Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Internet of Things? What is an example?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices, embedded with electronics and software that can exchange data across the Internet. An example is a coolroom temperature monitor which provides SMS and email alarming when a fault occurs, and which also logs historical temperature records.
There were 8.4 billion IoT class devices installed worldwide as of December 2017.
What are the "Things" in IoT?
IoT things include sensors, controllers, actuators, edge computing, networking, device management, connectivity management, data management, applications and cloud computing.
What are the advantages of the Internet of Things?
IoT can be used for home automation, smart cities, smart agriculture, smart power grid, smarter transport, smarter workplace, performance tracking and smarter supply chain.
IoT provides more information for better decisions across a range of industries. This can be to improve product quality in manufacturing, device predictive maintenance, improved environmental management, tracking human health, reducing energy usage and improving supply chain tracking.
What is Smart Agriculture using IoT?
IoT can be used for environmental monitoring on farms. This includes weather, dam level, river levels, water trough levels, soil moisture, artificial leaf climate monitoring and water metering.
Low Powered Wide Area Network communications allow for 10 kilometre communications of simple key value pair data. ie. water trough level = 75%.
How can we best use IoT for Smart Cities?
IoT can be used to monitor power, water, car traffic, people traffic, local climate monitoring and building energy management.
A regional example is the 30,000 wireless water meters in Mackay, QLD. This uploaded water usage every hour. Leaks and high water usage can be responded to quickly.
Building sensor data can be centralised in cloud computing for more efficient building energy usage strategies such as pre cooling buildings earlier in the summer to prevent start of business energy spikes in usage.
What is the Industrial Internet of Things?
The Industrial Internet provides a way to get better visibility and insights into the companies operation and assets through integration of machine sensors, middleware, software, and back-end cloud compute and storage systems.
Several factors help IIoT like cheap and accurate sensors, self aware edge computers, big data analytics available, predictive maintenance is possible and finer tolerance manufacturing reduces faults. These small improvement add up to big savings and an improved bottom line.
How does it work?
Sensors/Devices: Sensors or devices are a key component that helps you to collect live data from the surrounding environment. This data may have various levels of complexities. It could be a simple temperature monitoring sensor, or it may be in the form of the complex automation system.
A device may have various types of sensors which perform multiple tasks apart from sensing. inlcuding GPS and accelerometers.
Connectivity: All collected data is sent to a cloud infrastructure. The sensors are connected to the cloud using various mediums of communications. These communication mediums include local low powered wide area networks, mobile, or satellite networks.
Data Processing: Once that data is collected, and it gets to the cloud, the software performs processing on the gathered data. This process can be just checking the temperature, reading on devices like coolrooms or heaters. However, it can sometimes also be very complex.
User Interface: The information needs to be available to the end-user in some way which can be achieved by triggering alarms on their phones or sending them notification through email or text message. The user sometimes might need an interface which actively checks their IoT system.
How far away from my Gateway can my Devices be?
In the world of marketing, companies are keen to advertise the highest possible number. In radio terms that means free-air or Line-of-Sight, which represent the best possible conditions. Needless to say, those conditions are unlikely to be met in real life.
The 15km figure you often hear being mentioned originates from a series of measurements conducted under perfect conditions. Obviously, this can be achieved under favorable conditions. In urban areas and in typical applications, you might expect much shorter distance. In fact, that figure could shrink to a kilometre or two.
Everything is application specific - see this record breaking distance of 702km reached by using only 25mW (14dBm) of transmitting power. Note that the gateway was in a weather balloon at 38km above the earth.
You probably won't be attempting to break any records but there are some factors to bear in mind if you when maximising range:
In radio, height is everything. You want some good, well-matched antennas, with a few obstacles.
Power helps. why some methods don't work well (a few mW for typical Bluetooth connection).
Low frequencies i.e. longer wavelengths fare better. This is partly because they penetrate better (depending on the medium) but also because the antennas often are bigger and therefore collect more of the RF energy.
Space is good. Avoid large bodies of water, lumps of metal, dense bush, masses of concrete or lots of walls.
Don’t expect success with both ends sitting on or near the ground (the earth is curved after all)... and factor in the competition for (radio) space with other users.
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