What is an IoT Gateway Device and Why is it so Important for the Success of IoT Projects?

What is an IoT Gateway Device and Why is it so Important for the Success of IoT Projects?

IHS forecast suggests that the growth in number of IoT devices will be exponential, with an installed base of 15.4 billion devices in 2015 to 30.7 billion devices in 2020 and 75.4 billion in 2025.

Now to support such network(s) of IoT devices that are expected to become more complex, IoT Gateway is one of the most critical components of the entire Internet of Things (IoT) network.

In this blog post, we will discuss why IoT Gateway device is that important, but first-up let’s understand what is an IoT Gateway!

What is IoT Gatway
Image Source: Intel

What is an IoT Gateway Device?

IoT Gateway, as a hardware device or a virtual software code, acts as a communication bridge between IoT Sensor Network and Cloud Server.

IoT gateway device has a layered architecture. Following are some of the important software and hardware layers to help you get better understanding regarding the IoT Gateway Development process:

1.) Hardware Platform: This defines the processing power & memory specifications of the IoT Gateway. This is the gateway powerhouse and a hardware platform is selected based on the complexity of IoT application(s) that need to be deployed

2) Operating System: The decision of opting for a particular OS depends on the legacy systems. It is a best practice to continue to use the OS compatible with the existing systems in order to save costs and hassle-free integration

3.) Analytics Engine: This layer ensures raw data is converted to actionable insights

4.) Integrated Application development platform and Device Drivers: This layer supports development and/or  addition of new devices, applications or systems to the IoT network

Why IoT Gateway is important?

The importance of an IoT Gateway device can be gauged by the number of critical tasks/actions that are performed by this device.

Here is just a glimpse of some of the important tasks:

  • Facilitate compatibility across the IoT network. IoT Gateway ensures this by supporting a number of communication protocols like Zigbee, 6lowpan, Bluetooth, WiFi, LoRA, Zwave
  • All the devices that need to be monitored or controlled have relevant sensors installed on them (temperature, humidity, proximity or other sensors).
    These sensors are IP based; IoT Gateway manages the connectivity of these sensors (and in turn real world physical devices) to the cloud server.

To be precise, IoT Gateway makes the devices available online through sensors and cloud

  • In additional to bringing the IoT network to life, IoT Gateway also performs many operational tasks – manage device configuration, perform device authentication for secure network access and support edge-analytics

Evolution of IoT Gateway and Edge Analytics

1st Generation IoT Gateway:
These IoT Gateway devices were designed to facilitate communication protocol compatibility and device management functions. However, they did not support data analytics at the ‘edge’. With 1st generation IoT Gateway, all the analytics is performed at the cloud server.

2nd Generation IoT Gateway:
This product line of “smart” IoT gateways support ‘edge analytics’ , hence ensuring reduction in data transfer costs and extension of  the benefits of data analytics at local networks

3rd Generation (Current):
This new generation of IoT gateway devices improves the overall system responsiveness and also supports new operating models. Since IoT gateway devices continuously receive huge amount of data from the sensors, at times it may overload the main system. To avoid this the new generation IoT gateway analyzes the data received from various sensors and prioritizes and passes critical information to the main system and send alerts if required.

The new generation IoT gateways are intelligent and capable of filtering out the high priority information from the data received. They are also capable of taking action on the data received. For example, if the gateway senses that the temperature is too high, the gateway can send instructions to turn on the air conditioner.

In our next blog post we will discuss about “How an IoT gateway works”. Subscribe to our blog to get alerts about happenings around IoT.

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