Recent trends in IoT market: Analysis, Generalization and Prediction
Why IoT ?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the set of “smart” electronic devices, that connected into network and can communicate seamlessly over the Internet.
IoT can monitor your home, manufacture, farm, and even heart rate and blood oxygenation. IoT also can observe the weather, water quality, and persons actions in some area, and notify you about dangerous situations, – fire, flood, hacking, heart attack, – which in turn, can prevent those disasters.
Moreover, presence of distributed and at the same time closely conjoined ”smart” devices leads to a cheaper, safer and faster of industry processes, which in turn eliminate the risks human factor and frees up time for personal growth and creativity.
The key requirements for IoT-devices, which is independent of application, is a necessity in a strong connectivity and interaction through the network.
So, let us investigate, how the typical IoT-device is arranged and operates.
Typical architecture of IoT device and network
First generation of IoT-devices were made as an initiative order by creative IT-geeks during their education in MIT, who sought to the automation of their houses and private business, therefore, they were made using an existing and well-known non-specialized integrated circuits (IC). At the time of creation, the 8-bit Intel 8051 and Atmel ATMega microcontrollers family [1), 2)].
Because those microcontrollers were not equipped with a high-performance communication interfaces (USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth), but only with interfaces for circuit-to-circuit (USART, SPI, I2C etc.). Therefore, communication were performed by using of a separate IC (ENC28J60, RF2540, BC417, ESP8266, even GSM SIM800) with embedded host controller, which is connected to the MCU through the low-speed interface and text-based communication protocol.
Typical sensors with analog output are connected to the low-resolution ADC-core embedded into MCU or to an external analog-front-end as well as general-purpose input/output control were performed by using of galvanically coupled from MCU relays, switches or triacs.
For example, a typical “smart lighting” device structure, implemented using a 16-bit low-power MCU and external analog front-end for sound processing, is shown below [3)]:
Current generation of IoT-devices incorporates most of these devices into a single IC, and core MCU is a powerful 32-bit ARM-based Cortex-M4 device, that can operates natively with float-point numbers, has several power consumption modes and embedded wired (TM4C1294) and wireless (nRF52832 or EFR32BG13P532F512GM32-C) MAC and PHY Layers that requires only connector or antenna for IoT-network integration. Moreover, some models contain a control circuit for secondary-side powering [4), 5)].
In the nearest future it can be assumed, that a single IoT-device, first of all, applied to the aerial vehicle or closed-loop manufacturing process, will be build based on multicore SoC or Processor [6), 7)].
IoT system architecture consists of three layers of devices: strictly speaking devices, edge gateways, and the cloud.
Various devices include sensors, actuators, relays, manual input and visualization equipment, often use wireless protocols like ZigBee, Bluetooth or wired ones CAN, Modbus to be connected to an Edge Gateway.
The edge gateway contains a sensor data aggregation subsystem that provide functionality, such as pre-processing of the data, secured connection to cloud, and, even in some cases, edge analytics or fog computing.
The upper layer contains the cloud application created for IoT-clustering using the fully platform-independent micro services architecture based on HTTPS or OAuth protocols.
Fog computing is a good approach to prevent the media storm of raw data through Internet. The computation power of edge devices is usually used to data collecting, processing and logging. It is also includes various database systems (Postgres) that store processed data from sensors.
With extremely growing the amount of IoT-devices (up to the billions), where each keeps possibility to became a part of public Internet address space, IPv6 Network Layer protocol starts to play a major role in servicing the network layer scalability. For lightweight data transporting the IETF’s Constrained Application Protocol, ZeroMQ, and MQTT are often used.
Software stack architecture
First IoT device were equipped with a standalone firmware, which differs one developer from other, often libraries were unstacked and non-portable, so, IoT-software design was an exotic and non-efficient process even in embedded programmers’ world.
Additional software libraries are developed for embedded implementation of USB HID, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, Zig-Bee and many other protocol stacks when used together leads to an unportable, hard to modification and non-optimal hard-code. This, in turn, leads to using of real time operating systems for MCU to manage all the software parts and to guarantee the safety interaction between code parts.
For example, Amazon provides developing of IoT-oriented branch of the most popular open-source FreeRTOS [8)] operating system [9)]. Among of OS extensions are: security, connectivity, and updateability. In addition, all open-source solutions developed in a large community starting to conform with the Linus’s Law [10)], therefore have a minimum bugs. Extended API for immediately (secured and fault-tolerant) connection to a:
Cloud Services using TLS v1.2 [AWS IoT Core];
Wireless and mobile devices (using of Bluetooth Low Energy or Wi-Fi stacks);
Peripheral onboard devices (touchscreens, LCD and TFT displays, cameras etc.);
Simultaneously with increasing of computational performance and integration degree of embedded hardware platform, early written software libraries written using non-effective but so flexible interpretable languages such as Java, C# and other, got the opportunity to be executed on embedded platform, and the specific hardware features to accelerate Java Machine were added to some ARM MCU cores.
