Want Traffic Updates from Your Toilet?

January 31, 2019

Christine Young  By: Christine Young
 Blogger, Maxim Integrated 


Looking at how the incorporation of sensors and intelligence has transformed electronic devices over the years, it’s hard not to think about how strange our world has become. You can now get a response after asking, “Mirror, mirror on the wall?” If you’re so inclined, you can enjoy a fully immersive experience from…your toilet. Got a cat who tips the scales? Maybe your corpulent kitty would benefit from a smart treadmill.

Smart, connected mirrors, toilets, and the treadmill are just a few of the latest internet of things (IoT) products showcased at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. If Gartner projections are correct, by next year, we could have more than 20 billion IoT devices in use in the world. More than half of these products fall in the consumer category, with the rest on the business side. That’s a lot of things that can sense, make decisions, and even communicate with each other without human intervention.

Smart mirror
Smart mirrors, which were among the IoT applications displayed at CES 2019, could give us a wealth of information at a glance.

Even if we have the means to turn a “dumb” product into a smart one, it doesn’t mean that we should connect everything to the internet. Do you really need a smart toilet paper dispenser to tell you, via an app, when you’re running low? Often, the zanier things garner the headlines and buzz, but the more substantive products really highlight the awesomeness of their underlying technologies. Where the IoT shines is when it presents a better solution to a real problem, or when it allows us to do something (something worthwhile, of course) that wasn’t possible before. There are plenty of good examples on both the consumer and business sides. Consider home security, where a WiFi-enabled video doorbell can send feed of activity near the front door to the homeowner’s smartphone. Or manufacturing, where automated, intelligent factory equipment can improve productivity and uptime, completing repetitive tasks efficiently and adjusting on-the-fly to changing requirements. Or healthcare, where wearable devices that continuously monitor vital signs can help patients better manage chronic diseases.

IoT Design Resources
Whether strange or substantive, every smart, connected product shares some common characteristics. On its All Things IoT website, Mouser Electronics highlights these characteristics, providing a portal with resources on the underlying technologies that enable them. Maxim is featured on this IoT portal, offering ICs for each of these areas. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Security is Confidence: So true. This is an area that’s often overlooked or given limited attention. However, a hacked smart device—a seemingly innocuous toy or video camera, for example—can provide an entry point into the larger network, where sensitive data may reside. Protecting an IoT design with security ICs is a smart way to keep threats at bay. Maxim has a long history of delivering robust products to protect electronic designs. For example, DeepCover® secure authenticators provide crypto-strong security, enabling designers without cryptography expertise to safeguard their products. The MAXREFDES155 DeepCover Embedded Security Reference Design simplifies the process for developing authenticated IoT device nodes.
  • Making Connections: Connectivity protocols including USB-C, Bluetooth/BLE, WiFi, and LoRa bring IoT applications together. So these designs need connectivity solutions that enable the connections as well as data exchange. IO-Link® device transceivers and RF ISM transceivers are among the connectivity products that Maxim provides. For example, the MAX14828 IO-Link® device transceiver integrates high-voltage functions in industrial sensors and provides one ultra-low-power driver with active reserve-polarity protection.
  • Process Your Options: Smart sensor nodes rely on low-power microcontroller units (MCUs), systems on chip (SoCs), and single-board computers (SBCs) that meet demands for small form factor and energy efficiency. Maxim offers compact, ultra-low-power microcontrollers, many of them based on Arm® Cortex® processors, for high-performance, battery-powered and wearable applications. The MAX32652 ultra-low-power microcontroller, based on a Cortex-M4 processor with a floating-point unit (FPU), is an example of an IC that’s ideal for high-performance, battery-powered applications.
  • Powering Innovation: Many smart, connected devices are portable and expected to operate reliably for extended periods of time. That’s why they need efficient power and power delivery solutions. Maxim’s power-management ICs (PMICs) feature high levels of integration and small package sizes to comply with IoT design requirements. For instance, the MAXM17532 Himalaya uSLIC step-down DC-DC power module is all about making cooler, smaller, and simpler power-supply solutions possible—the kind of solutions needed by sensors and battery-powered equipment.
  • Sensing Everything: Sensors are at the heart of IoT devices, providing the ability to measure or detect temperature, proximity, pressure, optical, motion, and other parameters. Maxim’s sensing solutions include ICs for optical sensing, biopotential sensing, sensor transmitters, and more. An example here is the MAX12900 sensor transmitter analog front-end (AFE). With power consumption of just 170µA and available in a 5mm x 5mm package, the MAX12900 meets the requirements of applications like smart sensors and industrial automation and process control.

In addition to featuring relevant vendors on its All Things IoT portal, Mouser also provides resources including ebooks, blogs, and a video hosted by Grant Imahara. If you’re a Mythbusters fan, you’ll know Imahara from his decade as one of the hosts of the popular Discovery Channel show. So, next time you’re looking for security, connectivity, processing, power, and sensing solutions for a smart, connected design, browse through Mouser’s All Things IoT portal for insights and resources.