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Points for Picking the Right IoT Hardware Platforms

The Internet of Things (IoT) market is expected to grow to $661.74 billion by 2021. IoT technologies have emerged as a driver of innovation accelerating the journey toward an interconnected world. Hardware platforms play a fundamental role in this journey. 

Currently, 700 IoT hardware platforms are available in the world to help designers learn and prototype IoT devices and things. Embedded programmers and designers usually prefer a particular platform, such as the familiar Arduino Yun or Raspberry Pi. However, there is much more in the pool awaiting to be explored. 

Recently, a crowd of some of the most innovative hardware startups in Europe got together to discuss IoT hardware platforms as well as the future of the latest innovations in the field. 

The event, organized by Hardware Pioneers last month in London, England. It was sponsored by UL, a global company that optimizes the supply chain for manufacturers and retailers establishing standards in the development of new pathways for the latest innovations, and Inmarsat, a company that enables mission-critical communications where terrestrial networks are unreliable, or don't exist. Inmarsat has 13 satellites in Geostationary orbit. 

Currently, Inmarsat in conjunction with partners in the cellular telecoms space are considering a funded accelerator program to explore innovative solutions around agriculture, utilies, environmental monitoring, financial technology, and global development. 

Guest speakers from Texas Instruments, one of the top ten semiconductors companies worldwide; Arrow Electronics, an American Fortune 500 company specialized in distribution and services relating to electronic components and computer products; NXP, the co-inventor of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology; and Leverege, an IoT simulation platform that enables rapid IoT prototyping and polished demonstrations took turns on stage.

Image courtesy: Susan Fourtane

Image courtesy: Susan Fourtane

Choosing the right IoT hardware platform

Different parts of the system have different requirements to consider such as sensors, and gateways. To make the right selection you should start with connectivity, said Arrow's David Potts. It could be a LoRa or Sigfox network. The following is a quick guide to consider when choosing an IoT hardware platform: 

Selecting connectivity considerations

  • Select the right connectivity for your application, select the best in Class solution
  • Start with a module where the vendor can support with chip down
  • Start to consider encryption/security and how you are going to ensure this in the design as this will lead to other requirements

Security

  • Standard MCU
  • Crypto companion
  • Standard MCU
  • Secure MCU

Potts recommendation goes to Crypto companion. 

Processing requirements

  • This tends to be based on amount of data being sent
  • Sometimes this doesn't follow true
  • Start with the supplier reference design for the wireless model

Power requirements : This can be one of the most challenging parts of hardware design. Common requirements include:

  • Battery charging
  • Low Quiescent Current ( IQ) low drop out (LDO) regulators
  • Low IQ Boost regulators 

Sensor IoT platforms: build or buy?

  • Select a platform in line with your volume expectations
  • Production sensor products tend to be made rather than bought

As final remarks, the panel recommended gathering ideas and best practices about what solutions work for with applications from others. Networking at events certainly helps.

Image courtesy: Susan Fourtane

Image courtesy: Susan Fourtane

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