Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced the industry’s smallest operational amplifier (op amp) and low-power comparators at 0.64 mm2. Being the first amplifiers in the compact X2SON package, the new TLV9061 op amp and TLV7011 family of comparators enable engineers to reduce their system size and cost.
The noticeable feature of the new amplifiers is that their size does not affect the performance. They offer high performance in a variety of Internet of Things (IoT), personal electronics and industrial applications, including mobile phones, wearables, optical modules, motor drives, smart grid and battery-powered systems.
As part of TI’s small-size amplifier portfolio these new devices enable engineers to design smaller systems, while maintaining high performance. They allow possibility of industry-leading package options and many of the world’s smallest op amps and comparators.
With a high gain bandwidth (GBW) of 10 MHz, fast slew rate at 6.5 V/µs and low-noise spectral density of 10 nV/√Hz, the TLV9061 op amp is designed for use in wide-bandwidth, high-performance systems. Additionally, both devices support rail-to-rail inputs with low-voltage operation down to 1.8 V, enabling ease-of-use in battery-powered applications.
In addition to its tiny size, the TLV9061 op amp also features integrated EMI filtering inputs. This helps provide resilient performance for systems prone to RF noise, while significantly reducing the need for external discrete circuitry.
Two times lower offset drift and typical input bias across a full temperature range, -40 to 125 degrees Celsius, creates a more precise signal chain solution compared to other small devices. With power as low as 335 nA and fast propagation delay down to 260 ns, the TLV7011 family of nano-power comparators enable low-power systems to monitor signals and respond quickly.
This year is as good a year as any to start thinking about ways to deploy (IoT) technologies in your small business. According to Vodafone’s IoT Barometer 2017/18, IoT is currently used by 29% of organizations across all industries. Some industries, such as retail, healthcare, and manufacturing, have been leading the pack when it comes to adoption rates. Other industries, such as energy and utilities, or the automotive industry, are catching up quickly.
The overall picture shows that you can start using IoT today and still not be too late for the party. In fact, you might be getting there at the time when things are heating up. According to the Cradlepoint Business Intelligence Report “The State of IoT 2017-2018”, 69% of companies already use IoT or plan to do so in the next 12 months. If you see your small business among the two-thirds of businesses who are getting serious with IoT, here are some things you should keep in mind.
Think About Staffing
The Internet of Things is a disruptive technology. By deciding to use it, chances are that you’re signing up for a change in the way you do business. That’s great because the desired outcome of disruption is an improvement. But as technology allows us to get more efficient, it also decreases the demand for some types of work. This usually leads to the elimination of lower-paying jobs, and creation of new, higher-paying ones.
But you shouldn’t start laying off people right away. In fact, you might not even need to fire anyone at all. Your business can grow and even out the number amount of people it needs. You can promote people or train them for the new, advanced jobs. The way to handle this is up to you and your circumstance. However, it’s important to understand that you’ll need someone with a completely new skill set who will guide your business through the implementation.
Many new professions emerging from IoT don’t have a job title yet. You can even look at websites that provide sample cover letters, and you won’t find a single reference. Still, the position that’s critical for you to fill early on is what is sometimes described as an IoT Business Designer. Simply put, you’ll need a person who will find the areas that can be improved using IoT. A person who will analyze the cost-effectiveness, and design implementation. Without such a person, your business will be in danger of being too cautious and missing out on opportunities. Or, it can end up with a lot of tech that does absolutely nothing for it.
Take Security Seriously
The number one concern with IoT is security. Most members of the industry are keenly aware of it, and so are the businesses that have already implemented IoT solutions. IoT is an attractive target for malevolent individuals and groups for the same reasons that make it great. IoT uses a large number of relatively cheap sensors to monitor a large number of variables. Hackers use a large number of devices to launch DDoS attacks. IoT networks gather a staggering amount of data that are used for tracking and analytics. Hackers can use the same data to steal or damage property. IoT devices allow control and automation of processes. Hackers use the same devices to disable those processes.
IoT security is one of the main reasons why IoT adoption hasn’t been as quick as it was predicted a couple of years ago. The threat is real, and the industry hasn’t been quick enough to respond to it. But that doesn’t mean the industry has been quiet. Every major manufacturer has been looking into ways to beef up the security of its devices. Service providers have been doing the same. In the United States, the government is getting involved with legislature proposals.
There are two components of IoT security — the human and the technological. If you want to stay as safe as possible, you need to address both when implementing IoT solutions. Using equipment from manufacturers with a good track record is one thing you can do. Ensuring your network is protected by a firewall in another. Using safe storage options for the data you collect is also in there. But so is remembering to change the usernames and passwords on the devices you own. That alone would have prevented the Mirai attack, for example. And finally, you should develop an interest in IoT security and follow news about latest attacks and latest security features.
