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RF Fundamentals for the Internet of Things

By Chrissie Cluney June 06, 2017

What will the future of the IoT and IIoT look like? It will feature Radio Frequency (RF).

In Brent McAdams’ paper, “RF Fundamentals for the Internet of Things”, he discussed how the IoT and also the iIoT is undergoing a surge of innovation which is occurring across the industry due to RF technology.

McAdams is vice president of strategic initiatives at OleumTech Corporation, which is an innovative provider of M2M communications and industrial automation solutions. He leads the company’s OEM efforts as well as developing strategic partnerships to deliver a global IoT strategy. This includes edge-to-enterprise solutions.

In his paper, McAdams writes that IoT connects an ecosystem of sensors, devices and equipment to a network that promises to improve asset utilization, enhance process efficiency and boost productivity.  

“Big Data will be Big,” said McAdams. He is referring to the modeling of data that supports predictive analytics, either in the cloud or within other parts of the model. This allows organizations the ability to quickly diagnose and troubleshoot not only their sensor networks from a predictive maintenance perspective but also their operations. And it reduces excess use of energy and raw materials.

Can an Ecosystem be hardwired? While the Ecosystem can be hardwired a hybrid approach is mostly utilized. This includes wireless sensor networks (WSN) and much of the network infrastructure through high speed, broadband links. Radio Frequency (RF) technology is a part of our everyday lives. However in terms of iIoT, the technology has been adopted for decades in some of the harshest conditions. This makes wireless technology seem like magic.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” said Arthur C. Clarke, futurist and writer.

For some people who may not fully understand the concept of IoT and iIoT, wireless transmissions are radio frequency (RF) signals which travel based on behaviors called propagation characteristics. RF radiates from an antenna on the transmitter end and is received by an antenna on the receiver end. The actual data being carried is modulated on one end, which is transmitted over the air. Then the data is demodulated on the other end. The RF signal’s propagation characteristics are dictated by frequency, wavelength, and amplitude.

Brent McAdams strongly feels IoT is a technology that “harnesses the power of connected systems to predict, learn and make real time business decisions.” Despite all that the technology is capable of accomplishing, there needs to be a connected system before consumers must have connected devices. The technology is not going to work if this isn’t set up prior to use.

IoT brings with it an increase in the demand for wireless technologies. From beginning of connecting systems to the final outcome it is imperative to understand RF fundamentals. This will ensure proper application and implementation of wireless systems.




Edited by Ken Briodagh
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