WISE-EC Provides a One-Stop Solution for IoT
Application Development Platform is Key for Proliferating Wireless IoT
Andy Lin, Advantech WISE-EC Senior Manager (Photo 2), and senior product manager at Advantech’s embedded computing business group said, “Advantech’s wireless communication business in the past had mainly played the role of a distribution agent and added-value service provider. But with the advent of IoT, more and more embedded devices use wireless, so Advantech started to think about re-positioning its businesses in order to bring more value to its customers.”
Photo 1: Advantech WISE-EC Senior Manager, Andy Lin
Figure 2: Advantech IoT Building Blocks using M2.COM technology
Photo 2: Advantech partners with ARM on embedded IoT solutions
In brief, the M2.COM plays the role of an accelerator of IoT application development and allows upstream and downstream partners in the industrial chain to get involved via open standards; thereby helping the overall ecosystem of IoT applications grow more vibrantly.
Figure 4: Advantech WISE-EC M2.COM and ARM Mbed
ARM Architecture Helps Realize Secure/Large Scale Deployment
A typical IoT architecture is composed of field devices at the bottom layer, various gateways in the middle layer, and cloud services at the top layer. The solution provided by ARM covers the needs of these three layers—with a Cortex-M based MCU carried in the field devices at the bottom layer, Cortex-A processors used in the middle layer gateways, and the Mbed cloud platform used at the top layer providing industry-familiar cloud services.
Mbed Cloud is middleware specialized in dealing with network connection and provisioning. With Mbed Cloud, the managers of IoT applications can monitor and control the operation of all kinds of devices and implement automatic firmware updates. These features are pretty important for the security of IoT applications. Were it not for the ARM security feature, application devices are vulnerable to attacks and changes to software and devices, imposing serious threats to system security. Protocol stacks are also vulnerable to security threats and hackers could easily breach a system via them; if the stacks are not well-guarded, intruders could change the firmware.
The ARM security mechanism is similar to TrustZone, which separates the software in IoT devices into critical and non-critical sectors. The critical sector is protected by Microvisor with data encryption and therefore is not easily to be breached. As for data transmission among end-devices and gateways, the Transport Layer Security (TLS) mechanism is used to encrypt and decrypt data transmitted, so that even if a data packet is intercepted during the process of transmission, it cannot easily be cracked and interpreted. At the layer of gateways, a similar security mechanism is also deployed called Mbed Cloud & Mbed Edge, with critical software at the gateways segregated to prevent hacks.
Because ARM was able to provide such comprehensive IoT security features, Advantech decided to partner with the company when they were developing the M2.COM platform. Security has always been a paramount concern when it comes to the penetration of IoT applications into the market. Only with reliable security will customers will feel safe to expand their rollout of IoT applications. (See Figure 5)
Figure 5: ARM’s Mbed security features for IoT application deployment
Wireless Design Service Solves Customer’s Pain-points
For example, a Taiwanese water meter manufacturer had intended to develop smart water meters supporting LoRa and NB-IoT wireless features, but found it difficult to complete product design on their own as their company did not have a team of experts in wireless so they had to face the reality that the upfront investment on wireless technology was going to be huge, which required specialized equipment such as network analyzers, spectrum analyzers, base station simulators (signaling tester), and even a microwave chamber, all of which might cost millions of NT dollars. Since Advantech already had all these resources, they decided to offer design services to help the customer introduce and integrate wireless into their own applications. (See Figure 6)
Figure 7: Advantech wireless design service helps to enhance antenna performance.