July 5, 2018
|By: Kristopher Ardis
Executive Director, Micros & Security Business Unit, Maxim Integrated
Many things have intelligence, but not all of these things have a way to share their knowledge or listen to our requests. In some cases, it just doesn’t make sense. For example, your door with a brain would be pretty useful to you, but perhaps not to your neighbor or someone living on the other side of town. But then, what if your street light had a brain? More intelligent street lights could yield more accurate weather maps or pollution data across the city. They could listen for car wrecks or gunshots to alert the appropriate first responders. In this case extracting more intelligence out of our devices does something for society, not just for the person who owns the device.
Adding to a device the ability to process data (or, “adding intelligence”) comes with some questions to address: how much processing capability is needed, and how do you add this without overdoing it (and going over budget) or under-doing it (and delivering a product whose ‘intelligence’ is in question)? How do you ensure a positive return on investment (ROI) even if you must address changing requirements once the device is installed? Will you have enough processing power and memory to add features?
While we are surrounded by an invisible intelligence, installing devices to free that intelligence is risky and you want to make sure that you can maximize ROI.
A digital thermostat is just one example of a device that meets the three principles of invisible intelligence.
Invisible intelligence rests on three principles:
Now, let’s take a look at how these three principles relate to our original question: how do we make sure our IoT devices have the right amount of intelligence?
When it comes to a smart, communicating device that may need to monitor multiple sensors and upgrade itself in the field, an 8-bit microcontroller that might be inside a traditional version of that device will quickly become overwhelmed handling the newer demands:
There are many processing options available, including microprocessors and 8-, 16-, and 32-bit microcontrollers. But when it comes to meeting the requirements of the IoT, they are all quite different in terms of performance, power, and memory. For more in-depth insight into criteria to consider when evaluating processing options for your next smart device, read my white paper, “Adding Intelligence to the Next Generation of Smart Devices.”