Key IoT Technologies Comparison
IoT is a network of physical devices connected to the Internet that can communicate with each other. When it comes to IoT deployment, an IoT developer has a plethora of options to select from.
But not all technology is suitable for a certain project and no technology is a single-size solution. In the end, the final choice of connectivity technology for a project depends upon the project’s demands and requirements.
In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of common IoT technologies as well as their major industrial and commercial use cases. The technologies we will be comparing are:
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Some of the major characteristics of each technology are shown below:
Bluetooth Low Energy
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology is a low-power wireless solution that operates in the 2.4 GHz ISM band. It has expanded over the years and now provides tremendous flexibility in range, bandwidth, and communications topologies to address different IoT applications.
Bluetooth radios are classified into two types: Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (LE). Bluetooth Classic (or BR/EDR) is the first Bluetooth radio, and it is still commonly used in streaming applications, particularly audio streaming.
Bluetooth LE, on the other hand, has always been focused on low-bandwidth applications involving infrequent data exchange between devices.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is compatible with Bluetooth-enabled wireless headphones, digital signals, car stereos, fitness trackers, smartwatches, and hardware devices such as light bulbs.
Most smartphones and tablets today are Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) compliant, which means they can connect with Bluetooth-enabled wireless headphones, digital signs, car stereos, fitness trackers, smartwatches, and hardware devices such as beacons.
The key advantages and disadvantages of BLE are as follows:
- low power consumption and long battery life
- Low cost and readily available hardware
- Useful for smaller data transfer in IoT applications
- Cannot be used for high data rates.
- Short-range only supports 20 meters in LOS (Line of Sight).
- Open to interception and attack due to wireless transmission/reception.
Bluetooth LE is best suited for applications that require a regular data transfer and save a substantial amount of battery power. Therefore, BLE is most popular in health and fitness devices, smart lighting systems, real-time location systems, and indoor navigation applications.
Lora (Long Range) is a non-cellular long-range and low-power wireless technology. It is a wireless radio modulation technique derived from Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS) technology. This technique encodes information on radio waves using chirp pulses like the way dolphins and bats communicate!
Lora can be used to connect sensors, machines, devices, animals, people, etc wirelessly to the cloud.
Implementing Lora has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Some of them are as follows:
- Ground-up LPWAN design (low battery consumption, long-range, seamless cloud integration)
- Wireless, cost-effective, and fast deployment.
- Open business models (public, private, open communities)
- Not ideal for large payloads, limited to 100 bytes.
- Not ideal for applications requiring low latency.
- Requires a gateway to work.
Primary Use Case
LoRa devices have revolutionized the Internet of Things (IoT) by enabling data communication over a long-range while using very little power.
The major use cases of LoRa are water and gas metering, asset tracking, smoke detectors, waste management, fault management, smoke detectors.
Narrow band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a standards-based, low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology that has been created to enable a variety of new IoT devices and applications. Most recent devices that are compatible with the 4G LTE architecture will support NB-IoT.
When compared to GPRS, NB-IoT provides substantially greater coverage and better indoor penetration. It also optimises user device power consumption, system capacity, and spectrum efficiency, particularly in deep coverage.
Furthermore, it has a battery life of more than ten years for a variety of use situations. This makes NB-IoT ideal for simple applications and low bandwidth requirements.
- Leverage existing 4G coverage.
- Improved coverage for distance and penetration
- Improved battery life
- A limited number of device types available
- Applicable to niche use cases i.e., Very low data rate applications.
- Most suited to static applications due to lack of cellular handover between calls.
The main use cases of NB-IoT include smart agriculture, smart city, and smart meter applications.
The key advantages and disadvantages of NB-IoT are as follows:
LTE- M (Cat M1)
Cat-M (formally known as LTE Cat-M1) is widely regarded as the second generation of LTE chips designed for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. This technology allows Internet of Things devices to connect directly to a 4G network without the use of a gateway and while running on batteries.
Cat M1- also enables the deployment of low-power wide-area technology inside a licensed spectrum, which improves security and privacy. This is especially beneficial when the data being communicated is sensitive, such as during military operations or law enforcement investigations.
Key advantages and disadvantages of Cat- M1 are as follows:
- Enough bandwidth to support voice calls, narrow-band data, and SMS.
- Improved coverage for distance and penetration
- Supports mobile applications.
- Applicable to niche markets
- A limited number of channels.
- Lower data throughput
Cat M1 is a suitable choice for IoT applications with low to medium data and usage, as it has a lower battery and power consumption. Cat-M1’s primary use case includes logistics, healthcare devices as a back haul communications channel, and automotive applications.
Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that connects computers (laptops and desktops), mobile devices (smartphones and wearable), and other devices (printers and video cameras) to the Internet.
The term “Wi-Fi” refers to any Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) that adheres to the IEEE 802.11 standard. It typically operates in the 2.4 and 5 GHz ISM Bands, however, later versions can also operate in other frequency bands.
The key advantages and disadvantages of Wi-Fi are as follows:
- Simplified and efficient deployment
- Ubiquitous mobility (open roaming
- Low cost of infrastructure and devices
- Limited coverage range
- Limited security
- High energy consumption
Primary Use Cases
Wi-Fi is popular in applications involved with transferring large files and higher-bandwidth data transfer applications, such as video streaming. In the case of IoT applications, Wi-Fi is widely used for devices that need a direct connection to the internet.
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ETM Pacific offers a range of services, complementary to its hardware providing users the options of a ‘sensor to cloud’ vertically integrated industrial IoT solution. Contact us to start the conversation.