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IoT Gateways

Written by Jeff Child

Linking the Edge and Cloud

IoT gateways provide a critical link between sensors at the edge and the cloud. Even as the industry becomes less married to the term “gateway”, IoT gateway functionality is creeping into a variety of box-level embedded systems.

IoT gateways continue to serve an important role in Internet of Things (IoT) implementations. These gateways move data from the edge to the enterprise using common protocols—mostly wireless protocols at the edge. By decoupling data providers and data consumers, IoT implementations reap the benefits of scalability and flexibility enabling them to integrate and consolidate data streams. Today’s crop of IoT gateways are built ready-to-deploy as industrial grade smart devices. They enable communications, computation power, simplified application deployment and M2M platform integration for immediate service generation.

An interesting shift has happened over the past year where the terminology surrounding IoT gateways has become much looser. Many box-level embedded PCs essentially have all the components and features needed to provide IoT gateway functionality. Such systems are often not marketed as IoT gateways, but rather as embedded computer systems that can serve as an IoT gateway. Over the past 12 months, IoT gateway manufacturers have rolled out a steady stream of new products, including both general purpose IoT gateways, and those purpose-built for a specific application segment. As the product gallery in this article shows, the design directions in today’s IoT gateways range from increased ruggedness to smaller sizes to enhanced cloud connectivity.

A gateway was critical in an IoT implementation designed to increase rice production. Kontron worked with a local IoT solutions specialist Abbaco Controls in Malaysia and the effort led to Kontron embedded IoT gateway technology being used in an IoT project to increase rice production on behalf of the Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). Rice production uses significant amounts of water. A system was needed to make measurable improvements to the accuracy of actual and predicted water levels, speed of response times, system operational costs, water conservation and rice crop yields (Figure 1). The water supply and demand management system were designed and implemented by Abbaco Controls and features an IoT gateway based on Kontron’s Industrial Computer Platform KBox A-201.

For local data acquisition, this fanless system supports a broad range of industrial interfaces such as 2x Gbit Ethernet, 2x USB 2.0, as well as an optional CAN bus and/or Profibus interface, whereas legacy installations benefit from two serial interfaces (RS-232/485). For wireless connection to the cloud or the local network, the Kontron K-Box A-201 mini can be equipped with LTE (4G) and GSM (2G/3G) or Wi-Fi. Three external antenna connectors enable high signal quality.

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Editor-in-Chief at Circuit Cellar | Website | + posts

Jeff Child has more than 28 years of experience in the technology magazine business—including editing and writing technical content, and engaging in all aspects of magazine leadership and production. He joined the Circuit Cellar after serving as Editor-in-Chief of COTS Journal for over 10 years. Over his career Jeff held senior editorial positions at several of leading electronic engineering publications, including EE Times and Electronic Design and RTC Magazine. Before entering the world of technology journalism, Jeff worked as a design engineer in the data acquisition market.

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IoT Gateways

by Jeff Child time to read: 2 min