August 6, 2015

This is the first post in a multi-part series that explores the challenges of dealing with wireless technology as part of an IoT initiative. This blog series will offer insights to help IoT developers prepare for and overcome the unique challenges involved with implementation. This first post will focus on “reliability”. For obvious reasons, wireless technology will play a key role in the future of the Internet of Things. Right now, that stage is being set. Technological advances in edge devices and cellular networks have made it easier and less expensive for mobile assets to be connected, removing two significant barriers to adoption. The fact is, machines communicating via cellular, satellite, or wireless connections will be just as big of a part, if not bigger, than the Internet of Things as machines with wired connections. However, the unfortunate reality is that wireless communications aren’t always as dependable as wired internet connections. That said, there are a number of steps connected product manufacturers can take early in the IoT development and implementation processes that will help ensure the level of connectivity IoT initiatives require.

  1. Design an architecture that assumes and accounts for intermittent connectivity by building in intelligence that queues up data when offline to be sent out once connectivity returns.
  2. Build in connectivity backups, so that if one kind of connectivity fails, another will take over. For example – if a moving asset loses its cellular signal, the machine can automatically switch to satellite communications. This strategy is essential for mobile assets that require continual connectivity.
  3. Test your assets’ connectivity. Connect the asset, take it to a specific location, and determine the quality of the connection. In the end, nothing beats real-world testing.

Even though nothing is more dependable than a wired connection, wireless IoT is opening new doors for the industry – from the shipping and fleet industries to a wide range of consumer products. Wireless connectivity is a critical part of the industry’s future – it just takes a bit more thinking and planning to make it work right.

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