The challenge of IoT and connected devices is getting data from the device sensor to the cloud, that is, getting access through the internet to where that data is used, processed, and stored. The ubiquitous use of WiFi and Bluetooth through smartphones, along with the widespread availability of cell towers and public WiFi access points, provide more direct access to the cloud for IoT sensors than ever before. IoT developers have many options in designing products, as they choose between sensors, evaluate power needs, WiFi coverage, data transmission rates, and related costs.
Sensor direct to cloud (smart device with WiFi)
The sensor can connect directly to the cloud if the sensor itself is a smart device enabled with WiFi. Cloud connect sensors can be a solution for in home, consumer IoT products that connect through the user’s home internet. For example, the device Hatch Baby Grow, a Smart Changing Pad & Connected Scale, uses WiFi to transmit data from the sensors in the changing pad scale to the home internet. The parent and pediatrician can track cloud-based information through either an Android or iOS application.
Sensor to gateway to cloud
In some applications it is optimal to send the sensor data to a gateway, then the gateway transmits data efficiency to the cloud. For very long distance with low data rate, using a gateway can extend the sensor’s battery life and offer a good alternative. Depending on the application needs, the gateway can range from simple relay systems to “smart” platforms that perform more compute intensive functions. IoT usages, like parking lot sensors and desk utilization sensors, rely on gateways to transmit the data. In some cases, the gateway can be your cell phone.
Sensor to cell phone to cloud
WiFi and Bluetooth enabled smartphones can also link data from IoT applications to the cloud. Sometimes the smartphone transmits the sensor data directly to the cloud. In other IoT applications, the smartphone transmits the sensor data to a router, which in turn connects to the cloud. Scanadu Scout collects heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature information from the user. The data is uploaded to the user’s smartphone through an application that in turn sends the data through the cloud to the user’s physician.
Getting data into the cloud
Factors to consider in planning your IoT strategy include: how much data will be transferred, how far the data source is from the internet, how much power is required, and how high the cost is of cellular service if any. The widespread use of smartphones and the choice of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radio standards by IoT developers open up more and more configurations to the future Internet of Things.