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WiFi for IoT for a new generation of wireless

The first version of the Wi-Fi 802.11 protocol was published in 1997 and provided connection speeds of up to 2 Mbit/s. Today, 24 years later, the development of wireless connections has experienced tremendous growth.

Currently, the most widely used protocols are those complying with the IEEE 802.11ac standard (Wi-Fi 5 or ac), and IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6 and 6E); in 2024 the new Wi-Fi 7 with the IEEE 802.11be standard and over 30 Gbps speed will also be introduced. As you can see, there is no end in sight to the process of developing increasingly powerful connections, but what are the most common Wi-Fi protocols? How are they used to control IoT devices?

Alternative protocols to WiFi

Every day, billions of devices connect to Wi-Fi to send and receive data and information on an ongoing basis. The problem with the current Wi-Fi protocols (WEP, WPA, WPA2 and WPA3) is that they consume a lot of power to exchange data efficiently and quickly, which has a significant impact on the battery life of smaller devices. For this reason, alternative protocols to Wi-Fi will be developed so that they are able to cover longer distances with drastically reduced energy consumption.

Unlike current Wi-Fi, the next-generation alternative, known as 'Wi-Fi HaLow', will not transmit data continuously, but with periodic, concentrated transmissions over time. The result of this innovation is a slower data transmission suitable for occasional data exchange between connected devices, which will benefit the battery life of the latter.

How to control and monitor a device via wireless

To control and monitor a device via wireless, it is necessary to use software or mobile applications that are connected to the network. The advantage of wirelessly connected devices is that they can be controlled remotely, even if the input comes from a completely different network. This is how, for example, we can turn on the air conditioner before coming home: just access the dedicated application, have any network connection turned on, and then control all the functions of the device.

The control and monitoring input of the various devices does not have to be manual, but by setting up a flow of automations and routines it is possible to program scenarios to be activated when certain conditions occur.

For example, the door opening/closing sensor detects that we have left the house, and at that moment activates the recording of the video surveillance cameras, turns off the lights, activates the alarm and lowers the shutters. These are all actions that can be controlled remotely, or automated according to the "IFTTT" (If This Than That) logic, i.e., when this condition occurs, this happens etc.

How to develop an application for the remote control of a device

Le app giocano un ruolo centrale nel controllo da remoto di un dispositivo smart, ma affinché siano efficaci devono essere sviluppate con cura in ogni minimo dettaglio. There are three different types of mobile applications that can be developed:

  • Native apps: these are applications developed for a specific operating system (Android, iOS, Harmony OS etc.) and offer the highest levels of performance and functionality;
  • Cross Platform Apps: hybrid applications, faster and cheaper than native ones, and more comprehensive than WebApps;
  • web apps: these are similar to a traditional application, but are practically built as a mobile version of a website or web page. The aim is to offer the user some main functionalities, but it is never a complete all-round solution.

Native apps are undoubtedly the best type of app to develop if the aim is to control and monitor a smart device. The development process of this type of app is very similar to that of all the others: you always start with an idea, proceed to the drafting of the business model, define the main elements until the actual release on the official stores.  

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