, planning, and cost-saving; and their enhanced capability for rapid data collection is attracting many businesses to the world of IoT.
- Connectivity: Sensors are connected to each other, a gateway or the cloud through various means, mainly ethernet, Wi-Fi, 5G, or Bluetooth. Each medium has pros and cons when it comes to power consumption and range, so choosing the best option depends on the IoT application. Connecting an IoT system via 5G internet, for instance, enables faster and more secure connectivity which is key for applications like self-driving cars, smart factories, and renewable energy projects.
- Data Processing: Now that the raw data has reached the cloud, it needs to get processed into meaningful information by computer software. This processing is carried out by data manipulation techniques, namely Classification (data classified into segments); Sorting (data arranged in a specific order); and Calculation (logical operations for numerical data). The output from this data processing is readable and savable information for the end-user.
- User Interface: At this final last stage of an IoT system, the information is made useful to the end-user. This could be in the form of an SMS alert sent when movement is detected in a perimeter wall monitoring security system, for instance. A dashboard or interface will also then display metrics over a certain period, providing management and planners with useful, actionable information. The user may then also perform certain actions to affect the system, such as remotely arming the factory alarm system from a mobile device.
4 key steps for adopting an IoT solution:
Select the ideal sensor
Being the sensing organs for a network, sensors play a critical part of an IoT system. Sensors perform numerous functions so it’s important to find the ideal sensor for the specific IoT application. Here’s a summary of the most popular sensors available:
- A photoelectric sensor emits a light beam from its emitter element onto objects into the surrounding environment. A receiver then detects this light beam that is reflected off objects in the environment. Photoelectric sensors are the choice for measuring distance and volumes, as well as object detection via sense and perception. LiDAR is a type of photoelectric sensor.
Key features and benefits of LiDAR for IoT:
LiDAR sensors are specifically designed for size and weight constrained applications, making them an easy fit for IoT systems.
Technology and mass production have made LiDAR sensors affordable, making them the ideal 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
LiDAR sensors are designed to consume low power, meaning devices can 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.
LiDAR sensors play an important role in data privacy as they process objects and not images.
- An inductive proximity sensor detects approaching metal targets. They are classified into three categories: the high-frequency oscillation type, the magnetic type, and the capacitance type.
- Contact sensors measure the distance and position of an object by directly contacting it. These types of sensors are used for detecting the height and thickness of objects.
- Ultrasonic sensors make measurements using ultrasonic waves. Using the Time of Flight (ToF) principle, an optical sensor measures the time it takes for an ultrasonic wave to be emitted to and returned from the surrounding environment.
- Vision sensors use a camera to capture images to detect targets and determine presence. These sensors have a simple construction method, with camera, light and controllers housed together.
IoT adoption is a long-term investment, so your business needs to commit to it. A good start is implementing simple business processes, like shifting existing Information Technology (IT) infrastructure to the cloud, for instance. A progressive next step could be to hire a developer experienced in IoT system design and infrastructure implementation.
Data is key
Big data is a key resource and a worthwhile investment that may just save your business millions. Since IoT systems retrieve and transfer significant volumes of data, it’s important to consider sufficient data processing platforms. A good start will be to set up one data point at a time, assess results and then move onto the next point. Following this approach, you’ll eventually build a sophisticated network model that speedily processes valuable data and displays it in a consolidated dashboard view.
Having a scenario where millions of devices are connected to the openly accessible Internet is a big potential risk. It’s thus important early on that privacy and security be a key milestone for IoT adoption. The risk of malware software intentionally connecting to and intercepting or damaging your IoT network is real, so it pays to invest time and money in securing it. Fortunately, the market is growing with several reputable security solutions that provide end-to-end encryption at a great price.
Risks and rewards of IoT:
Despite the rewards, there are also risks involved in adopting IoT for business. Watch this space as we dedicate a forthcoming blog article to unpack the risks and rewards of IoT.
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.
Partner with us to solve your IoT challenges
Contact us on [email protected] and we’ll partner to achieve your LiDAR objectives.
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