The IoT continues to grow in size and reach – promising productivity, convenience, and safety gains in just about all walks of life and work. Statista market research estimates that the global IoT market will be worth around 1.6 trillion US dollars by 2025.1 This impressive figure belies the fact that the IoT – thus far at least – has failed in many instances to live up to all the hype and expectations. The fact of the matter is that IoT projects are rarely plain sailing. According to Gartner research analyst Ganesh Ramamoorthy, eight out of ten IoT projects fail before they are even launched.2 In addition, it takes 18 months on average to create a market-ready IoT solution.
That is a long time in such a fast-moving space. Digitalization certainly has picked up speed in recent years. Many organizations had already embarked on their digital transformation journey before the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is no doubt that the crisis has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies worldwide. The need to convert analog products and services into digital offerings and shift customer interaction to the digital world has never been as pressing.
Unpacking IoT complexity
So why does it take so long to develop an IoT product? In a nutshell, IoT projects are complex. Developing an IoT solution involves a lot more than just sticking a SIM into a device to add connectivity. IoT devices need to “see”, “hear”, “feel”, “understand”, and possibly even “smell” their surroundings. They can only do this with the help of microelectronics. Electronic chips have the ability to give human-like senses to IoT “things”. This enables them to autonomously process information, make decisions, and set chains of action in motion. Semiconductor company Infineon refers to this as the sense-compute-actuate-connect-secure functional flow – as described in the following:
- Sensors mark the starting point of any IoT system as they capture environmental information and convert it into digital data
- Microcontrollers are the nerve center of an IoT device, processing this data and generating control signals
- Actuators set things in motion by converting the control signals into actions
- Connectivity is the heartbeat of the IoT, linking all of these “things” to each other and to the cloud
- Security solutions for devices, networks, and data create the all-important consumer trust in the digital world by protecting data transmission and ensuring the integrity of the connected devices and networks
It goes without saying that not all IoT device or service providers are experts in the sense-compute-actuate-connect-secure continuum. A home appliance manufacturer, for instance, might be specialized in refrigeration or induction technologies, but is unlikely to know a lot about hardware-based security or robust connectivity. And in many cases, newcomers to the IoT space have neither the in-house resources nor the budget to invest in dedicated security or connectivity capabilities. The question is, how can they balance the need for speed with the equally pressing need for reliable connectivity, contextual awareness, and robust security?
Fast track to IoT success
One way to fast-track this process is by partnering with IoT companies such as Infineon Technologies. Infineon has moved beyond the delivery of individual semiconductor products to deliver end-to-end solutions that span the full IoT functional spectrum, blending these with the added bonus of Software as a Service for complementary analytical insights. This means that customers can tap into Infineon’s synergized expertise for ready-to-run IoT solutions that cover all functional blocks so they don’t have to invest in developing security or connectivity know-how themselves.
Reliable connectivity, contextual awareness and robust security
According to Infineon, reliable connectivity, contextual awareness and robust security are the three key success factors in designing future-proof IoT systems. Today’s consumer expects fast, stable connections and excellent reception quality. To provide this, connectivity solutions must support a growing number of frequency bands and features in a constrained footprint without compromising antenna performance. Infineon leverages innovations such as antenna tuning to meet these conflicting needs, boosting antenna efficiency for the highest data rates, excellent signal quality, and longer battery lives. 5G technology is another key vehicle in the move to deliver ultra-fast and reliable wireless communications in a gigabit-connected society. Rounding out these abilities, advanced analytics and “learning” software are helping to improve today’s connectivity products for an even better end user experience.
Infineon’s XENSIV™ sensor family is meeting evolving user demands for effortless, interconnected, intuitive IoT experiences. XENSIV™ sensors enable things to “see”, “hear”, “feel”, “understand”, and even “smell” their surroundings. These data streams are processed by microcontrollers and turned into control signals. Actuators then convert the control signals into contextual actions.
Moving on to security, Infineon offers easy-to-integrate hardware-based security products and solutions such as its OPTIGA™ family based on established standards for rapid deployment and interoperability. This enables companies to accelerate the development and delivery of IoT products and service models without having to invest in dedicated security know-how or build their own secure facilities.
Bringing it all together – at speed and scale
Assuming all the connectivity, sensing and security building blocks are in place, designers then need to tackle the speed challenge. How can they accelerate the process, get their products to market quickly, and get a head-start on the competition? Here again, Infineon has the answer.
Well aware that missing deadlines isn’t an option, the company focuses heavily on reducing time-to-market and giving customers the all-important speed advantage. Acting as a trusted partner in everything IoT, the company works hard to make customer design and production processes as fast and easy as possible.
Take software development, for example. It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process if builders have the right tools and solutions available. Infineon has integrated its AIROC™ wireless and microcontroller solutions to work together and do the heavy lifting, so customers can focus on designing connected, low-power devices with ease. Engineers using popular cloud services can rely on Infineon for the middleware so they don’t need custom code, which translates into further time gains. Infineon’s ModusToolbox™, for example, is a modern software development platform that gives customers instant access to a sophisticated software library that adds speed and quality to development processes.
Another key element in the speed equation is the regulatory factor. Compliance with regulatory requirements is essential to be able to sell products worldwide. Infineon’s software tools and documentation resources support customers through the testing process – whether they are aiming for FCC or CE approval. A rich repository of regulatory resources and tools for microcontrollers, Wi-Fi solutions, and Bluetooth® products are all designed to help customers get it right first time – every time.
Moving to the pre-launch stage, Infineon has also developed tools that simplify the feedback process during alpha and beta testing so customers can quickly identify and resolve connectivity, reliability, and security issues. This frees customers up to focus on the core development process. For instance, the company’s IoT Network Intelligence (INI) solution supports remote telemetry so bugs can be fixed before they impact the customer experience. Its Mobile App Intelligence (MAI) solution provides the same visibility for Wi-Fi onboarding. Perfect for alpha/beta testing, INI also allows developers to remotely manage and update products in the field.
In summary, by combining microelectronics spanning the full functional flow with intelligent analytics and smart development tools and resources, companies can scrape weeks – if not months – off typical IoT development timelines by reducing the complexity inherent in delivering IoT projects at speed and scale.