Wireless Tech Applications

Wireless

Wireless tech applications are not a one-size-fits-all situation or solution, and through my consultations with clients, it has been my pleasure to customize an approach that applies specifically to each client and their unique challenge.

Ever since Optimal Design was named one of the top 10 fastest growing Internet of Things (IoT) solution provider companies, I have had numerous opportunities to discuss IoT projects with potential clients. Many of these clients do not specialize in wireless connectivity or the cloud. Instead, they are experts in their respective industries, such as industrial motors, ovens, toys, and medical devices.

During these IoT discussions, I’ve been asked multiple times, “what is your favorite wireless technology to use for IoT?” In other conversations, a client has requested “a solution that uses a cellular wireless link.” Both examples of client interaction are based on the client’s personal experience with wireless technologies, (mainly cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth).

But wait! There’s more.

What these clients do not realize is that there are many IoT wireless technologies and protocols that are viable solutions that are not mainstream. Some examples include LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, Z-Wave, and 6loWPAN.

Accordingly, my response to my clients is always the same: “At Optimal Design, we do not have a predetermined favorite wireless technology. We will work with you to understand the business problem you need to solve, and we will recommend the wireless technology that solves your problem.”

The flowchart or anatomy of a solution looks something like this:

A typical business problem often includes a need to collect sensor data, send the data to the cloud, and then act on that data. Once we understand the business issue, it is decomposed, or broken down, at a device level where the key parameters include:

  • the cost of the edge device
  • a cost target for cloud access
  • the amount of data to be collected
  • the frequency at which the data is sent to the cloud
  • the power requirements of the edge device
  • the distance from the edge device to a gateway or IP access point

Once we have determined these variables, the recommendation for a type of wireless technology can be provided. In more cases than not, the best solution is different than what the client thought they needed for their project.

Optimal Design is versed in designing solutions through using multiple wireless technologies, rather than applying a universal “cookie cutter” recommendation for every client. The criteria for our recommendations aren’t based on our favorite wireless solution, the easiest technology to implement, or the technology for which we have the most experience. We choose the wireless technology that best solves the client’s business problem.

What does that look like in practice? Which wireless solution is best?

I’m glad you asked.

If the solution requires sending a video stream from the edge device to the cloud, cellular or Wi-Fi are good choices because of the bandwidth that can be provided by these technologies. However, if the solution for the client is to send the availability status of a parking spot on a city street using a battery-operated device (the data frequency is low and low power usage is important) LoRaWAN or NB-IoT are more cost-effective choices than cellular and Wi-Fi.

Sound good to you?

If you and your team have identified an opportunity within your process, or would benefit from a third set of eyes, please come and speak with us at Optimal Design. Share with us your business problem, and we will partner with you to devise, design, and build an innovative IoT solution.

Joe Kreidler
Vice President of Product Development Services
Optimal Design Co.