12 billion IoT devices – and why design engineers should care...

Author : Michele Windsor | Global Marketing Manager | Accutronics

03 January 2020

Accutronics_12 billion IoT devices_and why design engineers should care

According to Gartner, it was expected that by 2020 there will be more than 12 billion IoT sensors & devices in use. The market is ever growing, with applications in everything from flight path optimisation & tracking production in oil fields to robotic control & vertical farming.

This article was originally featured in EPDT's 1H 2020 IoT & Industry 4.0 supplement, included in the January 2020 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

Here, Michele Windsor, Global Marketing Manager at battery manufacturer, Accutronics looks ahead to 2020 and predicts the IoT trends that might effect design engineers in the electronics industry.

The growth in the industrial IoT market shows no signs of slowing down, which means we will see more data used and, in turn, more traffic in 2020. The whispers around 5G are also getting louder and it will become increasingly common to find it in use in industry, particularly in factory control applications. This in turn means increased security will be a key priority, as the number of devices and users expands.

In a recent series of lectures, Martti Mäntylä, Professor of Information Technology (Enterprise Systems) at Finland’s Aalto University, and head of its industrial networks programme, asked: “Can 5G provide a management and operational architecture for 20+ billion smart devices, providing the right mix of characteristics needed by next generation industrial use cases?”

This question is particularly relevant, given that network developments are ongoing, and both edge and mesh technologies are evolving. Edge devices continue to perform with efficiency and speed, while mesh devices communicate with each other, utilising a network topology in which each radio node relays data for the network, without a need for internet access at all.

Similarly, advancements in Bluetooth mean that it too is primed for use in an industrial setting, where short bursts of data need to be sent in a noisy environment, in which hundreds of sensors and devices are also transmitting.

Devices communicating with each other, either via Bluetooth, or on a mesh or edge network, delivers multiple opportunities for designers working on both home and industrial automation devices and networks. However, they also present unique challenges when incorporating batteries, particularly with regards to the frequency with which the device must pulse if it isn’t attached to a power grid. Because of the importance of uptime in network communication, backup power is vital.

It’s of paramount importance that all nodes have sufficient power to deal with the consequent, infrequent high-frequency bursts of energy. The CR123A from Accutronics’ parent company, Ultralife is a long-life battery that works perfectly with all sensors and is equipped to deal with these infrequent and intense bursts, without deteriorating quickly.

These batteries find applications in digital video cameras, SLR cameras, flashes, portable lights, smoke alarms, security systems, beacons and Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT), as well as sensors, handheld electronics and IoT devices. The voltage range is 1.5V to 3.3V and nominal voltage is 3.0 V, while dimensions are 34.5mm x 17.0mm.

It’s difficult to envisage what 12.9 billion IoT devices looks like; in fact 12 billion of anything is difficult to comprehend. For instance, 12 billion seconds is a very difficult time period to visualise – but, for reference, it’s 380 years!

So, if you want to imagine the size of market opportunity new IoT devices represent for design engineers, just imagine 380 new opportunities every single second for 12 months. With business moving that fast, next year will be here in no time at all!


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