Trade-offs in M2M product development

Long before the phrases M2M and the Internet of Things came to wider attention, we were already making machines talk to each other, says Dunstan Power of ByteSnap Design. Early adopters like General Motors and Hughes Electronics Corporation could see the benefits that machine-to-machine communications (M2M) offered forward-thinking businesses as far back as 1995 but when M2M via cellular communication took off in 1996, M2M wireless technology became far more popular.

Combined with embedded electronics, machine-to-machine communications offer consumers a wide range of sophisticated everyday devices. Businesses of all sorts are approaching us to capitalise on M2M opportunities. Whether they want to deliver a product to control home heating or monitor health, there are so many different hardware and software considerations. The innovative business with M2M ideas doesn’t necessarily know exactly what is needed to bring a product to market, so this is contributing to growth in embedded electronics consultancy services.

Indeed, there is steady growth in the electronics sector — in 2015, the European electronics industry is expected to grow by around four percent over the previous year, and the US industry by 6% [1]. We believe that a strong growth factor in embedded electronics consultancy services has been due to M2M. Businesses are looking for support when designing or developing an M2M device, as they attempt to balance key project success factors of time, specification and unit price.

Essentially, the development cost of a product is proportional to the time it takes to complete the project. So, to keep costs down designers and manufacturers need to assign development to a team on a fixed price basis or trade cost for time-to-market by bringing in a third party software library, which can reduce development time but for an increased price.

Playing it safe

By eliminating as many risks as possible i.e. ‘playing it safe’ using tried and tested technologies rather than newer, lower cost devices and components, cost and time-to-market can be reduced — sometimes dramatically.

Smart energy apps are a great example of embedded electronics combining with M2M to offer more efficient systems that communicate wirelessly. However, as no-one wants a smart energy app that malfunctions –– getting the design trade-offs right is even more important. Take ChargePoint, Europe’s busiest EV charging posts, which were introduced at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. We helped keep London moving by developing the smart metering technology used in an installation of these electric vehicle charging posts.

ByteSnap2-web

ChargePoint Services approached us to develop new electronics and software for GE charging posts, which had a strictly limited time frame that included pre-Olympics testing. Reliability was critical as, during the Olympics, the charging posts were the most heavily used in Europe, powering the fleet transporting athletes and officials between venues.

The original charging post needed a PC attached to it in order to authorise vehicle charging, so we designed a WinCE-based replacement, built into the posts. The WinCE controller also added metering capabilities and GPRS backhaul to ChargePoint’s servers. New control software for the posts downloaded a ‘vehicle whitelist’ allowing the post to authorise charging even when the mobile network failed.

ByteSnap3-web

Not ‘bare metal’

By choosing WinCE instead of a ‘bare-metal’ microcontroller with no operating system, we added flexibility, while an off-the-shelf ARM processor and our own ZMM-01 metering module reduced cost and development time. Using WinCE also enabled us to accommodate functional enhancements requests quickly – simple yet effective, thanks to the right trade-offs having been made.

Reference:
[1] http://www.statista.com/statistics/268396/estimated-growth-rates-for-the-electronics-industry-by-region/

The author of this blog is Dunstan Power, director, ByteSnap Design

FEATURED IoT STORIES

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more
RECENT ARTICLES

IoT CMP vendors add eSIM management capabilities to simplify logistics and localise connectivity

Posted on: December 1, 2021

Gothenburg, Sweden. 30 November 2021 – Berg Insight, the IoT market research provider, released new findings about the market for IoT connectivity management platforms (CMPs), a standard component in the value proposition from mobile operators and IoT MVNOs around the world. Recent developments in the domains of network virtualisation, SIM technology and LPWA networking are

Read more

5 things to keep in mind when designing for IoT

Posted on: December 1, 2021

“It’s the beginning of machines taking over the world.”  The IoT (Internet of Things) is an exciting set of new technologies designed to connect various devices and networks in a wide range of applications. The IoT landscape is changing rapidly. More devices are being connected to the internet every day.

Read more