By Mário Prado *
In our hyperconnected world, in which we encounter day by day with numerous technological advances, Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the subjects that has been much researched, generating debates and investments by the companies and the government, due to the diversity of applications and vertical businesses that can benefit from this type of innovation.
It is no coincidence that daily projections appear as to how many connected objects we will have in Brazil and in the world. Gartner estimates we will reach 20.4 billion connected things by 2020, a number that will continue to grow exponentially in the years to come.
In general, IoT projects involve devices connected to the internet that are capable of sending data – collected by sensors or other sources – or communicating with other objects. Nowadays, in many applications, we see a great tendency to aggregate the position information of this object during the collection of these data. Knowing the location of an object is very common when we speak in external environments, since technologies such as GPS or GSM network triangulation are well known and work very well.
However, there is a great difficulty in implementing systems capable of accurately locating indoors. I recently attended the Geo IoT World 2017 conference in Belgium, which focused specifically on this subject, showing different technologies capable of accomplishing this task.
This type of system is called the Real Time Location System (RTLS). There are several technologies that allow indoor location today, such as Wi-Fi or UWB but, the most promising, given the cost, stability and feasibility of implementation, involves the use of beacons (active Bluetooth tags). These devices enable object detection to be performed indoors with relative accuracy (a few meter error) at an affordable cost and using small, battery-operated tags lasting for several years.
The system works as follows: small readers (IoT gateways) are installed in the company’s internal dependencies. These readers will detect the beacons attached to assets, objects or even company employees, and will send this information over a Wi-Fi network to a central server responsible for mapping the location of each object in the plant. This central system can be integrated with other company systems, performing tasks such as meeting room reservations, time measurement in processes, traceability of employees in hazardous areas, time management and internal logistics routes, or simply showing the position of a item in the company’s premises.
These identification and location data are essential for organizations to take advantage of IoT’s benefits, including in the industry, by analyzing data generated by devices for control and decision-making.
For low-cost asset traceability, companies can also work with passive (RFID) passive RFID tags, which do not require the direct contact of the object with readers as with the bar code, bringing great agility to the inventory process. The scene of a young man conducting inventories and controlling inventory manually will be a thing of the past.
RFID technology has been used for a long time as communication, identification and location technology, whose costs have become more accessible and contributed to its popularization, especially after the advent of passive tags that do not have their own battery or transmit signals, but whose data are identified by readers.
The beacons and RFID tags can be installed in any type of asset, such as IT equipment, furniture, household appliances, hospital and industrial equipment, etc. They are IoT localization technologies that add intelligence, enable loss reduction, optimize investments, and improve service delivery. We believe that more sectors and companies will be able to use these technologies to exploit the benefits of IoT in their activities.
* Mário Prado is a computer engineer, Master in Computing from the University of São Carlos and CTO of Taggen Soluções IoT.
Source: Portal ComputerWorld