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The Challenges of Achieving EMC in IoT Applications

Key Takeaways

  • Ensuring EMC in IoT applications is a challenge when devices communicate and interact with each other over a wireless network.

  • The high density of low-power devices co-locating in a geographic area poses EMC concerns in IoT applications.

  • The main objective of EMC in IoT applications is to maintain the normal operation of various equipment sharing a common electromagnetic environment.

  Internet of things graphic

 Most IoT devices use high data transfer rates and wireless communication technology

Internet of things (IoT) applications refer to physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items that utilize the internet to function. Auxiliaries such as embedded electronics, sensors, actuators, software, and internet connectivity enable IoT functionalities by collecting and exchanging data. Most IoT devices use high data transfer rates and wireless communication technology for data collection and exchange. When the number of wireless devices utilizing the internet increases in close environments, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) problems can arise. The issue of EMC in IoT applications is a concern when devices communicate and interact with each other over a wireless network. 

EMC in IoT Applications

Advancements in IoT are happening at lightning speed; every day, more and more internet-enabled, RF-based devices are introduced to the market. IoT devices make operations data-driven, optimized, and efficient. However, the presence of numerous wireless devices utilizing electromagnetic signals for communication in a common environment affects their electromagnetic compatibility. The main objective of EMC in IoT applications is to maintain the normal operation of equipment sharing a common electromagnetic environment. Mitigating EMC issues in IoT applications requires adherence to EMC standards and design guidelines

EMC Challenges in IoT Devices

There are a few common challenges that affect the EMC of IoT-driven devices.

The Number of Devices

As the density of IoT devices in a given geographic area increases, the co-location distance between them decreases. This leads to the crowding of wireless, as well as wired, devices in that specific area. Crowds of IoT devices, phones, tablets, PCs, etc. pose risks for the RF and EMI immunity of these devices. Crowding can also cause the interference power of a transmitted signal to exceed the receiver’s noise level.

Higher Frequency of Operation

IoT devices are designed such that the frequency of operation can be greater than standard EMI emission frequencies. The planned frequency ranges up to 30GHz and 90 GHz in outdoor and indoor environments, respectively. However, immunity testing is done for some other frequencies at which the devices are currently operating, and the maximum immunity test frequency is at 18GHz. The scope of EMC standards and immunity testing is limited when it comes to the EMC of IoT devices.

Licensed and Unlicensed Frequency Bands

Data exchange and collection in IoT applications can be assigned to channels under either licensed frequency bands or unlicensed frequency bands. Permission is not required to use unlicensed frequency bands. 

Unlicensed frequency bands challenge the EMC of IoT applications. The electromagnetic environment varies in different geographical areas due to the heavy usage of unlicensed frequency bands. Transmitted signals are disrupted or experience time delays if unlicensed frequency bands are heavily used.

Low-Power, Wide-Area Network Devices

IoT devices use both low-power, short-range networks as well as wide-area networks. The high density of low-power devices co-locating in a geographic area causes EMC concerns in IoT applications. The high density of IoT devices increases the electromagnetic interference level in the environment where these devices are located. Low power devices give a low signal-to-noise ratio, which makes them vulnerable to electromagnetic interference.

Achieving EMC in IoT applications is a challenge, as the electromagnetic environment is fairly unpredictable. IoT designs need to be highly immune to electromagnetic interference, as traditional EMC standards and testing procedures do not work well for IoT applications. Cadence’s suite of design and analysis tools can support your IoT designs with processor-based solutions and standards-based IP solutions. 

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