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How is embedded design shaping the IoT?

Embedded processors have become smaller, more powerful and less expensive and are now shaping the development of the Internet of Things. Specifically, new IoT applications have benefited from embedded design, including smart cities, connected auto communication and asset tracking in transportation.

Smart cities

Smart cities use the IoT and embedded sensors to collect electronic data in order to improve city services and help manage resources, for example, a common frustration for drivers is finding a parking space in a public area. It is often time-consuming and a waste of fuel. With the IoT and an app that links smart parking meters, drivers will know exactly where the open spaces are or if the parking lot is full in advance. This benefits not only drivers, but also the businesses in the area.  Smart meters can capture data showing the pattern of customer parking such as the time of day and length of time spent parked. The data will be captured automatically, and the analytics may uncover the relationship of shopping behavior from parking patterns.

Smart street lamps, which can include energy-saving lights and smart cameras, are another example. Street lights can be equipped with sensors to determine if there are pedestrians nearby. If no motion is detected, the lights will dim themselves to cut down on power consumption. Additionally, developers are experimenting with smart cameras installed at the top of smart lamp posts to capture the traffic data. These cameras can tell if the traffic is too heavy or if an accident has occurred. It can then direct the traffic to an alternate route. When a traffic accident is detected, smart traffic lights can sync with emergency vehicles, so they can get to their destination faster.

Communication with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the Department of Transportation (DOT) and academic institutions have been working together on the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology. For example, a car equipped with V2V technology will be able to know if the brakes of the vehicle in front of it are being applied. And with the advancement of advanced driving assist systems (ADAS), the vehicle would be able to slow down without the driver even knowing it.

The technology uses a dedicated short-range radio communication (DSRC) to exchange information with other vehicles (speed, direction and braking status). This wireless two-way communication uses the 75 MHz band of the 5.9 GHz spectrum and will be able to cover a 300-meter range. The NHTSA reported that the combination of these technologies will reduce accident rates by as much as 50%, and it is in the process of developing regulations for automakers to follow. Moving forward, V2V can work with the new 5G technology to assist the development of autonomous driving.

Real-time asset tracking

Modern trucking and delivery of goods can get a big boost from embedded IoT. Many developers now offer tracking solutions to monitor the end-to-end delivery of goods. In some cases, they can even monitor the temperature and level of vibration of the goods. This is especially important for high-value and time-sensitive goods.

An embedded wireless device attached to the containers of goods can use a combination of low-power wide area network (LPWAN) and the local mesh network technologies for monitoring data. While the goods are on the road, either the Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) or Long-Range wide area network (LoRaWAN) can be used to track the whereabouts of the truck. When the goods arrive at the warehouse, the mesh network such as Bluetooth can then be applied to track the location of the containers inside a warehouse. Additionally, information such as the product model and parcel number can be captured automatically, which would increase efficiency for both inventory control and incoming QA inspection. This would take the guesswork out of proof-of-delivery and quality status of the goods. The analytics could also show if the goods had been dropped, measured by the level of vibration, or if their temperature had differed from any set parameters.

Summary

Smart cities, connected autos and asset tracking are just a few examples of how embedded design can be utilized to implement IoT development. The embedded IoT will continue to improve to provide new applications that will increase the operational efficiency of many aspects of our lives. Expect to see automated data capture, real-time availability of information and analytics to be part of the future of embedded IoT development.

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