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What falls under the Mobile IoT umbrella?

As seen on our homepage, Positioning Universal is the leading global provider of mobile IoT solutions for asset and vehicle monitoring. Offering exceptional hardware devices such as the AI Fleet Camera Solution and FT7500 Gateway telematics solution, Positioning Universal ensures fleet’s are as safe as possible, and likewise gives fleet’s confidence and connection in an industry that spans vast distances. But what makes these solutions qualify under the mobile IoT umbrella? And what else falls in?


For many, including myself, IoT has always been a term that seems to be everywhere online, yet one that I never completely grasped. IoT stands for Internet of Things, which by itself does not offer much definition. However, with a little more digging, this definition both explains its exact meaning as well as why the term is so popular. Essentially, internet of things is an umbrella term that encapsulates several types of devices—or things—that have sensors, software, routers, and other technologies embedded into them for the purpose of connecting to and communicating with other devices through the internet. The clearest example of IoT devices are computers. Naturally, mobile IoT devices are the same thing, with the added element of being “mobile,” or in other words being able to have internet connection on the go. This can be seen by devices like smart phones. Also, with this definition we can see how the AI Fleet Camera Solution and FT7500 are IoT devices as well, as they utilize different technologies to communicate both with each other and with computers through the internet, and likewise access the internet from many different locations as they travel with vehicles.


IoT and mobile IoT devices not only span many different devices, but also involve many different ways to connect those devices. There are four popular connection mediums for IoT devices:



Cellular


One of the most common technologies for IoT devices, especially for mobile IoT devices, is cellular technology. Cellular networks allow devices like smartphones to operate virtually everywhere. From being able to stream that favorite show in the car on a long road trip, to making a phone call in the mountains, cellular networks provide that connection.


Essentially, cellular networks operate by sending radio signals to a server, and then converting those radio waves to actual inputs and operations. To learn more about exactly how cellular networks work, read our blog post on Cellular Frequency Bands. Today, with the emergence of 5G technology, cellular connection is becoming increasingly powerful as the signals can be transported at a much lower latency, allowing for more involved applications. Devices such as the AI Fleet Camera Solution utilize cellular networks to connect fleet vehicles to their managers and deliver life-saving information.


Bluetooth and BLE


Another technology commonly known to the public is Bluetooth and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). This technology is great for short range communication and requires very little power to operate. Bluetooth technology connects devices like wearables—smartwatches, Fitbit, etc.—wireless speakers and headphones, in home security systems, and much more.

A common misconception with Bluetooth technologies is that cellular or WiFi connection is necessary for it to work. However, Bluetooth is its own connection technology, so as long as there are two Bluetooth compatible devices within the required range, Bluetooth can work from anywhere. This is why you can still listen to music with your wireless headphones while on a plane (granted you downloaded the music beforehand). Positioning Universal’s ELD solution is also connected using Bluetooth technology, which allows for very reliable logging of driver hours, even when the driver is in remote areas with little to no cell service. For reference, an ELD, or Electronic Logging Device, records driving hours and other Hours of Service (HOS) metrics for fleet drivers.


WiFi


Today, WiFi is the hallmark connection service that everyone knows about. In the home, at work, and at the local Starbucks, WiFi supplies internet. It has been extremely effective and important in making the world more interconnected and the internet as powerful as it is.

However, in the IoT space, WiFi is much less prevalent because it has many limitations, one of which is the high energy requirement to operate. This is why for most battery-operated IoT devices, WiFi is not the best solution. WiFi operates best on devices that can be plugged in to a power source, such as smart appliances and TVs, computers, etc. For that reason, WiFi is the method of communication between the FT7500 and AI Fleet Camera, since the FT7500 is plugged into the car, resolving the issue of higher power requirements.


LPWAN


Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) provide long range communication using small batteries. This technology can support large-scale networks that require long range communication. However, the limitation to LPWANs is the speed and type of data that can be transferred. LPWANs are only able to send small blocks of data and are best in situations where the data being transferred is not time sensitive. That makes it the perfect technology for asset tracking devices such as Positioning Universal’s TT603.


Conclusion


With these different options for connectivity of IoT and mobile IoT devices, leveraging which technology to use for which device is crucial. All these different options allow for different capabilities, and when used in harmony, can create elegant and high performing systems. This can be easily seen by the high performance of the coupled, FT7500 and AI Fleet Camera Solution. These two devices utilize cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth technology to allow for optimized connection not only between the two devices, but likewise an incredibly reliable connection to fleet managers, no matter how far away.

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