Managing IoT Communication at the Edge

How to manage more designs with less effort

Significant design efficiency improvements are needed to help embedded and IoT system engineers face the design challenge of having to deliver more new product designs in the same or even less time. They can meet these challenges by switching from full custom, single PCB designs to more flexible designs based on application-ready computer-on-modules. But efficiency can be boosted even more through additional standardization on top of the computer-on-module centric specifications.

The goal of the ComX™ standard is to establish additional design-in and API standardization on top of the core standards to further simplify the development of customer-specific applications based on standardized embedded computing building blocks. ComX™ standardization addresses everything beyond the existing module centric standards.

congatec’s Cloud API for IoT Gateways

The new congatec Cloud API for IoT Gateways and edge servers is a proposed part of this standardization process. This API is made available to serve as the universal hub between local sensor networks and the IoT clouds. The new Cloud API for IoT Gateways communicates with local smart sensors, processes and converts the acquired data and executes automated actions based on a local rule engine, reducing traffic to the IoT cloud and enabling fast local actions. Secure bidirectional data exchange with any suitable clouds is achieved by using the TLS secured MQTT protocol. Clients can access this cloud via https in client or administrator mode. All these features make the new Cloud API an ideal starting point for OEMs that wish to access smart sensor networks via IoT gateways and IoT edge servers on the basis of comprehensive board and module offerings ranging from COM Express, Qseven and SMARC modules to Pico-ITX and Mini-ITX motherboards plus various IoT gateway level designs.

Suits any local sensor network

Developers can integrate the new Cloud API for IoT Gateways into any local sensor network. It can communicate with local sensors of all types, process and convert the acquired data and analyze it using a rule engine to make decisions locally, which reduces traffic to the IoT cloud and speeds up response times. The reference design communicates with a Bluetooth LE sensor network. Reference designs for other wireless sensor networks, such as ZigBee or LoRa as well as wired solutions for building and industrial automation, can also be implemented. Further possibilities include heterogeneous configurations as well as communication with additional gateways in larger installations, where fast local exchange of data in real time is key. A prime example of this are Industry 4.0 connected machines and systems. In a demo system, the Cloud API was integrated on the congatec IoT gateway, which is scalable with Qseven modules and offers numerous expansion options for customer-specific configurations. Such an open, best-practice solution is the ideal choice for OEMs to evaluate their specific IoT application.

Various function modules for different needs

The essential software components of the application-ready Cloud API include function modules as well as a demo and test module for provider independent IoT clouds. The Cloud API software modules use a sensor engine to integrate the protocol and device independent communication with the sensors and actuators. It also normalizes the recorded data into definable physical units and checks for consistency. The operating system library CGOS integrates all relevant gateway system parameters, such as CPU workload, CPU and board temperatures, intrusion detection and hard disk status as well as watchdog timer. The rule engine enables the local gateway to define instant messages and actions independent of connection status, while the communication engine standardizes the encrypted and provider independent cloud communication via wired or wireless internet connections.

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