If implemented properly, the value of the AIoT is vast and has not yet been realized. The applications are just as great, from industrial and manufacturing to healthcare and aviation. Unfortunately, designing a system based on AIoT is not child’s play. In fact, even with some strict guidance, it can be quite complex.
Designing an AIoT system include, but are not limited to, how you acquire the analog data from the real world; how you digitize those signals, which in many cases, would be imaging data; the analytics; and then converting all of those parts into logical, safe, and reliable actions. Sounds simple, right?
Designing a system based on AIoT requires pulling in multiple disciplines, as the electrical system must integrate seamlessly with the mechanical system in environments that could be subject to wild temperature swings and/or shock and vibration. And these activities must occur in real time. To achieve that level of sophistication, some combination of CPU, GPU, FPGA, and/or VPU would be needed.
A key enabler of most AIoT platforms is 5G connectivity
Once that decision has been made, the real work can begin —interfacing with sensors, then acquiring and processing the data associated with the images in real time. The images are transcoded and the information is sent to a compute engine, which analyzes the data for actionable insights.
When it comes to these highly complex systems, the industry has become good at cooperation and partnership. It’s far easier than having one vendor try and do it all. By dipping into the hardware and software ecosystems, the various disparate components can be pieced together properly. It’s been made clear by the design community that no single company can handle all the requirements in this process. So the ecosystem is vital to putting these technologies together, as they all have their own expertise. And the key is how we glue them all together into a single system, in a cohesive manner.
Connecting AIoT Components
One example of an AIoT system that pushes the limits of design expertise is the autonomous mobile robot (AMR). An AMR is a relatively large AIoT system that’s composed of many smaller, disparate systems, both in terms of hardware and software. The hardware is represented by motors, actuators, cameras, and other sensors. While the software side contains a robust real-time operating system and lots of firmware to “attach” the various parts.
A key enabler of most AIoT platforms is 5G connectivity, super-fast wireless communications are needed. 5G is the catalyst for fast and reliable connections in a host of AIoT applications. 5G brings a significant capacity enhancement with enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB). And it features ultra-reliable, low-latency communication (URLLC), which is needed to stream much higher resolution video. At the same time, 5G offers a connection to a large number of devices with massive machine-type communications (mMTC).
Check out the latest Embedded Insiders podcast, where I discuss in detail what’s needed to pull from the ecosystem in the process of building AIoT systems!