Earlier this month u-blox announced that its SARA series of cellular modules had been chosen to provide wireless connectivity to Iomote’s customisable X400 gateway, which is targeted at Industry 4.0 use cases. u-blox’s SARA series modules include SARA-U2 (HSPA with 2G fallback), SARA-G3 (dual and quad band GSM/GPRS), SARA-R4 (Cat-M1/NB1 and EGPRS optimised for small spaces) and SARA-N2 (power-optimised NB1 modules).The X400 gateway is a central part of Iomote’s broader platform, which also includes connectivity (an included SIM and data plan), device management via the MyMote dashboard, and integration with the Microsoft Azure IoT Hub, enabling users to view and manage messages flowing from devices and access additional Microsoft Azure services such as analytics and machine learning.
The X400 gateway incorporates two processors: the core processor manages connectivity, security and OTA programming. A separate application processor, programmable using the Arduino integrated development environment (IDE), enables application creation. The X400 gateway is targeted at a wide range of industrial use cases such as vending machine management, food temperature monitoring, PLC connectivity and remote monitoring of industrial batteries. In the example of PLC connectivity, the X400 gateway communicates with the PLC via a RS485 serial port and sends data to the cloud via cellular connectivity.
The current iteration of the X400 gateway supports 3G or LAN connectivity. The addition of new connectivity options such as NB1 and Cat-M1, which support long range, deep coverage and low power consumption, will help Iomote’s gateway address devices that are often located in remote areas, subject to harsh environmental conditions and require a long battery life. Like other players in the gateway space, Iomote is seeking to simplify the job of connecting and managing devices and creating applications by offering not only the hardware, but also connectivity and off-the-shelf cloud access for device management and analytics.
The Italy-based company is led by a team previously behind Openpicus, which developed the FlyportPRO module incorporating Wi-Fi, GPRS and Ethernet connectivity. In addition to Microsoft, ST Microelectronics and unnamed telecoms operators are among its partners. Like many other cellular IoT gateway vendors, iomote sells through system integrators, vertical solution providers and software houses. Unlike some of the larger, diversified players in the cellular IoT gateway space, Iomote is primarily targeting industrial applications and indeed those that do not require high bandwidth. According to IHS Markit’s recent report, Cellular IoT Gateways Report – 2017, there is much room for growth in this space: between 2017 and 2021 industrial will lead commercial and mobile in terms of cellular IoT gateway shipments.