Continued IoT Scalability Requires More Devices with Intermittent Connectivity

As our world becomes increasingly connected, IoT devices are emerging seemingly everywhere. With the total number of IoT connections projected to reach 83 billion by 2024, it’s time to start talking about technological changes that are necessary to accommodate continued IoT scalability and growth.

Currently, most IoT devices require stable and constant internet connections to sync their data to the cloud. The issue is that this level of connectivity is not always viable, and it comes with cyber risks. Hardware failures and bandwidth overloads happen, and they have the potential to wreak havoc on continuously connected devices.

For IoT to have continued scalability and evolve, taking its place in the digital mainstream — it’s essential to rethink the way devices are designed and secured

“The pace of innovation has generated requirements for millions of devices, most network (primarily wireless) connected in some capacity,” writes Earl Perkins, a VP at Gartner. “Unfortunately, most of these devices have little or no protection at the software and infrastructure levels.”

Engineering intermittent connectivity into IoT devices is a technical solution that is bound to drive increased adoption. Here’s how it can solve some of the current challenges IoT devices face.

Better power management for Continued IoT Scalability

While the technology is impressive, IoT devices are often hobbled by something as simple as a limited power supply. Constantly connected IoT devices have to be connected to a stable power source. As a result, they aren’t the most practical solution to use over long distances or in hostile conditions.

A lithium-ion battery helps

In many cases, the most practical power source is a lithium-ion battery. Once the battery runs out though, data transmission stops, and the IoT device is as useful as a brick. Consumer-facing IoT devices, such as those in appliances don’t face this problem since they’re built into the device and use the power source it’s connected to.

However, this isn’t possible in industrial use cases. The easiest way to reduce power consumption is to eliminate the need for constant data transmission. “If it didn’t take as much energy to transmit and receive wireless data, IoT devices would last longer,” explains Emily Newton of IoT Times.

What about the use of 5G for continued IoT scalability?

“5G New Radio (NR) will be far more energy-efficient than LTE networks,” she adds. “In an LTE network, base stations can only sleep for less than a millisecond before transmitting since they require many always-on signals. 5G NR can rest for 20 milliseconds between notifications, leading to lower-power sleep modes.”

What’s more, the rise of push paradigm IoT devices is a sign that product engineers are taking steps in the right direction to deal with the issue. Under this protocol, data is sent only when necessary (at a push of a button). XML and JSON payloads make sure that databases remain on track between transmissions.

The result is low battery use, and almost no energy wasted unnecessarily.

Less network strain

When analyzing IoT use cases from a business perspective, it’s obvious that in almost every case, there isn’t a need for a constant transmission of data. Sending a constant firehose of data back to central servers only increases network strain and makes it more likely that they’ll fail or get intercepted at critical junctures.

Here’s how to provide less network strain

The logistics industry provides a good example of how intermittent connectivity can ensure safer product delivery. IoT use has risen in the logistics industry thanks to the conditions under which the COVID-19 vaccine is being shipped.

These vaccines are stored and transported at far below-freezing temperatures in packets of dry ice. Traditional RFID condition monitoring tags that rely on radio waves cannot be used in air freight situations.

IoT devices have become a go-to solution. But what about product condition monitoring?

Always-on IoT devices have become a go-to solution, but the strain they place on the network jeopardizes product condition monitoring.

In such situations, solutions such as QR code-based data loggers are a better option. Employees can scan QR codes using their smartphones and transmit data to central servers as needed. The result is less network strain, lesser chances of network outages, and better condition monitoring.

“Data transfer reliability is what makes or breaks supply chain analytics,” notes Niko Polvinen, a co-founder of Logmore. “When you can have confidence in the quality of your data and your ability to obtain it, you will get the insights you need to make crucial supply chain improvements.

Efficient data retrieval

A constantly connected IoT device will transmit huge amounts of data to servers, causing server-side strain. Indeed, data generated from IoT devices is predicted to reach 73.1 ZB by 2025. All that data can give teams a wealth of information, but sifting through and running analytics on them is challenging.

Here is how to mitigate the data retrieval issues with IoT scalability

One way of mitigating this problem is to combine data mart storage with intermittent transmission. Data marts are a collection of relevant data related to a specific activity that an organization is interested in monitoring. For example, a retailer can create data marts for all of their departments or even product lines.

Central warehouses can store large datasets that are relevant for the entire organization, while data marts can provide teams with a quick view of important, product-specific data. With IoT devices transmitting data intermittently at relevant times, searching for and organizing data becomes simple.

Intermittent connectivity is the key to capturing relevant data without risking network overload. When combined with data marts, IoT use cases across all businesses grow exponentially.

Growing use demands new approaches for continued IoT Scalability

As IoT devices continue to proliferate every part of our lives, it’s time to rethink their design to prevent infrastructure failures.

Intermittent connectivity is the best solution thanks to the important issues it eliminates. Embracing it is the key to realizing greater IoT scalability.

Image Credit: Provided by Author; Thank you!

Reuben Jackson

Ruben is a blockchain security consultant currently living in New York City. He helps organizations fundamentally redesign experiences to create new sources of value also digitally reinventing company’s operations for greater efficiency.

Reuben Jackson

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