We are already seeing that IoT is a technology that can help businesses run more efficiently and grow. In general, IoT solutions have a decent return on investment. But if you want IoT to do the same for you, you can’t just dive in head first and hope for the best. Your implementation needs to be precise and deliberate. And it has to be performed in a way that doesn’t leave gaps in security.
It’s no secret that the industrial IoT is where folks are hoping to make the big bucks. Investments in platforms, security, middleware, and even esoteric analytics software will continue to make headlines in 2018. However, there’s a secondary enterprise IoT market to consider: the small-to-medium business (SMB) market.
This ranges from mom-and-pop dry cleaners and restaurants to small IT firms or home services companies. These businesses are everywhere. There were 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S. in 2016, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, accounting for 99.7% of businesses in the country. Despite their ubiquity, however, sensor and technology providers have two challenges. The first is building a solution that someone without an IT staff can implement. The second is reaching these businesses.
I have some ideas. Late last fall, I gave a speech on IoT innovations in the restaurant industry to the National Restaurant Association. As part of my prep, I spoke with the managers and CIOs at both large and small restaurants chains. They all had the same two primary concerns: temperature control in their freezers and fridges, and inventory management. Other, smaller concerns centered around workforce efficiency and using voice in the kitchen.
However, from an IT perspective restaurants are terrible clients because they are one-off, work-intensive implementations. I spoke with the head of a large IT shop’s IoT team who told me that it’s hard when selling industrial IoT to figure out which clients you can build a solution for that can then scale it to all of their operations, and which clients require an 18-month-long design and implementation process and then a similar effort for each of their subsequent locations.
SMBs fall into this latter category. But there are ways to make it easier. An association that covers a particular industry could design a framework for connecting its members’ operations. So, for example, the National Restaurant Association could work with IT firms and its members to define a specific hardware and software package for measuring fridge temps. It could then market that package to its members, thereby solving both challenges at once.
I came across another option for getting SMBs access to the internet of things when I was at CES this year. It was from a meeting I had at the conference with Sprint and a company called MyDevices. Like so many other firms, MyDevices had been making an “IoT platform” consisting of devices and code that folks could use to tie into the MyDevices cloud in order to get a connected product working.
The team quickly realized that it was easy to prototype using their platforms, but building and then implementing a project was still too hard. So they focused on creating a few packages for specific IoT use cases, such as temperature monitoring or pest control (connected rat trap, anyone?). MyDevices also made it easier for manufacturers of connected devices to add their own products to the MyDevices platform. The result is that anyone building new, industry-specific packages can select sensors or tools from a drop-down menu.
So MyDevices solved the problem of getting industry-specific IoT solutions by making them easier for developers to build, then solved the non-expert installers problem by helping developers make their products idiot-proof. The final hurdle is getting those products to the right market without spending millions.
To do this, MyDevices has teamed up with Sprint, which also provides the cellular connectivity to get the resulting sensors connected. In April, Sprint will launch a storefront of IoT products aimed at its business customer. It will include asset-tracking options, pest control, and temperature monitoring packages. Having seen both the development process and the installation, I can say that it really does look easy.
And with Sprint acting as a sales channel, millions of SMB owners could find and buy a product appropriate for their needs, and later build on it by shopping with Sprint. I can see MyDevices or perhaps Sprint signing partnership deals with organizations such as the National Restaurant Association or plumbing associations to create more sales channels.
Some of the buyers will be driven by a desire for efficiency, and others, as the IoT becomes more common, by legislative mandate. The key will be keeping installation easy and providing solutions that are custom enough for a specific industry, but not so custom that they can’t scale to a wide number of players in that industry.
Today marks a momentous milestone for the wireless industry: the finalisation of the 3GPP Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) Standard. The formalisation of the NSA standard anchors the coming Standalone (SA) version and represents a remarkable step forward for the industry.
With NSA 5G NR, players across the ecosystem for the first time have rallied around a single internationally recognised specification for 5G radio systems. It provides the technological foundation for the industry to begin testing and commercialising the next generation of wireless services and devices, says Asha Keddy of Intel.
I’d like to congratulate the parties that contributed to the development of this standard, setting the foundation for an interoperable global marketplace ripe with economic opportunity and technological possibility. As I commented in the related news release, Intel participated in the process, working closely with mobile industry leaders to support the standard and accelerate the first NR trials.
