Standardised Protocols Needed to Accelerate Adoption of IoT

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Inxee Systems Pvt Ltd, a Gurgaon-based IoT company, is involved in creating products and executing turnkey projects in various segments including smart city, smart home, smart factory, smart healthcare and smart wearables/trackers. While interacting with EFY Network, Nate Srinath, Founder and Director of Inxee Systems, speaks about the future of IoT, development standards for IoT, role of other technologies and much more.

Excerpts:

Q. In your opinion, which are the top 3 technologies that are shaping the future of IoT? How are they influencing the future of IoT?

Mr Nate Srinath, Founder and Director, Inxee Systems

A: The building blocks of IoT – sensors, hardware devices and cloud server – form the top three technologies driving the future of IoT. Sensors have evolved over the years and continue to evolve to fit the needs of innumerable IoT applications. Hardware devices hosting these sensors have become very sophisticated and consume very less power while being able to communicate over a host of wired and wireless interfaces. Software technology for the cloud server has seen considerable evolution with the birth of new technologies such as blockchain while technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are seeing a huge spike in their adoption for IoT applications.

Q. Between the cellular and NB-IoT/LPWA families of wireless technologies – which one are you betting upon? Why?

A: Both technologies have their importance in the IoT food chain. Narrow band (NB)-IoT has to be grouped with the cellular technologies as it is being adopted by the cellular telecom operators as a part of their network infrastructure.  As cellular-based IoT will eventually be phased out, operators are banking on NB-IoT to drive substantial operator revenues. Other low-power wide-area (LPWA) technologies such as long-range wide area network (LoRAWAN) and other narrow band low power wireless technologies will see a huge adoption and gain significant market share over cellular-based IoT services by 2025.

Q. How’s the development of standards (or lack of it) affecting the adoption of IoT?

A: The reason internet became a hit was due to its standardization. All devices communicating over the internet followed a specific set of protocols, supported by everyone to be interoperable. However, the ‘internet of things’ domain is highly fragmented at this time, with no clear winner. While there are certain industry bodies working on the standardization of communication for IoT applications, a lot of work needs to be done to accomplish complete interoperability across sensors, hardware, network and the software elements that form the IoT system for any given application.

Q. How ready is India’s tech eco-system to develop and deploy IoT solutions?

A: Gone are the days when India used to lag in terms of technology as compared to the rest of the world. Today, India is one of the best countries in the world in terms of IoT server/App software design and development. In terms of hardware, the country is at par with the design capabilities of western world.

However, the few areas where India is still lacking are its ability to manufacture printed circuit boards (PCBs) at very small form factors suitable for IoT and the price competitiveness of these boards compared to China. PCB component costs are high in the country due to lack of volume production. In addition, many software technologies used for building quality cloud services are not developed in India. Currently, these are some of the major challenges in developing cost effective and high quality IoT solutions in India.

Q. Do you see the Open Source phenomenon play an important role in the IoT arena?

A: As most of the innovations in IoT is being done by startups or young organizations, there is a huge open source play happening at all levels. IoT demands cost-effective solutions and that is only possible with open source technologies.

Q. How do you see the role, technologies like AI/ML will play in the evolution of IoT solutions?

A: AI/ML are among the top three technologies in the IoT space. Although these have existed for a long period of time, their potential is just being exploited for IoT applications. As IoT primarily relies on data generated by various elements comprising the application space, it becomes extremely critical for technologies such as AI/ML to efficiently analyze the data generated.

Q. What’s your opinion on the state of security available for IoT solutions?

A: Security of information has always been a point of great importance for all types of communication. It is even more so with IoT, especially when sensors and processes generate lots of information related to an individual, thing, home, factory or business. This information must be protected from being used for malicious activities. While IoT communications over the cellular networks are secure, a host of other communications over proprietary networks are vulnerable to attacks. Standardization is having an impact on the overall security of an IoT system.

Q. W.r.t. edge vs cloud – where do you think will we see faster development in the next year or two?

A: While the cloud has highly evolved, the edge is extremely vulnerable. Over the next few years, we will see a lot of development around the edge in terms of technology.

Q. What are the key technologies missing, which when made available, will accelerate adoption of IoT across the globe?

A: Standardized protocols with highly interoperable devices and software will accelerate the adoption of IoT across the globe.

Q. Any thoughts on where to go edge versus where to go cloud?

A: This is a task of the system architect who creates the blue print of an IoT system for a given application.

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