It is a massive leap from developing a traditional embedded device to developing an IoT device. The difference may seem trivial, but in fact once a ‘thing’ becomes part of the ‘Internet of Things’ it takes on certain responsibilities. It is as significant as when standalone embedded devices first embraced connectivity.
The IoT implies that there is a two-way conversation between the Internet and the Thing, which invariably means it will be talking to some form of server or cloud-based service. Platforms as a service (PaaS) are increasing in popularity for this reason, as it can be easier to plug into an existing infrastructure than to develop your own. Look at providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, all of which have platforms that developers and manufacturers can leverage to get their IoT visions off the ground.
The challenges in this case may be less about the infrastructure and more about the scalability of the solution; not in terms of the number of devices the platform can accommodate, but with respect to how simple it is to use the platform when developing and deploying devices that feature significant differences, or may be sourced from different providers.
One of the biggest challenges the IoT faces is its vastness. There are no widely-agreed standards in place to dictate how one device will communicate with another, what protocol it will use or how it will encode its data. Each IoT endpoint is unique in some way; yet they are all expected to inter-operate without any problems. The translation layer between these endpoints will inevitably be in the cloud, on the platform or the server, providing a common interface.
If analysts are correct, we can expect there to be billions of devices in the IoT. We can also expect manufacturers to implement what may appear to be very similar functions in very different ways. This is because they will all undoubtedly have their own interpretation of the requirements and what features should take priority. This will help generate competition in every corner of the IoT and will also create demand for a flexible way to design endpoints. Industries are really only starting to understand the ways they can use the IoT. As they begin to see the benefits, we can anticipate exponential growth in demand for new solutions that are all essentially unique.
As it grows, the intelligence in the IoT is predicted to migrate from the cloud and out to the edge, creating demand for a new generation of solutions that provide the right level of performance for the least amount of power. Right now, the amount of processing carried out in endpoints is relatively limited and is implemented using legacy technologies that have been given new purpose. The technology used in the cloud is very different; it prioritizes performance over power and is constantly evolving. What edge computing will require is something that delivers the best of both these domains.
Solutions for the IoT
So much change may be slightly bewildering for the developer. Addressing the IoT holistically would mean bringing together a server solution that can accommodate any type of endpoint, along with a way of developing endpoints that is adaptable to almost any number of variations, while ensuring the endpoint can deliver just the right amount of performance for a given power budget.
It takes vision to identify these needs and put together a solution that can meet them. Adesto Technologies has grown throughout 2018 through strategic acquisitions and is now positioned to provide all of the building blocks needed to really address the challenges of developing the IoT. The acquisition of S3semi created the foundation for its ASIC and IP Division. This purchase brought expertise in developing custom ASICs for edge computing, aided massively by the S3semi SmartEdge platform that is designed to make it simpler to create fully integrated custom solutions that deliver exactly the right functionality, whatever the requirements.
Adesto’s acquisition of Echelon Corporation formed the basis for Adesto’s Embedded Systems Division, bringing with it the SmartServer IoT, a revolutionary open and extensible architecture designed to enable any device to connect to the cloud, whatever protocol or communication technology it uses.
Adesto’s own EcoXiP non-volatile memory has been designed to provide energy-efficient performance for IoT endpoints that need to process more data locally. It can more than double the performance of a processor, while lowering system power and reducing the overall system cost.
These technologies as part of a large and growing portfolio of semiconductor and system solutions for IoT provide the building blocks for development, with particular focus on the needs of the Industrial market where the demands are even higher. Adesto, aided by S3semi and Echelon Corporation, is uniquely positioned to help you meet your challenges of being part of IoT.
Edel Griffith is the Technical Marketing Manager in the ASIC & IP Division of Adesto Technologies. She has over 20 years of experience in the semiconductor industry in both R&D and technical marketing roles. She has a degree in Applied Physics and Electronics from the National University of Ireland, Galway and an Executive Diploma in Strategic Digital Marketing from Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland.