The Internet of Things has been a buzzword for quite some time now. It’s an umbrella term that encompasses all connected devices, from smart home appliances to wearables like fitness trackers or even cars. The idea behind it is simple: connect everything in your life so you can make better decisions about how things work together. This includes connecting them as well as with cloud-based services such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, etc.
Io T Connectivity Options
There are many different ways to connect these devices to one another and the internet. Some options include Wi-Fi Direct, ZigBee/ZWave, LoRaWAN, Thread, NFC, BLE, Zigbee Mesh Networking, Cellular Data Modems, Ethernet over Powerline, USB, Serial Ports, HDMI CEC, DisplayPort CEC, RS232C, CAN Bus, SPI, I2S, UART, GPI, PWM, Digital IO, Analog Input & Output, RFID, Bluetooth Low Energy, Near Field Communication and others.
Each option offers its own set of pros and cons depending on what type of device needs to be connected and where they need to go. For example, if you want to connect two light bulbs via WiFi then there will not be any issues since both devices support this technology. However, if you wanted to connect a thermostat to a refrigerator using WiFi then you would have to use something else because neither supports WiFi. In addition, most of these technologies require power which means batteries must also be used.
This method works best when only 2 devices need to communicate with each other. Both devices simply scan for nearby networks and once found, establish a connection between themselves. If more than 2 devices try to do this at the same time then collisions occur causing data loss. Also, this method does not allow multiple connections to exist simultaneously. So, if you were trying to stream music through speakers while watching TV on your smartphone, you could not do both at the same time unless you had separate routers.
Pros: Easy setup; No additional hardware required; Works great indoors; Can be used by multiple users
Cons: Only 2 devices per network; Not suitable for long-distance communication; Does not provide encryption; Requires battery backup; May cause interference with existing wireless signals
This protocol was designed specifically for low energy consumption and uses short-range radio waves instead of traditional cellular towers. Because of this, it requires less infrastructure and allows for longer distances compared to standard cell phones. As a result, it consumes much less power and can operate without needing a battery.
Pros: Longer operating ranges; Uses very little power; Allows for longer periods of operation before recharging; Supports up to 32 simultaneous connections
Cons: Limited number of supported applications; Must be paired before use; Cannot transmit large amounts of data quickly; Needs external antennae or an internal coil to function properly
Near field communications is a relatively new technology that has been around for about 10 years now. It operates similarly to how bar codes work today but instead of being read from far away like normal barcodes, it reads them right next to each other. This makes it ideal for mobile payments as well as connecting smartphones together.
Pros: Very easy to implement; Small size; Reads tags close to each other; a Mobile payment system
Cons: Expensive; Needed equipment may be bulky; Tags are limited to a small amount of information; Tag cannot store credit card numbers
Radio frequency identification is another form of contactless chip-based technology that utilizes electromagnetic fields to transfer data. RFIDs are typically embedded into items such as keys, cards, etc., so they can easily identify who owns what item. They are commonly used for tracking inventory and managing access control systems.
Pros: Low cost; Relatively simple to set up; Easily integrated into existing security systems
Cons: Require special reader device; Data stored on tag is usually limited to basic ID info; Some readers will block certain frequencies
These two protocols have similar functions but differ slightly in their implementation. Zigbee works over shorter distances whereas Zwave extends its reach out to several hundred feet. Both require no installation costs and can be implemented using off-the-shelf components. However, because these technologies rely heavily on mesh networking, there must always be one master node within the area where all nodes communicate. If any of those nodes fail, the entire network goes down until repairs are made.
Pros: No need for expensive hardware; Can be installed anywhere; Easy setup; Mesh networking provides redundancy
Cons: High maintenance costs; Not suitable for long-distance communication; Only supports 2-way communication
Wireless fidelity is probably the most common type of wireless connectivity available today. The name comes from IEEE 802.11 which defines the standards by which devices connect to networks via Wi-Fi. These days, almost every smartphone sold includes built-in support for WiFI, making this protocol extremely popular.
Pros: Widely accepted standard; Simple to install; Works with virtually any device
Cons: Requires line of sight between transmitter and receiver; May not provide adequate range depending on environment; Difficult to maintain due to constant interference
Low power wide area network is an emerging IoT platform designed specifically for low bandwidth applications. LoRaWAN uses an unlicensed radio spectrum at 868 MHz band and transmits signals at very high transmission rates. Because of this, LPWAN requires less energy than traditional cellular or WiFi connections. In addition, since it does not use licensed spectrum, it doesn’t interfere with regular cell phone service.
Pros: Very low latency; Uses a lot less battery life compared to other options; Supports a large number of connected devices
Cons: Limited coverage; Needs specialized infrastructure; More complex to implement
If you plan on having lots of devices communicating over long distances, cellular communication may be an excellent solution. It provides high data rates and has a good range. The downside is that it requires a monthly subscription fee from carriers like AT&T or Verizon. This means that you won’t be able to just pick up a SIM card when needed. Instead, you’d have to purchase a whole new mobile device to make calls. Another drawback is that some phones do not work well with cellular communications. For example, if your phone’s antenna isn’t strong enough, then it will struggle to receive transmissions.
