FDI News

April 1, 2016

Psssst! I’ll tell you a secret…

Psssst! I’ll tell you a secret…

FDI is developing an Embedded IoT Gateway.

Here’s Why: More and more customers are asking us to solve their connectivity problem and they need more than just a hardware solution. They’re asking for a complete end-to-end solution. But what does that even mean, “end-to-end solution”?

After some digging, here’s what we’ve come up with:

End-to-End IoT Solution = Hardware + Communication Channel + Cloud Processing + Cloud Control

Once defined, we realized providing a product that will deliver in each of these areas would be a piece of cake!

Yeah, right.

FDI, like most companies, cannot waste time or money developing the wrong solution. But, for our customers to be successful with their projects, our commitment to them means delivering an Embedded IoT Gateway to meet their needs. To that end, we are reaching out to you, our partners, for input to help assure we don’t miss something that’s important to you. We want to know:

  • What trends are you seeing?
  • How are companies delivering solutions?
  • What factors are most important to consider? Why? How can we address them properly?
  • What is the IoT Gateway FDI should develop? How does it work? What can it do?

Or, just weigh in on some of our preliminary thoughts and considerations. Here they are:

PoE – In the industrial space, which is where FDI plays, we see an increasing need for power over Ethernet capability. Yet, it adds cost to the gateway so we are considering the real value.

Ethernet – 10/100 and only one channel. Is this enough?

Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 (Smart) –Bluetooth modules that can get out to the internet through the gateway are awesome. Sensors with BLE and OTA capabilities are exciting, too, especially when they provide a reasonable amount of processing power and functionality (I/O, ADC, I2C, etc.) But are these functions really critical for a gateway to deliver?

Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi is winning the consumer market with connected home and office products. Its early adoption in this market makes it an important aspect to consider but in many industrial applications the Wi-Fi infrastructure is the least dependable RF medium.

Cellular –Mobile platforms and solutions distanced from infrastructure use cellular as a preferred solution. However, we haven’t considered building cellular into the gateway as a primary on-board communication function due to cost. Would supporting cellular as a plugin add-on to our standard gateway keep us in the game for these applications?

Cellular Service Provider – On the cellular side, we are researching solutions with Verizon and AT&T mainly due to customer requirements. Many of our customers have already picked their cellular provider. We were surprised by this and wonder: Is this always the case?

Arduino Header – Yeah, I said it. We see a multitude of Arduino shields in the market place. These give you access to expansion and flexibility in designs. Is Arduino ready for the mainstream, or is it still viewed as something just for hackers?

Processor – We’re picky about processers so we definitely want to get this right. We’re considering processors running around 200MHz, including floating point units and, most importantly, boasting built in security features. Speaking of security features…

Security – This is one of the trickiest parts to the equation. How much security do we add and how? We looked at Renesas Synergy microcontrollers and the NXP Secure microcontroller solutions. Synergy designed security into the core with AES, 3DES, RSA/DSA, GHASH, SHA1, SHA224 and SHA256 not to mention the software support brought over with Express Logic. NXP’s LPC43S67 microcontroller is the core of the OM13084 kit by Zentri and it seems to show off its security functions well. But, what do you think? What is the best microcontroller for an embedded gateway?

Cloud Solutions – This is where it gets crazy. There are so many partners to pick from. It seems to make the most sense to pick a well-recognized partner as a cloud provider. We are considering Amazon AWS, IBM Bluemix, BugLabs and even Exosite. The big players (Amazon and IBM) have the most to offer but  can be the hardest to design in because they have the strictest rules.  Is the big effort worth the big brand name?

So, let us know what you think. Where are we right and where do you disagree with our strategy? What are we missing? Please tell us. We value your opinions and experience. We are all ears.


Todd DeBoer
Director of Software and Business Development