The Path From Hardware to Experience
Creating a valuable IoT solution is not as simple as adopting one technology. The magic of IoT is possible because of the many underlying technologies that work together to solve a problem.
From bottom to top, IoT is made up of sensors, hardware, connectivity, cloud, analytics, and the end-user experience. When it’s time to implement IoT, it is not the adoption of one single technology; it’s a handful of new technologies—each requiring a domain expert. For most of our customers, these new technologies remain outside of their core business and internal competencies. Doing it right, fast, and cost effectively requires a different collaborative approach from multiple IoT partners.
In many cases, enterprises can properly solve this problem by adopting the right tooling to quickly move from sensors to a real, tangible application. The right tooling can help accelerate time to market and dramatically reduce cost. We can demonstrate what this tooling looks like with the Losant Enterprise IoT Platform combined with a variety of our enterprise partners.
IoT applications start with the sensors and hardware. This layer of the IoT stack is critical because the hardware layer is the source of the data. In industrial, the hardware at this layer can be Modbus-enabled machines, or from an OEM’s perspective, the PLC within the machines themselves that are already generating data. The actual hardware and sensors deployed are directly related to the problem that needs to be solved.
For example, if an OEM wanted to enable predictive maintenance using temperature and vibration analysis, the sensor could be an Industrial Wireless Vibration And Temperature Sensor, which can be provided by National Control Devices (NCD). NCD provides a wide variety of industrial sensors and hardware making it seamless to monitor and control across many use cases.
The hardware layer is generally composed of many different types of sensors and hardware that all generate data to be passed to the next layer to derive value.
Each layer is flexible. The edge layer encompasses many different scenarios—most importantly, it’s where the compute begins. Capable devices can collect sensor data and send it directly to the cloud. On the other hand, there could be multiple devices spread across an environment reporting to a central gateway to communicate with the cloud.
Let’s look at an example of what the edge layer may look like: Electric Imp provides a cloud-based development environment and a tooling ecosystem to make deploying to millions of devices as trivial as a proof of concept. One could adopt this platform to quickly push data to the cloud.
For more information about how Electric Imp and Losant work together, I’ll be doing a 30-minute, hardware to experience workshop at IoT Tech Expo.
When choosing a network, the environment is the biggest factor at play. For example, some assets may require cellular because it needs consistent coverage while in motion, which can easily be enabled through a platform like Hologram.
In an industrial environment, Ethernet provides the most reliability to ensure no downtime. A small cost-efficient device in a remote location may choose to leverage a low-power wide area network (LPWAN) for its capabilities. Generally, choosing the right network requires answering the following:
- • What’s currently available?
- • What’s the cost per device?
- • How much data is each device sending
The answers to the above will point to the right network. Pure connectivity providers like Sigfox, Pod Group, and Hologram provide the bridge between the hardware and the cloud.
Once data is coming into the cloud, the next step is to react. There is so much to do with the data once it’s in the cloud. Applications need to be equipped to react to data in real time, make quick decisions, and even send data or commands back to a device. This is the purpose of the Losant Workflow Engine.
With the Losant Visual Workflow Engine, one can quickly build and deploy logic in the cloud. This logic can encompass all the needs of our IoT application; bi-directional communication, alerting, etc.
The workflow engine also enables the creation of a flexible data pipeline. With a few clicks, data can be pushed to a data warehouse or easily integrated into other services. Best of all, because the environment is entirely drag and drop, building logic is fast and enables non-technical domain experts to solve real problems.
The experience is the most important layer. This is where the users or stakeholders of a solution consume the data. However, here is where most tooling ends but Losant really begins.
Once data is streaming to the cloud, and logic is defined, enterprises need to quickly build applications for their users. This user could be a variety of individuals; a customer who wants to enable new revenue streams or internal employees who wish to increase productivity. Losant End-User Experiences enable the deployment of custom-branded solutions to end users.
At the core, Losant Experiences allows the creation of custom APIs and UIs. A generated Losant Experience contains a custom authentication model for an application, user roles, permissions, and much more. Best of all, this is all hosted with the Losant platform.
From hardware to cloud, choosing the right tools is a key enabler to success. The right tools allow enterprises to focus on their core and adopt IoT industry standards from subject matter experts. With the Losant Enterprise IoT Platform and our suite of enterprise partners, enterprises truly obtain an end-to-end solution that can deliver applications quickly, securely, and at scale.
Losant is exhibiting at IoT Tech Expo North America at booth #390. Learn more about how to engage with Losant by visiting here. You can also hear Taron discussing this topic at the event within the Developing for the IoT conference track. His session ‘From Hardware to Cloud to User in 30 minutes‘ will take place on November 28 at 2:20pm.