Pros: Longest range; Reliable; Affordable
Cons: Subscription fees; Some phones don’t work well with cellular technology
Zigbee Mesh Networking
ZigBee is another form of short-range wireless connection used primarily for home automation. Like Bluetooth, ZigBee operates on the same frequency as many other types of RFID tags. As such, it works great indoors but struggles outside. Also, unlike Bluetooth, ZigBee only allows two-way communication. That said, ZigBee offers much better security than Bluetooth.
Pros: Low cost; Good indoor performance; Two-way communication
Cons: Poor outdoor performance; Not compatible with all smartphones
Ethernet over Powerline
Power Line Communication is a method of transmitting Ethernet packets over existing electrical wiring within buildings. PLC can transmit data at speeds similar to wired LANs while using significantly lower amounts of electricity. However, because there are no dedicated wires running through homes, PoL suffers from poor reliability.
Pros: High speed; Easy installation; Can operate even without access to the internet
Cons: Noisy; Only supports point-to-point connections; Data rate
DisplayPort CEC is a standard developed by Intel that enables HDMI displays to control consumer electronics equipment via USB ports. While most TVs support CEC natively, PCs typically require third-party software to enable them to communicate with each other.
Pros: Works across multiple platforms; Allows remote operation of TV/media player/etc.; Simple setup process
Cons: Requires additional hardware; Third-party apps required for PC to connect to display
UART vs I2C
UART stands for Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter. It was originally designed in the 1970s when computers were first becoming popular. The idea behind this technology is simple – transmit information over serial lines rather than parallel lines like Ethernet or Wi-Fi. This means that if one device wants to send something out, they must wait until another device has finished sending before transmitting anything themselves. In addition, there is no way to tell what order things will be sent unless both parties agree on an ordering scheme. For example, if two devices wanted to talk about which color shirt would go better with blue jeans, they’d have to agree on how to sort through colors alphabetically so that whichever came last wouldn’t get skipped. This method works well for small amounts of data because it uses little bandwidth. However, it isn’t suitable for larger messages since it takes time to transfer everything.
I2C is a newer standard developed by Philips back in 1985. Its main advantage is speed. Since it operates using a shared bus instead of individual wires, it can handle many different types of communication simultaneously. Unfortunately, it cannot support any type of encryption. So, anyone who wishes to eavesdrop on your communications needs to physically connect to the circuit board itself. IoT Devices
Pros: Small size; Low cost; Easy setup
Cons: Requires external battery source; Not compatible with all sensors
The GPIO pins provide direct digital input and output signals to electronic circuits. They allow you to directly manipulate voltages, currents, resistances, capacitances, inductance, etc., as needed. These inputs and outputs may either be analog or digital. Analog inputs tend to be more sensitive but less accurate whereas digital inputs tend to be less sensitive but much more precise. Digital outputs work similarly except that 0’s represent logic high and 1’s represent logic low.
This allows a host computer to act as a peripheral device such as a keyboard, mouse, printer, scanner, webcam, storage drive, etc. A microcontroller acts as the hub between the host and peripherals.
Pros: Can easily add new functionality without having to buy extra parts; Relatively easy to use
Cons: May not always function properly depending on the specific implementation; Not supported by all operating systems
Which is best?
As mentioned earlier, none of these options are perfect. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons. Some offer faster speeds while others provide longer ranges. Others allow multiple simultaneous connections while still others are cheaper. You might also want to consider whether the connection requires power, distance, and cost. Let’s discuss each aspect:
WiFi Direct does not require much power at all. All you need is a single microcontroller chip that runs off battery power. If you’re looking for long-range, then you’ll probably want to look into ZigBee/Zwave. These protocols do require more energy than WiFi but their range is significantly greater. On top of that, ZigBee/Zwave allows up to 255 nodes per network. That makes it ideal for large-scale projects. If you don’t mind having fewer nodes within your network, then you could opt for LoRaWAN. While it doesn’t come close to offering the same level of coverage as ZigBee/Zwave, it does have several advantages including lower costs, smaller form factors, and less interference.
The farther away you want to place your IoT devices, the harder it becomes to maintain connectivity between them. As we discussed above, some protocols only operate within short distances. Other protocols can reach further distances but may require additional hardware to achieve those results. Finally, some protocols can cover very wide areas without requiring extra hardware.
Depending upon the protocol being used, the price varies greatly. Most low-end solutions start around $10-$20 whereas high-end ones can run upwards of $100+
There isn’t one “best” option here. It depends entirely upon what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you just want something cheap and simple, Wi-Fi direct will likely suffice. However, if you plan on using this in an industrial setting where reliability matters, then you should go with Zigbee/ZWave. The best solution depends entirely upon your needs. It’s important to keep in mind that there are tradeoffs involved when choosing any particular technology so make sure you understand exactly how they work before making a decision.