Hardware Bits: NB-IoT in a Nutshell
May. 27, 2019
It’s time for another installment of Hardware Bits. This time, we’re looking at the Narrowband IoT connectivity, or NB-IoT, which enables two-way direct data transfers between Spaceti sensors and the network.
So What is NB-IoT?
As the definition from Business World IT says, NB-IoT is a relatively new low-consumption wide-area technology that is developed to enhance the implementation of IoT.
That is certainly true of its use in the Spaceti solution. “We use NB-IoT because it fits our portfolio of products with its low power consumption and stable connectivity, which means we can provide the benefits we promise our clients,” Spaceti co-founder and hardware department head Tomáš Barták said.
Where Can IoT Be Used?
The expansion of NB-IoT will open up new possibilities in a broad range of fields, especially anywhere storage, cost management, or transport conditions are involved. By deploying a range of sensors and corresponding software, companies can have a better overview of environmental conditions, consumption of resources, and use of spaces and facilities in order to optimise these levels and reduce costs.
In today’s world where the margins between success and failure are razor-thin, each potential reduction in costs becomes incredibly important for maintaining the ability to compete. IoT can bring these all-important marginal gains that contribute to an enterprise’s success while also providing secondary benefits in improved employee satisfaction, greater efficiency, and a reduced environmental footprint.
NB-IoT is able to transfer a limited amount of data while lowering energy consumption. For example, the Spaceti Parking Gem is an indoor/outdoor sensor that communicates through an established network whether a particular parking space is occupied or not. This allows users to find free spaces and navigate to them, saving them time and optimizing the use of the parking lot. People can even reserve spaces beforehand, saving them the stress of seeking out a space in a packed lot.
According to Spaceti’s Firmware Engineer Maksym Huk, the three most important aspects of NB connectivity from
the point of view of firmware are:
- Implementing the correct sequence of controlling commands to achieve optimum power consumption, thereby extending battery life.
- Providing two-way communication with the server in order to gather data and perform Over-the-Air (OTA) firmware updates, something that is crucial when you have hundreds of sensors installed all over the world.
NB-IoT in the rest of the world
It is important to note, however, that using NB-IoT to transmit data is just one of a number of technologies available on the market and it has to find its place solution-by-solution. Despite certain restraints, such as limited data transfer speeds or data volume sizes, it has great potential for expansion. In 2019, website Mavoco reported the technology was well-represented in large parts of Europe, China, Russia, several South American countries, and Southeast Asia.