The concept of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) has spread exponentially over the last decade and is now an essential part of everyday life. IoT refers to the network of interconnected digital and electronic devices, capable of communicating with each other and collecting and transferring data without direct interaction with humans.
These connections effectively facilitate and speed up the exchange of data to support a wide range of operations and activities.
To date, there are more than 16 billion connected and operational devices globally, the equivalent of 2 devices for each person, and it is a number that is expected to grow in the coming years, reaching 41 billion by 2020.
The most common examples of IoT are "smart home" devices, such as programmable thermostats and remotely controllable equipment, but the IoT sector finds applications in almost every sector of the economy, from commerce to industry, from healthcare to public safety.
The application sectors of IoT
The advanced potential of IoT technologies finds space in numerous sectors, including:
- Residential: this scope includes all devices and systems for home automation and automation, for example for remote control of lighting equipment, heating, household appliances, entertainment and surveillance systems.
They are also understood wearable devices, such as smartwatches and virtual reality glasses.
- Healthcare: all those devices for personal health and well-being are part of this category, from products for monitoring physical activity to technologies that monitor and record patients' vital data.
- Public safety and transportation: In addition to smart cars and roads to manage traffic flow, IoT technologies are being deployed in urban infrastructure to improve safety and public services.
These include, for example, electronic systems for real-time indication of the arrival and departure times of public transport, smartphone applications for paying parking tickets, and devices to support the authorities in monitoring criminal activities.
- Industrial: In this sector, IoT applications, also called machine-to-machine (M2M), are adopted to improve and increase production efficiency, to monitor machinery and to optimize inventory operations.
- Energy and environmental: IoT devices also find application in the field of energy distribution, consumption monitoring (such as smart meters) and environmental conditions.
These are just some of the countless examples of current applications and potential benefits of Internet of Things technologies.
The technical challenges
In addition to the practical advantages, the exponential growth in the number of devices connected to the network also involves an evaluation from a technical point of view.
These products, in fact, incorporate wireless technologies and electronic components which pose various challenges from a design and compliance point of view market regulations.
The creation of these complex systems first of all involves the choice of a wireless communication protocol suitable for the characteristics and purpose of use of the products. Some of the most common communication technologies adopted by IoT manufacturers are: WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, GSM, UMTS, LTE, SRD.
Manufacturers not only have to correctly implement wireless applications to their product, but they also have to consider all aspects of electromagnetic disturbances and safety related to devices that integrate different functions (analog, digital and radio). This can be complicated in the design and debug phase, especially in case of malfunctions and difficulty in identifying the source of the problem.
From a regulatory perspective, IoT devices must do a correct use of the radio spectrum, must not emit too many noises and be too sensitive to the noises emitted by other equipment, and must guarantee the user's safety from both electrical and electromagnetic dangers.
Sicom Testing assists companies in the IoT sector, offering pre-compliance and testing, electromagnetic compatibility tests, certification of radio equipment, complete services CE certification and technical investigations, as well as post-production and batch control.
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