IoT connectivity—a term we use to refer to the various methods of connecting to IoT devices—is an increasingly vast and diverse market.
From applications to sensors and even network routers, there is a seemingly unending array of connectivity options to tie the physical world to the digital one.
As with any situation where there is a great deal of choice, choosing the right solutions for your needs can become increasingly difficult.
And, as the world moves increasingly towards an interconnected and automated future, finding those ideal solutions is becoming more important than ever.
It can help to break down the features of a given connectivity solution and compare the individual aspects, rather than trying to judge the value of the whole. In this post, we’re going to go over the most useful aspects to focus on.
Of course, before any attempt to judge the merits of a solution are made, the overall suitability of that solution for the task at hand must be considered. To give a very simple example; you would not use an IoT router to automate lights, just as you wouldn’t use an IoT sensor to connect to a network.
Choosing the most suitable connectivity solution will typically involve more nuanced decision-making than our example, but it is important to establish that the solution you go with will fulfill your needs before worrying about which is the best option.
Power Delivery and Consumption
Many IoT devices are wireless and get their power from batteries. This is important to bear in mind, since a wireless IoT device places an inherent limit of the longevity of a device. Or, rather, on how long that device can function without intervention.
That being said, there may be logistical issues with using an IoT device that requires wiring in, which could push the balance in favor of dealing with the occasional battery change in the long term.
Most IoT devices will connect to your network wirelessly, which raises the question of coverage and range. If your device is going to be on the outskirts of your network’s effective range, you will need to take the range of the device itself into account.
It may also be cost-effective to expand your network coverage regardless, especially if you plan to add more devices at or beyond the current limitations.
For devices that use cellular connectivity, you will need to ensure that you have sufficient coverage in that arena, as it is not as simple to extend cellular coverage as it is for something like WiFi.
While new technologies and increasingly generous service plans are making this issue rare, there is still the matter of bandwidth to consider. IoT devices use bandwidth on your network, and some more than others.
In some cases, there may be issues of data caps with service providers, or congestion on local networks. In either case, you may need to consider the expected bandwidth usage of your IoT device before purchasing. It is also worth noting that, for cellular networks, the type of network may affect the performance of your devices.
Beside the obvious immediate benefits of IoT connectivity, a longer term benefit is the potential for scalability as your network expands. More IoT devices are being developed every day, and it is a safe bet that, once you have found a use for IoT in your business, you will find more useful devices to add to your system.
Knowing of any potential compatibility issues that may arise in the future not only could, but should, affect your purchasing decisions in this area.
More important than future-proofing your IoT network is the need to make sure any new devices you intend to add are compatible with your existing network and systems. Compatibility in this sense can come in many forms, from the standard of WiFi used, to compatibility with the IoT hub you use.
While there is no shortage of IoT connectivity solutions to choose from, a form of decision paralysis can sometimes get in the way of making the best choice, especially if there are schedules to keep.
By carefully thinking about the options before you, and breaking down their individual features into relevant categories, you can often turn a difficult choice into a very obvious one.