How to prevent dropped communication in critical IoT applications

July 15, 2020 // By Jason Tollefson, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Microchip
How to prevent dropped communication in critical IoT applications
We've all had it happen: one minute we are talking on a mobile phone, and the next minute our call dropped, and we are disconnected. We feel inconvenienced when this happens. Perhaps we were in the middle of an important conversation, or worse, we were on a critical call with the police or the fire department. This experience that we have all shared also applies to the IoT products we design.

Whether you are designing a home automation leak sensor, a wireless security system or an industrial process controller, the specter of lost communication will wreak havoc on the user experience and reliability of your IoT application. Fortunately, there are wireless IoT solutions built for maximum durability, reliability and longevity in the market today. These IoT solutions feature robust meshing technology, low power consumption and sub-GHz frequencies, making them the ideal technology to fight dropped communication.

IEEE 802.15.4 technology’s self-healing capability

You may know of wireless technologies such as Zigbee, WirelessHART, 6LoWPAN and MiWi™. These are all based on the IEEE® 802.15.4 standard. A key characteristic of this standard is the ability to form mesh networks that include nodes with separate roles. In these networks there are reduced function devices (RFD), full function devices (FFD) and coordinators. The RFD and FFD devices connect to each other, while the final connection is made with the coordinator or gateway.

Mesh networks have several important attributes for reliable communication; specifically range extension, re-routing and persistence. The reach of an individual radio is extended in mesh networks by enabling node to node communication. In figure 1, each node has a working range of 10 meters, but with meshing, the reach of the network is extended to 30 meters. This ability to extend range increases communication reliability by ensuring that nodes are “in-range” and networks are preserved.

Figure 1:  Range extension in mesh networks.

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