Editor’s note: This particular blog is sponsored by ADLINK.
Forget about controlling your garage door or AC from your smartphone; these are just a hat trick on the Internet of Things. The real IoT deals with existing commercial and industrial devices becoming “wired” to the cloud.
Market data firm IDC estimates that 85 percent of the tens of billions of nodes and sensors needed for the Internet of Things (IoT) already exist “within installed infrastructure”.
That means they’re already powered up and doing their thing…but they’re not necessarily IoT-ready. They might be standalone stoplight controllers at a small town intersection blinking red-yellow-green in the middle of the night, or lower-tech vending machines stocked weekly with grape soda (in homage to the movie “Up”). More sophisticated—but still standalone—systems can include building HVAC or FACP (fire alarm control panel) equipment at a local senior center. None of these systems were designed for Internet connectivity. But all of them and billions more are candidates for being remotely controlled, maintained, and most importantly: sharing their data on the IoT.
The promise of the IoT with legacy industrial systems like these is unlocking the data they contain (and monetizing it), remotely healing faults, predicting maintenance, and more. Some nodes can be retrofit with short-range wireless capability via 802.15.4 or 802.11x (Wi-Fi), but most will maintain their original analog or digital I/O interfaces from proprietary to TTL to RS-485. Concentrating individual nodes and sensors into a group requires a gateway that aggregates and secures data, makes intelligent decisions, and secures the connection to the Internet cloud using WiFi, 4G, or Ethernet.
The gateway will endure harsh environments: from vibrating factory floor to scorching rooftop—with no fans to lower MTBF. It’ll also be small, maybe shoebox-sized at most, easy on power, and flexible enough to accommodate modular hardware needed to work with any legacy sensor, system or future IoT node.
Data? Nope—We Want Decisions
The gateway needs some serious horsepower. From translating local protocols and legacy H/W interfaces into the IPV6, TLS and HTTPS language of the Internet, the gateway’s CPU needs to pass intelligent data onto the IoT—not just raw data. The distinction is huge. Merely routing data from local sensors onto the Internet is not the point of the IoT. Instead, aggregating that data and rolling it up via local algorithms (remotely loaded) into “actionable intelligence” allows the gateway’s operator to interpret machine or sensor trends and make big picture system-of-system decisions.
For instance, groups of local vending machines suddenly running low on one kind of soda provides valuable demographic data that can be sold to a beverage provider. Roll up dozens of machines across a city and correlate data with what’s on TV or which concerts are in town…and maybe the IoT says Lady Gaga fans prefer Diet Coke.
Example Gateway: ADLINK MXC-2300
The aforementioned gateway is more than a shoebox stuffed with flexible hardware. It is this, of course, but much more is required. Knowledge of myriad legacy industrial systems is needed in order to properly interface with them. ADLINK, one of Intel’s few Premier partners in the Intel Internet of Things Solutions Alliance, provides rugged board and system products to many related industrial IoT applications and industries (Figure 1).
The company’s HPERC rugged chassis fit the gateway model flawlessly, while the MXC-2300 Atom E3845-based Matrix “expandable computer” (Figure 2) has enough I/O options to connect to those 85% existing IoT nodes mentioned above. Additionally, as Intel catalyzes the IoT with their Intel Gateway Solutions for the Internet of Things integrated solution, ADLINK is certain to include the obligatory Wind River Intelligent Device Platform XT software plus McAfee’s Embedded Control software for security and manageability.
Most importantly, ADLINK has something for the IoT few suppliers have: a remote control and management system built into every module called SEMA Cloud. This Smart Embedded Management Agent and its PICMG-based EAPI API, available on both x86 and ARM ADLINK modules, provides remote M2M/IoT connectivity via command line, GUI or HTTP (Figure 3). Essential for controlling the gateway and IoT nodes are: watchdog; failure forensics; fail-safe dual BIOS; info/stats such as CPU type; module SERNO and uptime; temp monitor and fan control; separate I2C controller; power monitoring and control; and more.
Gateway is a Drug for IoT Revenue
With so many billions of devices ready to spew their data onto the Internet, companies can scarcely contain their rabid enthusiasm to start monetizing all that data via information and action. The IoT gateway—especially targeting the large Industrial segment—is an essential piece in the cloud picture. Companies like ADLINK have the experience, hardware, and infrastructure software necessary to utilize all that aggregated IoT data.