At network level, a platform-independent is achieved by using of OSI-model as a backbone for nodes interconnection. Moreover, their accessibility as a web-services to make IoT-devices independent not only from hardware, but also from software stack peculiarities.
Insofar as IoT became a widespread phenomenon, a public request for a simplification of IoT-programming by users has arised. It leads to creation a lot of visual programming environments easy to use even kids and low-qualified persons for a high-level applications editing and collection of custom set of sensors for a concrete device.
SoC-based IoT devices (growing up the integration degree)
The next milestone in IoT-devices evolution aroused, when SoC manufacturing processes became less cheaper in times. One of the first generation of inexpensive SoCs, which became widely used in IoT-application were produced by Cypress [https://www.cypress.com/] and incorporates MCU-Core, various analog front-ends, wireless communication cores, and special-purpose capacitive touchscreen and LCD management IP-Cores placed at flexible bus matrix, which give a unique possibilities in flexible commutation of peripheral devices.
At high-end market, the first IoT-like devices were equipped with Xilinx® Zynq® and Intel Altera® Arria® SoCs whose were incorporated, but their price remained too high for a widely market using till past few years. They also allowing installation of full-featured Linux with hardware accelerated MMU and/or MPU features.
Analysis of market composition
Dramatically increasing the amount of IoT nodes and their using with a widest range of dangerous highly-risk application areas leads to focusing on a novel set of hitherto unknown problems. Among them three main need for thorough solving:
Absence of external wired power supply source and elimination of using of accumulators. Usually IoT devices have a wireless main communication interface, so, the presence of wired power supplying is adequate only in case, when the device is place closely to the power supply sources. However, in most application such situation is unreachable. Therefore, the design flow took the path of extremely energy saving which actually affected to silicon manufacturers [https://rlpvlsi.ece.virginia.edu/battery-less-internet-things-iot-system-chip-soc-0]. As the powering source for IoT-devices depend on application the photovoltaic panels, wind generation, constant temperature difference or are chosen. As an energy-harvesting element, accumulators were forced out by super capacitors (ionistors). In case when EMI level is insufficient the wireless charging using electric (air capacitors) or magnetic (air induction) fields are used.
Fully autonomous software upgrade procedure. The set of non-autonomous heterogeneous devices, which is distributed at large area, starts to need in a large human service team that reduces to nothing of all economic benefits from IoT automation. It in turn has reliability, security and right sequence keeping aspects.
Increasing the degree of integration. Allow decreasing the geometric dimensions and power consumption by device, which also simplify printed circuit board routing and leads to higher reliability of end device. A single chip at present not only incorporates MCU core, different memories (Flash, SRAM, Secured EEPROM), wireless interfaces physics chips and highly-specific analog front-ends for various types of sensors, but also switched mode-power power supply (SMPS) controllers, programmable logic and special-purpose cores for digital signal processing (DSP) including MAC, CORDIC, FFT and Histogram cores.
Extraordinary IoT Applications
Today there are less and less application areas, where IoT-devices are extraordinary, so, lets travel through the most recent application, where IoT technologies are appeared, but already proven themselves.
Healthcare and Ecology
IoT-devices might be used as a host processing unit for recycling or waste sorting plants or for distributed network of biohazard level monitoring at trashcans polygons. Recently released solutions deal with autonomous (from power supply point of view) robotized units for intelligent detection, localization, collecting and neutralization of waste products which are distributed in billions over the surface of Pacific Ocean [11)].
Energy generation and harvesting
IoT interface can be implemented as an interconnection pipe between distributed renewable energy sources, whose are conjoined into intelligent network. Consumers get full information about charge at each point, so, can select the nearest located energy source with enough charge volume.
Remote smart manufacturing services
Usually IoT collected data from input sensors, control and executive mechanisms are available as a web-service, so clients can not only remotely observing the production current status, but also exalt on process or even remotely perform order and dynamically select the initial settings of future product. For example, IoT-cluster can perform a success manufacturing process of printed circuit boards (PCBs) [12), 13)].
Body Area Networks and Cyborgs
This sensor network allow observing the mostly of typical human vital activity parameters: blood oxygenation and blood pressure, pulse rhythm, muscular activity, body actual position and dynamics in space, which opens up the possibility for remote control in life-critical areas (battlefields, resuscitations, and hospices).
Moreover, this network can be partially embedded into human body temporarily (endoscopy camera inside of tablet) or for life (endo-prosthesis of crystalline lens, pacemakers, or hearing aid) which allow tuning the sensitivity or some reference values after installation in non-invasive way. Here, a problem of battery-free devices is strongly arises, which will be disclosure below in text [14), 15)].