Many of the early use cases will fall into the realms of enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as Vehicle-to-Everything Communications (V2X). Intel has already been innovating in many of these segments, conducting field trials with the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform (MTP) and the Intel GO 5G Automotive Platform. To prepare for the specification finalisation, we have to be two to three years ahead of the standards when it comes to gathering key learnings about use cases and their related performance requirements.
Intel is proud to have contributed to the development of NSA 5G NR with proprietary research, reference designs and insights from a range of trials. Intel’s many contributions spanned the specification, including coding, error correction, modulation, spatial sub-channelisation, beamforming, reference symbol designs, radio link adaptation and more. Intel also produced prototypes for use in the testing of pre-5G standards, including 5GTF.
Those system stacks were, in essence, the parents of NSA and SA 5G NR – providing evidence of what was possible and informing the standard’s specifications. During this process, we collaborated with industry innovators like Ericsson and Nokia, and leading operators like AT&T, Korea Telecom, NTT Docomo and Verizon.
We’ve rapidly evolved our MTP in lockstep with progress of the NR specification, preparing it for the finalisation of the standard. It’s NSA 5G NR-ready, giving equipment manufacturers the platform they need to test interoperability and operators the ability to simulate real-world use cases. Powered by high-performance Intel FPGAs and Intel® Core™ processors, the MTP will have a key role in informing the pending SA standard within Release 15 in June 2018.
We already have several NSA 5G NR trials lined up using the MTP alongside our 5G RFIC supporting sub-6 GHz and mmWave, and our 5G RFFE for operations in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands. The learnings from our interoperability testing and real-world trials are foundational for our first commercial NSA/SA 5G NR-capable multimode solutions, the Intel® XMM™ 8000 series modem, with customer devices expected in 2019. These solutions will support a variety of use cases, including PCs, mobile phones, fixed wireless CPE and even vehicles.
Of course, it’s important to remember that as momentous as this occasion is, it’s really just […]
Nothing new, but certainly still worthy of emphasis: smaller manufacturers represent an essential and dynamic component of the U.S. manufacturing industry. The Part 1 of the article yesterday consisted of smart manufacturing, digital manufacturing, digital transformation etc., the continuation of the article lies below.
Digital transformation still in early stages among SMMs
Very tellingly, a March 2017 White Paper from the World Economic Forum on Technology and Innovation for the Future of Production: Accelerating Value Creation quotes a recent study of 4,500 German SMEs, which “found that fewer than 20% had heard of Industry 4.0, much less taken steps to implement it.”, say Mary Bunzel and Alain Louchez.
It is quite a finding when we recall that the very concept of Industry 4.0 was born in Germany! The World Economic Forum White Paper ominously adds “this highlights the challenge many countries will face in assisting their small and medium-sized producers to reap the value of technologies.”
A 2015 White House press release relays the same kind of observation: “because of the unique barriers they face, small manufacturers often lag their larger peers in adopting critical new technologies. For example, a recent survey found that fewer than 60% of small manufacturers were experimenting in any way with 3-D printing, a potentially transformative technology that is especially beneficial for small companies due to its flexibility. In contrast, over 75% of large firms were using the technology.”
Yet, SMEs have a lot to gain from exploiting IIoT technologies to generate cost-cutting efficiencies and new revenue streams.
SMMs tend to be highly specialised, offering skills larger manufacturers can’t afford to maintain. Deep domain expertise is key to the development of analytic algorithms necessary for compute at the edge, digital twin specifications and artificial intelligence – just a few elements of Industrial Internet of Things technologies.
This domain expertise in combination with natural agility that comes from more nimble corporate structures creates fertile incubation for truly disruptive market opportunities through leverage of IoT-based tools.
For instance, a journeyman boilermaker, having spent 30 years maintaining the steam supply to production facilities at a food processing plant made the decision to retire. But like so many deeply experienced professionals, he sought to share his extensive knowledge on the science of hydraulics and to stay involved in industry best practices. Teaming with a supply partner he had worked with in the past, he worked with data scientists at the partner firm to incorporate operational models for steam feeds, hydraulics and boiler conditions into mathematical algorithms the firm was building into their IoT Platform for Industry.
Using the knowledge of variable conditions affecting steam performance gained over 30 years, he was able to help the partner develop condition models of performance that became part of an analytic platform available through subscription to any company needing the expertise.
In June 2017, MForesight: The Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight (a national consortium established in 2015 to provide coordinated private‐sector input on national advanced manufacturing technology research and development priorities) published a report on Ensuring American Manufacturing Leadership Through Next-Generation Supply Chains. They argue that for […]