Unlike previous years, in 2020, healthcare was a major sector which was dominant in using and opting IoT technology. Semiconductor industry tapped this opportunity and innovated given the demand of the market. Sambit Sengupta, Associate Director – Solution Sales, Avnet Asia believes the semiconductor industry with its full ecosystem has risen to the occasion to bring out more efficient products. Sambit in this op-ed piece underlines the trends, challenges, and the market scenario on how the semiconductor market is maturing tapping the potential of IoT.
Impact of IoT on Semiconductor Industry
IoT as a business driver is a big boon and growth engine for the semiconductor industry. One aspect of the growth factor is the increasing demands of IoT endpoint devices. As more and more devices are getting connected, more use cases are getting realized and the demand for endpoint devices will similarly increase. The semiconductor industry with its full ecosystem has risen to the occasion to bring out more efficient products. The demand from OEMs and ODMs for smarter sensors, more efficient devices are driving the semiconductor industry in whole to innovate. Innovators have been using wireless sensor nodes in designs or use cases for quite some time. However, the impact that the semiconductor industry is seeing is how to solve innovative problems, how to efficiently deploy more IoT endpoint devices and how to provide best in class solutions.
Security and Expertise Ensuring Security-Front Offerings
OEMs and ODMs are very conscious of time to market of their products. The monetization of any new idea is typically the primary goal. While doing this, the devices that are at endpoint gets ‘budgeted’ or becomes an after-thought. The priority for security from hardware up is sometimes neglected. When the actual security breaches happen, the OEM is at risk of losing its entire brand value. Designers are already conscious of the step that needs to be taken to secure the IoT endpoint devices and protect them from malicious malware as well as side-channel attacks. They have to budget for the security in the device itself and also think one step ahead of potential hackers. So it is important for them to design the device while keeping in mind the use case. For example, if the use case demands that the deployed IoT device needs to be in the field and requires periodic features update through over the air, then they have to secure the OS as well as ensure that there is no breach during data ingestion in the cloud. In this case, it is not only the hardware which has to be hack-proof but the software as well.
Challenges For Designing IoT Devices And Best Practices For Designers
The main challenge that designers face today is that very early on the design cycle, they are forced to think about the price. This practice seems to be prevalent in many cultures where value for money is prioritized over a quality solution. While economic price point will always be important to ensure business profits, designers should think from a use case point of view and optimum security. The optimum security of devices should be one notch higher than what is required. Designers also have to think about the right semiconductor partner based on technology considerations and not just economic considerations. This is why it is recommended to work with a trusted partner like Avnet that can provide expertise, network and resources to advise and mitigate the security implications of the IoT device’s design and implementation. Designers should also concentrate on unbiased benchmarking and researching their choices in open communities like hackster.io or element14.
Drivers and Trends in IoT Technology For Semiconductor Industry Multiple choices in outdoor connectivity are the real driver in IoT technology. Whether it is LoRaWAN, Sigfox or NB-IoT in low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) or Wifi/ wifi6 – the emerging standards thereof is helping to create a large ecosystem of IoT devices. On the other hand, lifestyle changes are hastening growth. A simple example, an increasing footprint of eCommerce is making asset tracking a big use case. The question from a typical eCommerce business will be: how to have multiple stock-keeping unit (SKU) of asset trackers, operating in both indoors or outdoors be maintained in a single platform. To solve this unique problem there can be multiple options from the semiconductor industry but here a huge ecosystem will play a role in a successful deployment. Not only a fail-proof, malware proof connected device is required but the semiconductor vendor has to work with alliances – who will provide the software that will reside in the device and also with a cloud service provider. Avnet brings together a wide range of ecosystem partners including system integrators, service providers, device manufacturers, cloud platform providers, and components suppliers to help customers simplify the complexities and build a solid business case for IoT.
The Year 2020 and IoT Market
One key trend that has shaped IoT this year is that the healthcare end uses saw a high demand. There was a global requirement of contact tracing, temperature scanners, pulse oximeters for measuring SpO2, temperature sensors etc. There was an uptick in demand for unique SaaS solutions for healthcare requirement. When factories and offices started reopening, the demand for connected sensors needed for handwashing, compliance for mask etc increased. The pandemic may soon subside, but the year 2020 gave a big push to automation in various sectors. This in turn has given a big flip to remote sensing, intelligent and smart devices too.
Avnet is a leading technology solutions provider and global distributor for almost 100 years. We are in a unique position to guide innovators in the IoT space to use the best and most effective parts from the world’s best suppliers and also offer customers an end to end solution through our IoTConnect platform.
When it comes to IoT there is a tremendous amount of information, and we look at the solution beyond the device and into the cloud. As such, some businesses need guidance with regards to IoT and how it can help enable them to move up the value chain. We facilitate the implementation and maintenance of IoT effectiveness in the enterprise, which is a significant task that businesses look for, given the magnitude of IoT investments.
We acknowledge that success in the connected world calls for unique partnerships in the domain of sourcing the most economically priced MCU, processors, secure controllers or eUICC / e-sim connectivity solutions. Avnet’s integrated ecosystem connects the many different parties required for IoT deployment. We support customers with capabilities and services that address the entire range of IoT complexities, such as sensor design and development, infrastructure and gateway solutions, connectivity options, cloud and IoT platforms, and global inventory management.