As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues its march throughout the globe, manufacturers have adopted new distant and dependable methods for updating equipment in the field. Given that there will be more than 41 billion linked IoT devices by 2025, it is necessary to maintain their software and firmware current.
This is the purpose of over-the-air (OTA) updates. OTA update refers to the process of remotely upgrading the software or firmware of an Internet of Things (IoT) device. This allows IT personnel to distribute updates to a fleet of devices simultaneously, saving them time and effort.
Let’s take a deeper look at how over-the-air (OTA) updates are implemented and the criteria you should follow to guarantee a seamless and effective process.
Ways to Update IoT Devices OTA
There are three primary techniques to update IoT devices over the air, regardless of the number of devices being updated.
1. Edge-to-Cloud OTA Updates
The IoT gadget is linked to the Internet and receives the update immediately from a distant server using this manner. The gadget is capable of handling firmware and operating system upgrades. The majority of consumer IoT devices are updated in this manner because to their proximity to Wi-Fi signals in households and small businesses.
Example of an Update Method: Amazon Echo Dot, Google Home, and Nest Thermostat update
2. Gateway-to-Cloud OTA Updates
Using this mechanism, the update is transmitted to an Internet-connected gateway that manages a fleet of IoT devices. In this case, the firmware of the gateway, any or all of the software running on it, and the host environment of the software application can all be changed. The Internet of Things devices stays untouched. This strategy is appropriate for IoT devices with limited processing capabilities and no Internet connectivity. As a result, the banking and healthcare industries embrace this strategy.
Example of a Method Update: Banking and finance IoT devices that monitor the cash availability at bank branches, ATMs, and other bank partners.
3. Edge-to-Gateway-to-Cloud OTA Updates
Using this strategy, the Internet-connected gateway that manages IoT devices updates the firmware and software applications on the devices. In contrast to the prior case, the gateway is not currently updated. This strategy is effective in situations where wired Internet connectivity or the gateway is limited.
The IoT devices must have sufficient computer power to accept a connection from the gateway and update themselves, but Internet connectivity is not required. The gateway is the sole Internet-connected device in the network that distributes essential updates to the devices.
Field-based sensors in agricultural settings monitor soil moisture levels, meteorological conditions, and the functioning of automated cultivation machines.
Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, so your choice will rely on a number of criteria, including, but not limited to:
- Internet connectivity data for IoT devices and gateways
- Wi-Fi capabilities
- Network security skills and needs
Considerations For Your IoT Device OTA Update Method
When picking an update mechanism, IoT experts recommend considering the following factors.
- Automatic recovery from damaged or interrupted updates: Your updates should roll back gently if they fail. The devices should be able to roll back to the prior stable version without user involvement (or little manual labor) and then notify IT workers of the upgrade problem.
- Enhance integrity tests: Devices should only automatically download and install updates that have been confirmed. The device should search for a verification certificate, code, or another proprietary indicator inside the code that shows the update is genuine and it should proceed.
- Secure communication channels: All OTA updates must be performed through encrypted communication channels, including all external connections between the cloud, gateway, and the Internet, and all internal connections between a gateway and the IoT fleet.
- Permit partial updates: Depending on how often your devices are connected for updates, you may also wish to permit partial updates at any time. This would reduce bandwidth use and device processing time, making it easier to update even the most remote devices.
With the global deployment of IoT devices, we will need to create more effective methods for upgrading them. With OTA updates, you can maintain your whole IoT fleet current, regardless of their location or industry.