From Safety to Design Simplification: IoT Design Takes Another Leap Forward

July 09, 2021 by Jake Hertz

Recently IoT has been at the forefront of everyone's mind, especially for Renesas, Silicon Labs, and Nordic Semiconductor. What IoT innovations have they come up with lately?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is undoubtedly one of the most prominent buzzword technologies out right now, and for a good reason. With some reports predicting the global market to exceed over $1.5 trillion by 2025, it’s clearly an in-demand and lucrative field with no shortage of investment and developments. 


A bar graph showing the potential growth in IoT devices

A bar graph showing the potential growth in IoT devices. Screenshot used courtesy of Statista


The past 30 days have seen many IoT space developments, most notably coming from Renesas, Nordic Semiconductor, and Silicon Labs. This article will discuss each company’s recent contributions to the field and how they might affect the industry moving forward. 


Renesas Develops Modular Design to IoT 

Earlier this week, Renesas made headlines with the introduction of its new modular IoT development platform.

Dubbed Quick-Connect IoT, the new system was created to significantly decrease design complexity and time to market by allowing for rapid prototyping of IoT devices. The new platform will consist of various standardized boards and interfaces, allowing designers to plug and play (PnP) with a suite of sensors and connectivity solutions. These include air quality sensors, flow sensors, bio-sensing, time of flight, temperature, and more. 


The Quick-Connect IoT system comes with modular sensors and connectivity solutions.

The Quick-Connect IoT system comes with modular sensors and connectivity solutions. Image from Renesas


Part of this system was developed by Digilent, who helped by creating a new expanded I2C Pmod Interface, Type 6A. 

Every Quick-Connect MCU board will have two Pmod connectors. One connector will be for a sensor Pmod, while the second is for a communications module. Currently, over 25 MCU development boards are compatible with the new Pmod Type 6A standard. 

Another company making a splash in IoT development, especially in more creative applications, is Nordic Semiconductor's System-in-Package (SiP).


Nordic SiP Finds Value in Japan 

Nordic Semiconductor has recently announced that Braveridge, a Japanese IoT company, has found success using Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP in a new gas pip remote monitoring system. 

The new system consists of multiple end devices installed across a gas pipe network, each consisting of two pressure sensors, a temperature and humidity sensor, and an nRF9160 SiP. 

The system leverages the SiP for its LTE-M connectivity for data transmission, built-in GPS for precise location information, and its 64 MHz Arm Cortex-M33 processor. The processor comes with 1 MB Flash and 256 KB RAM, allowing for on-edge computing and rapid response to GPS location requests. 


The Braveridge gas pipe monitoring system.

The Braveridge gas pipe monitoring system. Image from Nordic Semiconductor


Braveridege cites integrating an application processor onto the SiP as a central drawing point to the nRF9160. According to Braveridge's CEO Yasunari Kohashi, "this eliminates the long development lead-time and repeated bug issues common amongst these modular solutions" that use an external processor. 

By combining both Braveridge's IoT platform with Nordic's SiP, this duo created a unique IoT solution for monitoring a potential safety hazard. 

However, these two companies aren't the only ones teaming up for IoT solutions.


Silicon Labs and Wirepas Team Up 

Last month, Silicon Labs announced a collaboration with Wirepas, which resulted in a new combined hardware and software solution for large-scale mesh networks. 

Together, the companies combined Wirepas Massive with modules and SoCs, specifically Silicon Lab's BG21 and BG22 SoCs. 

Wirepas Massive is the company's software for providing wireless connectivity for enterprise IoT. By running on standard 2.4GHz radio, the solution allows every connected device to be completely autonomous in self-organizing and healing, making the networks virtually fail-proof.

According to the companies, combining this mesh technology with the low power hardware offerings from Silicon Labs can result in increased mesh installations scalability, high reliability, and interference tolerance for applications like asset tracking and monitoring. 


Eyes on the Future

Thanks to each of these company's efforts, it becomes clear how the efficacy of their hardware for novel applications is helping to further the development of IoT. 

With more money constantly being invested into the IoT, this current rate of development likely continues for the foreseeable future. It will be interesting to see what new tech comes out that's involved in making these IoT solutions possible.




Interested in other IoT developments? Catch up on the articles down below.

In Celebration of Earth Day: IoT May be the “Greenest” Type of Embedded Design

Two Up-and-Coming Companies Collaborate to Make Battery-Less IoT a Sustainable Reality

TDK Sensor Shows How Capacitive MEMS and Low-power IoT Go Hand in Hand