IoT and healthcare: creating powerful IoT networks, without much power

When it comes to functionality, today’s massive IoT solutions must meet three key requirements: extended coverage, long battery life and low device cost. As sensors and connected devices continue to be deployed at scale, it is critical that energy efficiency must be part of the IoT solution’s design from the start and not an afterthought.

IoT and healthcare solutions: the perfect match
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Mobile networks continue to grow and accommodate higher mobile broadband throughput, as well as mission-critical (eHealth, utilities, critical infrastructure, etc.) and massive IoT, creating a need to re-examine how those networks are built and operated. There needs to be a refocus from responsiveness and always being on, to handling responsiveness and massive connectivity, all while minimizing power consumption.

Category M1 (Cat-M1) and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) standards

An estimated 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections worldwide are expected by 2023, and new cellular IoT technologies such as Cat-M1 (also known as LTE-M) and NB-IoT are fueling market growth. Cat-M1 and NB-IoT are the gold star 3GPP standards designed for Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) applications, for example, smart metering or sensor applications, sending small volume data, latency tolerance, etc., but requiring low cost, long battery life and superior coverage in hard to reach areas such as basements, or deep indoor environments. The technologies provide a globally standardized ecosystem with global coverage, and more secure and reliable network connectivity in comparison with unlicensed ones.

The two technologies are complementary to meet use case diversity. Cat-M1 is targeting a wide range of applications with data in the 100s of kbps such as health-monitoring wearables, and fleet and asset management, while NB-IoT is better suited to applications sending even smaller amounts of data and operating with even longer battery life and better coverage, such as environmental monitoring sensors or livestock tracking devices. The most noteworthy difference between NB-IoT and Cat-M1 is that Cat-M1 supports voice call and mobility while NB-IoT does not.

With batteries capable of lasting years and extended coverage which can reach deeper into buildings or other remote hard to reach locations, Cat-M1 and NB-IoT can support a wide range of applications in smart cities, smart metering, smart agriculture and logistics and transportation.

IoT healthcare solutions - the proof is in the pudding

At Mobile World Congress 2018, Ericsson, Sony MobileAltair Semiconductor and Qoitech successfully demonstrated a connected eHealth device prototype for monitoring diabetes. Since then, integration of the next generation of ultra-small, ultra-low power Cat-M1 and NB-IoT chipsets has enabled even better battery life: up to five times longer. The improved power performance was showcased at MWC Americas in Los Angeles.

In the demonstration setup, Sony Mobile’s diabetes wearable uses the OMA Lightweight machine-to-machine (LwM2M) standard to connect to Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator which simplifies client-server communication as well as management of devices and sensor data. This results in more a streamlined service enablement and application management.

Standardized by Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) SpecWorks, LwM2M is a device management protocol designed for managing lightweight and low-power devices. It works across all IoT connectivity types such as cellular and Wi-Fi, and is deployable today. LwM2M is a key component when it comes to enabling zero touch onboarding and reducing registration and roll-out times. It builds on an efficient secure application layer standard called the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP). The demonstration showed that CoAP outperformed Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), with at least 20 percent better power performance and increased battery life in low-power devices.

IoT and healthcare – just the beginning

eHealth monitoring is just one of many applications that can be accomplished with Sony Mobile’s cloud-based services. In combination with Altair’s dual-mode ALT1250 chipset, which is certified by the world’s leading mobile network operators, it has been shown that an entire world of new IoT devices is possible. The ecosystem will continue to diversify as more innovative connected device use cases are made possible, all easily enabled by Ericsson’s Cellular IoT and Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator.

Find out more information about the eHealth demonstration and how next-gen chipsets are creating more streamlined and efficient device communications, while requiring less power.

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