Today IoT-devices are intensively used in modern corporative and private farms, which revolutionary decrease or purely eliminates the human participation [16), 17)].
The huge number of smart sensor distributed onto large area can collect weather conditions, soil quality, flowers growth progress or animals health, which in turn can be used for accounting of staff performance and equipment efficiency, or for prediction of necessity in simultaneously performed irrigation, fertilizing, or pest.
Active and continuous control of both vegetables and fruit trees lifecycle and brutes leads not only to a better control over currently need influences, but also lowers the production risks (to early detected anomalies in health and weather) and better distribution of final products. In addition, it leads to enhanced production volumes in conjoin with a better quality of each unit.
Agricultural applications of IoT-devices also bordering with drones and smart home subject areas due to extension of above technologies onto farms utility buildings and automation of crop and field processing.
Prediction of IoT-market evolution
Based on approved market research we can claim that in next three years IoT-market will grow in three time and reach more than USD 560 million in 2022 and will conquer such target audiences as: M2M and Telecom providers, API and Third-part integrators, Regulatory and Government agencies.
However, the most intensive and perspective target audiences are Autonomous delivery and Wireless Charging services [18), 19)].
Autonomous delivery services
The autonomous delivery services can use of aerial, naval and wheeled drones that can use both global positioning system, GPS (and global navigation satellite system, GNSS) or versus use an inertial navigation or real-time kinematic for short-distance precision motion during their travel.
Allow to delivery cargos from a tens of grams (medicaments an foods) to a unit of tons (building blocks and industrial equipment) without human activity. We need only to install IoT-devices at source and destination locations, and obviously, onboard of drone [20), 21)].
Wireless charging at distance
The extremely intensive evolution of alternative and renewable power supply sources (first of all, a photovoltaic and wind turbines manufacturing) in conjunction with a simultaneously cheapening of technology bringing to life “Smart Grid” and Electric Vehicle concepts. The second element is not only represented by famous “Tesla”, but also developed by “BMW”, “Toyota” and many other corporations.
This, in turn, leads to necessity in charging stations for any types of electric vehicles (bicycles, cars, trams etc.) and energy harvested in private or municipal smart grids can be a by dint of smart charging unit.
In this case, each Electric Vehicle equipped with IoT-device can be not only receiver of electric charge, but also can transport it from one personal station to other and refuel a charge-poor stations, thereby performing a charge balancing functions.
Next step is to eliminate the human activity during charging process. Here we can apply the high-power inductive wireless chargers produced by WiTricity and, cheaper, by Meredot.
Security for IoT
Security is a relatively modern key feature in IoT-devices caused by their placing in corporative and highly- responsible applications where device maleficent firmware readback or its replacing with a malicious one leads to a theft of intellectual property, dramatically and significant economic losses or, moreover, in case of terrorism, to a human deaths. Today the basic necessary security features for IoT-devices includes:
- point-to-point encrypted connection between nodes;
- encrypted bidirectional data and command transferring and security key management;
- authentication by a certificate.
But the most critical action from the secure point of view is firmware upgrade procedure, which must resolve all possible errors with fault-tolerant rollbacks to an older firmware versions.
Majority of widely used hardware MCU platforms (Cortex-Mx devices) have a wide range of remote upgrade features by almost all interfaces (UART, I2C, CAN, USB, Ethernet etc.). Moreover, advanced devices supports encryption of firmware by using of hardware preprogrammed UID, SoCs and FPGAs a software processors have possibilities for creation a custom decryption sequence algorithm.
High-level IoT-gateways must incorporates a set of tools that allowing detection of unsafe behavior of IoT-end-nodes (violation of security policies), alerting of support engineers, and resolving dangerous situation by isolation of subnet or delegation of authority to other nodes.
Integration of IoT with Artificial Intelligence technologies
The extremely reduction in price of IoT platforms leads of big market players to embed IoT-support in their mass-production devices. This, in turn, leads to collect the statistics of using from a large representative sample for a big data servicing. In addition, such large statistic pre-prepared in a special way can be used to a Neural Networks education process or, of more used now Machine Learning approach resulting in a prediction of devices (and even users society) behavior.
Summarizing the above review, it is exactly to say that the “Internet of Things” concept shines the future, it is expected that more and more aspects of humans’ life will be controlled by IoT-devices in the nearest decade. These miniaturized but even more intelligent devices, conjoined by dint of network into a powerful smart cluster, are penetrated into all the elements: earth, air, water, and even into a human organism. IoT-subsystem is a significant part of the most modern electronic devices. Moreover, each new day brings us a novel application area to IoT.
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