The common perception about the Internet of Things (IoT) is that it's work in progress that's transcending into a working model. In this environment, multiple players can contribute solutions to create a holistic package that even users without technical expertise can quickly put to work.
Here is an example of how the two key building blocks — a sensor or IoT node and IoT infrastructure — can come together to create an end-to-end solution.
Part I: IoT Node
Lapis Semiconductor, an affiliate company of Rohm Semiconductor, has developed a soil environment sensor for social infrastructure and agricultural monitoring applications. The semiconductor-based sensor can remotely monitor soil conditions much faster and without the need to visit individual sensor nodes.
The compact sensor measures pH (acidity), electrical conductivity (EC), and soil temperature. Lapis has incorporated the temperature sensing capabilities with the newly developed pH and EC sensors.
A view of the semiconductor-based design of the soil environment sensor. Image courtesy of Rohm Semiconductor.
It's important to note that the conventional soil sensing methods involve sampling multiple locations and these samples are measured for pH and EC using special equipment. Between the process of collecting multiple samples and assessing them, the results on soil conditions can take as much as a few weeks to receive. This new sensor eliminates the need for such a waiting period.
The soil environment sensor from Lapis boasts low-power operation and, to ensure physical maintenance for extended periods, it uses solar panels to generate power. Moreover, Lapis offers wireless communication modules that enable these IoT nodes to be paired to a central node across a range of 1km.
The sensor design is optimized for smart agriculture applications. Image courtesy of Rohm Semiconductor.
Now if a farmer wants to deploy this soil environment sensor, what will it take for him to actually make this work? Apparently, a lot more than a sensor. The next section will delve into the key ingredients of a complete IoT network to make devices like soil sensors work.
Part II: IoT Infrastructure
The above-mentioned IoT node — a soil sensor — still requires an appropriate infrastructure to provide the optimum value in smart agriculture and other applications. That includes a wireless or wired connectivity platform, a secure cloud service, and a back office system.
So the companies like LPRS Connected Solutions (LPRS CS) are providing complete packages that encompass key infrastructure building blocks for IoT system integrators and service providers. The UK-based company is offering an end-to-end monitoring solution that includes wireless sensor hardware, connectivity, and a web-based back office.
First and foremost, it allows system integrators and service providers to quickly deploy IoT networks without spending long periods of time between proof of concept and final roll-out. And these outfits are not obliged to have the expertise of electronics, wireless, and cloud computing under one roof.
The cloud-based monitoring platform features secure web-browser access, an easy-to-use reporting system, and a user-configurable alerting engine.