By Dave Bursky, Semiconductor Technology Editor, Chip Design
Voice biometrics to ubiquitous connectivity, this year’s IoT smorgasbord covered a lot of ground.
The huge growth predicted for the Internet of things (IoT) so that every electronic device will be interconnected can only happen if the system and device suppliers can overcome the many challenges and instill confidence that the devices will be secure and interoperate.
These are just two of the many issues raised at the IoT DevCon conference that took place in Santa Clara on May 25 and 26. Many of the keynotes and technical sessions examined security issues and approaches to making the systems more secure. Additional presentations focused on defining the ways that disparate devices can intercommunicate through the use of a standard platform or gateway that can accept devices with different interfaces (WiFi, ZigBee, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and proprietary interfaces and protocols).
For example, in the Wednesday morning keynote, Maarten Bron, the Director of Innovations at Underwriters Laboratories, examined the state of IoT security today and took a look at the future, where crowd-sourced testing and public ledger technology could improve security. On Wednesday afternoon, a keynote by Rod Schultz of Rubicon Labs looked at the challenges of provisioning the identity of millions of devices. To do that properly he expects systems will provide secure digital uniqueness coupled with a system or service that validates that uniqueness. Competing for attention with the Rubicon presentation, a presentation by Steven Woo of Rambus examined the trends in semiconductors and all the potential threat sources that a device can face (Figure 1).
On Thursday, an entire track from morning till evening focused on multiple aspects of security, with presentations by companies such as Silicon Labs, Barco Silex, Renesas Electronics, Infineon, aicas GmbH and Xilinx, Icon Labs, Knurld, Intel, Secure RF Corp., and still others. Presentations examined chip-level approaches, encryption options, the use of voice biometrics, and still other techniques to ensure the IoT device and the system are secure.
The many interface options that connect all the IoT devices to the gateway was the focus of Wednesday’s panel and an all-day track of presentations dealing with Connectivity, Protocols and Standards as well as the design of gateways. A presentation by Ericsson, for example, examined running Internet protocol on IoT devices to provide ubiquitous connectivity using standard protocols. A speaker from Infiswift offered an in-depth overview of multiple low-power wide area network technologies to help designers select the best connectivity option for their IoT application. A related presentation by Silicon Labs examined various wireless protocols to best fit a connectivity option to an application. The issue of interoperability and the use of standards was examined by a presenter from Real-Time Innovations.
The design challenges of IoT gateways was also a key theme discussed on Thursday, with presenters from Mentor Graphics, PTC Inc., Dell Computers, PrismTech, and ARM, examining different aspects of gateway design. For example, the design of a secure converged reference design for an IoT gateway was the focus of Mentor’s presentation, while the presenter from Dell examined the performance of IoT gateways.
Thus, by creating an open platform that can handle multiple communication wireless interfaces, designers can achieve a high degree of interoperability while maintaining secure communications from multiple end-point devices, through the gateways and on to the host system.