It is estimated that by the year 2025, 75 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be deployed, powering new applications into all aspects of our lives, from intelligent homes and security cameras to smart cities and self-driving vehicles. With the explosion of IoT, embedded designers are focusing their efforts on system energy usage, more than ever.
While there are high hopes for future IoT market, challenges pertaining to connectivity. This is because WiFi and cellular bands are already congested, and cannot support additional wireless devices. In addition, most of the IoT sensors are low-power devices, which transmit at rates much lower than channel capacity, and since these devices use omnidirectional antennae, they are very inefficient in their use of shared spectrum.
How mmWave Spectrum Can Overcome The Issue Of Scaling IoT
The Millimetre-wave (mmWave) frequency bands have the potential to address IoT scaling problem by offering multi-GHz of unlicensed bandwidth, 200x more than the bandwidth allocated to today’s WiFi and cellular networks. Spectrum availability at such high frequencies promises to enable higher network throughput than existing wireless networks.
Recent studies have explored this technology in enabling high throughput wireless links for emerging applications, including 5G, virtual reality and data centres, which require multiple-gigabits-per-second throughput, while having substantial energy and computing power. For this reason, telecom providers have shown interest in using mmWave for 5G deployments.
New mmWave Research Makes Breakthrough For IoT Applications
In contrast, researchers from the University of Waterloo have demonstrated a novel design of mmWave network for low-power, low-cost IoT devices known as mmX. The new design is a spatial reuse of the spectrum, making the spectrum usage much more efficient. mmX design contains a new communication modulation scheme, which eliminates the need for beam searching in mmWave radios.
Traditional mmWave systems experience high spectrum attenuation which is bad for the network. As a result, the system radio has to compensate for by using a highly directional antenna which requires beam searching. In contrast, the researchers show that they can leverage the directionality property to create modulation over the air which eliminates the need for beam searching as well as simplifying the hardware. This enables the researchers to design a new architecture for mmWave radios which is a first of its kind efficient and cost-effective architecture for IoT applications.