Implementing the Connected Intelligent Edge in Smart Connected Spaces

Monday 1/24/22 08:08am
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Posted By Rajan Mistry
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Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Cities, agricultural lands, remote environments (e.g., streams), and buildings are all examples of environments where IoT technology is transforming them into smart connected spaces. The main aspect they share is the large geographical areas they span. Additionally, these environments may also present challenges like limited wireless connectivity, installations in remote or difficult locations, and harsh operating conditions.

Our vision for the Connected Intelligent Edge sees a world with billions of IoT devices powered by our latest mobile technologies, including our powerful and efficient mobile applications processors, 5G connectivity, on-device AI, and other solutions. This technology is converging to bring more intelligent processing at or near the edge, and nowhere is this functionality needed more than in today’s smart connected spaces.

Below, we present four projects utilizing technology from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. that demonstrates how we help developers build solutions for different smart connected spaces.

Intelligent Building: Remote kiosk from AWS
Recently we showcased our Remote Kiosk project at AWS re:Invent 2021. We collaborated with eInfochips, which sells a camera reference design based on the Qualcomm QCS610 application processor, to put artificial intelligence in an IIoT device at the network edge and avoid the network round trip for processing

The project uses the camera for real-time traffic detection. For example, this can be used in a hospitality setting to trigger a call to a concierge for virtual support when a guest approaches the kiosk. It uses SSD MobileNet V2 for face detection, and analytics to track the number of calls made, along with AWS IoT to generate alerts, and Amazon Kinesis Video Streams (KVS) to start a video call with the concierge.

This project is suitable for an intelligent building. A successful deployment will depend on choosing a suitable location for the kiosk, and a reliable internet connection to ensure that alerts are ultimately routed to the concierge. In addition, frequent updates to the machine learning (ML) model may also be necessary to account for factors such as unexpected objects being detected by the camera and classified by the ML model.

Smart Cities: Waste Management – Sensoneo
Overflowing public waste bins are an inconvenience, a source of litter, and a poor use of resources. They also represent a great problem for cities to solve with IoT technology.

Sensoneo’s Smart Waste Management System is tackling this with its rugged smart sensors installed in waste bins. Designed to help waste management operators plan efficient waste collection, these sensors monitor waste in bins of various types and can also monitor for temperature, fires, and pick-ups during waste collection. Data from these sensors is collected and transferred over cellular to the cloud and processed by the system’s cloud-based platform. A dashboard provides insight to operators for optimizing the waste collection, while citizens can use an app to find empty bins or report on bin usage levels.

To make a system like this work across a large area of a city, cellular connectivity plays a key role in ensuring that data reaches the cloud. Long battery life is also essential, as it’s not practical, nor pleasant, to constantly replace batteries across huge deployments of waste bins. Thus, power-efficient processing, and the ability to decide at the edge how much data needs to be sent to the cloud, becomes important. And finally, waste bins in and of themselves are harsh environments subject to shock, heat, and moisture. The rugged enclosure for the edge device must withstand these demands while ensuring the hardware remains intact and connectivity remains unhindered.

Notable edge technologies in this project include:

  • Quectel LTE BG96 (based on the Qualcomm 9206 narrowband multi-mode LTE modem)
  • Accelerometer with advanced tilt recognition algorithm
  • Microcontroller thermostat

Environmental Monitoring: Portable Water Monitoring Powered by Blues Wireless
Piecing together hardware, connectivity, and communications protocols for IoT deployment can be daunting. Blues Wireless, a member of Qualcomm Advantage Network (QAN), is addressing this with Notecard, a power-efficient, system-on-module (SOM) that provides high-performance cellular connectivity. It can be integrated with existing microcontroller units (MCUs) or hosted in their Notecarrier solution. It communicates with their Notehub service, a cloud platform that securely manages and routes edge data to cloud providers, with the option to first transform that data.

The Earth Day 2021: Stream Research project demonstrates the use of this technology in a portable, solar-powered device for monitoring water quality in streams. Raw sensor data is transmitted over cellular via the Notecard, and Notehub transforms it to send more meaningful data to the final cloud endpoint.

The target operating environment for this use case presents some interesting challenges. First, the smart sensor must be kept in a waterproof enclosure that can withstand torrential rain, capsizing, humidity, and water trying to penetrate wire inlets. And since the unit will likely be installed in very remote locations, the use of solar limits the need to change batteries, but would require the unit to have sufficient access to sunlight. In addition, the quality of the cellular connectivity at the remote location (which is often poor in places like mountains), must be assessed to ensure that data has a path to the cloud.

Notable edge technologies in this project include:

Smart Farming: Grand Farm – Veea and RCI
Another platform for creating large-scale deployments is the STAX solution by QAN member Veea. It’s being used on Grand Farms as part of the Rural Cloud Initiative (RCI) to improve rural cloud connectivity and increase food production.

The platform’s VeeaHubs are small, fan-less, stackable hubs powered by our chipsets which can communicate with smart devices. They form a mesh network to provide onsite cloud connectivity and the necessary compute power to run cloud applications near the edge built with the VeeaHub Toolkit. Farm operators can then use the Veea Control Center online portal to manage deployments, and the VeeaHub Manager app for configuring and diagnosing VeeaHubs on mesh networks.

For a farming use case, you’ll want to pre-plan the deployment to determine what smart devices are required, where they will be placed around the farm, and which edge-cloud apps are required. Another important decision will be the type of wireless network(s) to employ (e.g., BLE, ZigBee, etc.) to communicate with the smart devices. The system can also provide wireless backhaul (e.g., via 5G), which can be beneficial for bringing internet access to both the farm and the surrounding rural area.

Notable edge technologies in this project include:

Get Started Today!
As we’ve seen, our rich IoT solutions can power a diverse set of smart connected spaces with intelligence at or near the edge. Be sure to check out QDN for our full collection of software and hardware offerings. that you can use to build intelligence at or near the edge.

And if you have a cool project built with our technologies, be sure to tell us about it for possible inclusion on QDN.

Qualcomm QCS610, Qualcomm 9206, Qualcomm Advantage Network, Qualcomm 9205, Qualcomm 9207, Snapdragon, and Qualcomm Networking Pro 800 are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.