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IoT and EMI

Friday 25th September 2015

EMI could threaten IoT Growth

EMI or Electromagnetic Interference, is one side effect of all the new electronics devices coming onto the market every day. Each of them creates a little bit of radio frequency noise which can interfere with other devices around them. And all this noise is one potential threat to growth of the Internet of Things. However it isn’t a new problem.

 

Some excellent examples are provided in a recent IEEE Spectrum article Electronic noise is drowning out the Internet of Things. If this interests you then I recommend you follow the link and read the whole article. I’ll summarise the key points here:

 

  • when radios were first introduced to cars they only worked when the engine wasn’t running
  • household gadgets often interfered with TV reception
  • the explosion of communicating devices make this an exponential growth problem

Background Noise

To understand why, it is necessary to understand what is meant by Background Noise.

 

Background EMI or RF Noise

Man Made RF Noise

So that is a lot of noise.  The vertical axis is in Decibels (dBs) and each step represents a power factor of 10 or 10dB. So 50dB = 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 = 100,000. The more noise, the more interference, and the the more powerful the transmitter needs to be to be heard at the receiver.

 

Since the trend is toward ultra low power short range communications, this is a big problem.

 

So standards for reducing RF Interference, also known as Electromagnetic Compatibility or EMC, have been getting tighter over the years. Just as the car radio problem was solved through the design of better car electrics and suppression of noise sources, there will be solutions developed over time that reduce interference and improve reception even in the presence of interference.

 

The challenge going forward is to both improve Electronics Design of new devices while systematically removing problematic older technologies from the market.

 

LoRa Wireless

A good example of this trend is the LoRa Wireless technology that allows very low power transmitters to operate over much longer distances. So a device that previously had a 50m range could have its range extended to 1Km by changing to LoRa Wireless Technology. This is also an excellent example of an industry initiative where companies form an alliance to develop a technology to improve market adoption. In this case, the LoRa Alliance.

 

LoRa Alliance

LoRa Alliance

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

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