How to Connect Wireless Sensors to the IoT

Posted by Chuck Harrell on Feb 4, 2016 11:00:00 AM

iot.pngIn a recent post, we listed five reason to implement the Internet of Thins in industrial applications:

1. Most economical way of gathering data.

2. Can be implemented in stages.

3. Can cost-effectively scale from very small to the largest installations.

4. Information from IoT devices can be supplied quickly to those who need it.

5. IoT devices can be continuous, scheduled, or event-triggered data sources.

In a subsequent post, we showed why IoT implementers should consider the use of wireless for gathering data from sensors:

1. Wireless is a mainstream mature technology.

2. Often more cost effective than hard wiring.

3. Quicker to install.

4. Offers the ultimate in flexibility to add/change/remove devices.

5. No maintenance of wiring infrastructure required.

6. IT-oriented format can leverage in-house knowledge.

7. Handles many common protocols.

8. Empowers a reliable data source.

In this post, we'll briefly discuss how to implement wireless IoT installations, a subject covered in much greater detail in an upcoming Advantech white paper.

Today, there are solutions available that let any end-user easily incorporate information from field devices into a powerful data gathering system using an IoT framework.   Not only can existing I/O signals be harnessed, but they can be readily and wirelessly transmitted into the cloud and made available to users over common portable hand held devices.

The first implementation step is connecting wireless sensors to controllers or HMIs, the data gathers in an IoT system.  If the sensors aren't wireless, a protocol converter can be added at the sensor to transform its hardwired output signal to wireless.  Wireless connections from sensors and converters are typically made by first connecting them to a wireless gateway and then hard wiring the gateway to the controllers and HMIs, usually via Ethernet.

Once the data is gathered, it can be sent to the cloud via any Internet connection, whether wired or wireless.  Wired connections are through an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and wireless connections are typically cellular or satellite.

Cloud data can then be distributed to fixed and mobile users, again through the Internet via browser-based access.  Fixed users typically access this data through a hardwired ISP connection to their PC.  Mobile users generally access data on their smartphones and tables through Wi-Fi or cellular wireless networks.

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