How Analog ICs Fuel Wireless IoT Sensors
September 10, 2019
| By: Christine Young
Blogger, Maxim Integrated
Buildings are becoming smarter than many people give them credit for. Maybe we’ve come to take for granted all of the things that these structures which house our workplaces and homes can now do without our intervention. From lighting and heating/cooling to security systems, many of the functions that keep us comfortable and safe now operate autonomously thanks to internet of things (IoT) technology.
Whether it’s a connected building, a smart city, or something in between, all of these IoT application areas rely on wireless sensors. These sensors collect data about their environment—temperature, movement, pressure, levels of substances, and many other parameters. They’re typically small, given the space constraints of their end applications, and they operate on batteries, consuming very little power since the data processing is handled elsewhere.
The growing movement to connect more sensors to the internet and enable more connectivity across everyday things has given rise to new low-power wireless standards called low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs). LPWAN is used to enable long-range communications at a low bit rate among connected things. Some of the leading LPWAN protocols include LoRa, Sigfox, and NB-IoT.
For companies designing IoT applications based on LPWAN, Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Radio Bridge designs and manufactures long-range wireless sensors based on the standard. The company is striving to distinguish itself in the market by producing products with an open architecture that are low in cost and feature long battery life. Its customers can remotely provision, monitor, and configure their sensors in the field via an optional, web-based device management console.
Given its products’ specifications, Radio Bridge needed underlying components that could meet its performance targets while consuming little power. Most of the company’s customers want custom features, which results in more complex verification and manufacturing processes. As Radio Bridge began developing new outdoor/industrial versions of its sensors, the company selected an array of Maxim analog ICs, including the MAX31856 thermocouple interface, an RS-485 IC, and 4-20mA circuitry. Each IC met the company’s goals, with less current and smaller sizes than competitive options.
“In the IoT space, things are moving very quickly and you need to react quickly. Working with the Maxim team allowed us to accelerate things and, in aggregate, get ahead of schedule by nearly a month,” noted Steve Kilts, Radio Bridge’s CEO.
To learn more about how Radio Bridge solved its design challenges with Maxim ICs, read their testimonial.