If it can be connected, it will be connected. That’s the driving principle behind the explosion in connected devices representing nearly $128 billion in U.S. market value between now and 2027. The profitable proliferation of these devices is made possible by advances in cellular technology that enable the next generation of IoT products to be better, stronger, faster, and smarter than ever before — even across long distances and challenging conditions.

At Pivot International, we’re the product design, development, manufacturing, and supply chain partner helping companies capitalize on the mushrooming market for cellularly connected products. With nearly fifty years of experience across fourteen industries, 320,000 square feet of manufacturing might, and advanced DFM expertise, we are the go-to partner for helping companies deliver competitive, cost-effective, and scalable IoT innovations to market.

A Two-Pronged Approach

There are many classes of IoT products, each with different use-cases that must be carefully matched to the right cellular technologies. To accomplish this requires a two-pronged approach. First, the use case must be assessed across connectivity, communication protocols, security, identity, and machine learning. Second, a partner must be identified with the technical diversity to provide a wide range of cellular technologies and the experience to match them to product use case effectively.

Our teams at Pivot bring extensive experience with the latest cellular technologies, including LTE, Cat M, NB-IoT, and 5G. And our in-house DFM talent makes us industry leaders in discerning the finer points of product use case and developing it with scalable manufacturing in mind.

Three Primary Challenges

The three primary challenges companies face when matching cellular technologies to use-case are:

  1. The need to cost-efficiently connect many devices within a large area.
  2. The need to efficiently manage these devices throughout their life cycle.
  3. The need to ensure device communication and data security.

For many of the products we develop, Cat M and NB-IoT cellular modems are the optimal solutions to these challenges. (Beware of the many product development partners that may lead you to settle for a viable solution simply because they lack the technical diversity to provide a truly optimal one.)

Let’s take a look at these technologies and why they’re so well suited to the greater majority of IoT devices.

NB-IoT vs Cat-M1

NB-IoT and Cat-M1 are both 3GPP standardized technologies. Although they have areas of overlap, they are complementary technologies with different strengths. As its name suggests, narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) is a better fit for ultra-low complexity products that don’t require broad bandwidth. On the other hand, Cat-M1’s 1.4 MHz bandwidth makes it a better fit for products of greater complexity and higher cost investment.

The latest NB-IoT and CAT-MI enhancements and new functionalities include:

  • Multicast transmission
  • TDD support and increased UE differentiation and access control
  • Reduced latency and UE power consumption
  • Reduced system information acquisition and cell search time
  • Improved coverage, capacity, and EU measurement
  • Higher peak data rates to serve a broader range of applications
  • Lower power class that enables smaller battery form factors
  • Extended support of cell ranges of up to 100km

Examples of IoT Applications Effectively Supported by NB-IoT and CAT-M1

Low-cost sensors, smart meters, e-health wearables, and logistical trackers are common use cases for NB-IoT and Cat-M1 and represent just a few of the successful products found in Pivot’s portfolio. The devices are characterized by:

  • Low device and deployment cost
  • Small form factor
  • Long battery life
  • Wireless connectivity for challenging conditions
  • Strong application and communication security

One of the cellular products our teams at Pivot are proudest of developing is the Zibrio SmartScale, winner of a CES Innovation Award and a Gold Medical Design Excellence Award. This product is the first clinically proven scale of its kind. It enables users to accurately assess deficits in their balance to take precautions to reduce their risk of a dangerous fall.

At Pivot, we operate at the leading edge of technological evolution to fuel our partner’s success in a competitive market. Our one-source, end-to-end product development expertise and company-owned facilities ensure a seamless process and transparency into your project’s status. Our highly collaborative, client-centric approach is part of what makes us a trusted and preferred partner. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help take your IoT innovation from concept through distribution, contact us today.