Highlights of IDTechEx: IoT Connectivity Sessions and Exhibits: November 15-16, 2017


The Internet of Things (IoT) will connect existing systems and then augment those by connecting more things, thanks to wireless sensor networks and other technologies. Things on the ‘edge’ form mesh networks and can make their own automated decisions.  This article reviews key messages from conference technical sessions on IoT connectivity and describes a new Wireless Mesh Sensor network which is an extension of IEEE 802.15.4.

Sessions Attended:

1. Overcoming Adoption Barriers To Achieve Mass IIoT Deployment, Iotium

Early adopters are realizing the complexities involved in scalable mass deployment of Industrial IoT. These includes deployment complexities, security issues starting from hardware root of trust to OS, network, cloud security and application vulnerabilities, and extensibility. This session will focus on these 3 areas in-depth to help you successfully deploy your own IIoT strategy.

2.  Overcoming The Connectivity Challenge Limiting IoT Innovation, Helium

The hardware and application layers of IoT systems are supported by robust, mature markets, with devices tailored for any use case and pre-built infrastructure platforms from Microsoft, Google and AWS.   But the connectivity layer, without which the entire system is useless, still has numerous challenges. It takes too much knowledge and time to get data from sensors to apps that most staffs don’t have.   The speaker discussed a streamlined, secure approach to connectivity that will make building a wireless IoT network as easy as designing a mobile app, thereby removing the greatest barrier to mass IoT adoption.

3.  Whitelabel The Future: How White Label Platforms Will Streamline The IoT Revolution, Pod Group

As expectations tend towards personalized, data-driven services, responding immediately to market changes is becoming a key differentiator, creating the need for mutual insight on both sides of the market. Whitelabelled platforms are an effective intermediary, allowing unprecedented levels of customer interaction and paving the way for truly end-to-end IoT systems.

Barriers to achieving a sustainable IoT business model:

-Businesses must have flexible resources and structures:
a] lacking tools to implement (new technology/billing)
b] organizational changes (retraining staff/expertise at top level)

-55% of large enterprises are not pursuing IoT (Analysys Mason)

-Digital proficiency lacking in 50% of companies (Price Waterhouse Cooper)

-IoT platforms can introduce users to systems as a whole & streamline management

There are several different types of IoT platforms:

-IoT Application Enablement Platform – in-field application (eg. device) management
-Connectivity Management Platform (CMP) – management of network connections
-Back-end Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – hosting space and processing power
-Hardware-specific Platform – only works with one type of hardware

Many platforms tied to specific provider/device:

– ‘Agnostic’ platforms ideal to integrate different types & retain adaptability (eg. connectivity management integrating device mgmt. & billing capabilities).

-CMPs offer a range of services: managing global connections, introducing providers to clients, integration with hardware vendors, etc.

-CMPs focus on centralized network management- not on building new services.

-Application Enablement Platforms focus on device management/insight–billing hierarchy enables new business services with additional layers, e.g. analytics.

What will the IoT landscape look like in the near future?

-Various connectivity technologies competing, platform technology and open-source driving software/service innovation.

-Hybrid platform offers ease of management, solid foundation for building recurring revenue from value-added services – ensures business is scalable and able to roll-out services quickly.

-Capable platform shifts focus from day-to-day management to building new bus. models and recurring rev. streams..

-Whitelabel platforms help to implement new business models throughout business, consolidate management of legacy and future systems, and build recurring revenue from end-to-end value-added services.

Choose right platform for your business – ease-of-use, billing hierarchies, multi-tech integration key to generating recurring revenue.

With a strong platform in place to future-proof devices and manage customer accounts and business, enterprise can be part of full IoT ecosystem, gaining value from every stage.

4.  From Disappointing To Delightful: How To build With IoT, Orange IoT Studio

Many engineers, designers and business folks want to work with IoT devices, but don’t know where to begin. Come learn which mistakes to avoid and which best practices to copy as you integrate with IoT or build your own IoT products. This presentation examines the consistent, systematic ways that IoT tends to fail and delight. The talk explained what makes IoT unique, and examined why it’s not at all easy to classify IoT platforms and devices.

5. Many Faces Of LPWAN (emphasizing LoRaWAN), Multi-Tech Systems 

Until recently, most M2M and Internet of Things (IoT) applications have relied on high-speed cellular and wired networks for their wide area connectivity. Today, there are a number of IoT applications that will continue to require higher-bandwidth, however others may be better suited for low-power wide-area  network options that not only compliment traditional cellular networks, but also unlock new market potential by reducing costs and increasing the flexibility of solution deployments.

Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN)s are  designed to allow long range communications at low bit rates.  LPWANs are ideally suited to connected objects such as sensors and “things” operating on battery power and communicating at low bit rates, which distinguishes them from the wireless WANs used for IT functions (such as Internet access).

Many LPWAN alternative specifications/standards have emerged – some use licensed spectrum such as ITU-R LTE Cat-M1 and 3GPP NB-IoT, while other alternatives such as LoRaWAN™ are based on as specification from the LoRA Alliance and uses unlicensed industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) radio band/spectrum.

IoT has many challenges – from choosing the right device, to adding connectivity and then managing those devices and the data they generate. Here are just a few IoT connectivity challenges:

  • Long battery life (5+ yrs) requires low power WAN interface
  • Low cost communications (much lower than cellular data plans)
  • Range and in-building penetration
  • Operation in outdoor and harsh environments
  • Low cost infrastructure
  • Robust communications
  • Permits mobility
  • Scalable to thousands of nodes/devices
  • Low touch management and provisioning – Easy to attach assets
  • Highly fragmented connectivity due to a proliferation of choices

Mike Finegan  of Multi-Tech presented several LPWAN use case studies, including tank monitoring in Mt. Oso, CA; point of sales terminals, kiosks, vending machines; oil and gas; distributed energy resources; agriculture; and a real time control school traffic sign (T-Mobile using NB-IoT equipment from MultiTech (the first public NB-IoT demo in North America).

Mr. Finegan concluded by emphasizing the importance of security functions needed in an IoT Connectivity Platform.  A “trusted IoT platform” should reduce attack vectors, provide secure and reliable end to end communications, and device to headquarters management services.

6. What Makes a City Smart? Totem Power

The framework necessary to build holistic infrastructure that leverages capabilities essential to realizing the full potential of smart cities – concepts including curbside computing power, advanced energy resiliency and ubiquitous connectivity.

An interesting observation was that fiber trenches being dug to facilitate 5G backhaul for small cells and macro cells could accommodate electrical wiring for power distribution and charging of electric vehicles within the city limits.


At it’s booth, Analog Devices/ Linear Technology displayed an exhibit of SmartMesh® – a Wireless Mesh Sensor Network that was based on a now proprietary extension of IEEE 802.15.4 [1]. SmartMesh® wireless sensor networking products are chips and pre-certified PCB modules complete with mesh networking software; enabling sensors to communicate in tough Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) environments.

Note 1. IEEE 802.15.4 is a standard which defines the operation of low-rate wireless personal area networks (LR-WPANs) via PHY and MAC layers.  It focuses on low-cost, low-speed ubiquitous communication between devices.


The Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) wireless sensor networks (WSNs) must support a large number of nodes while meeting stringent communications requirements in rugged industrial environments. Such networks must operate reliably more than ten years without intervention and be scalable to enable business growth and increasing data traffic over the lifetime of the network.

More information on SmartMesh® is here.