Special Coverage | Chia-Yuan Chang at Avnet: One-stop solutions simplify and expedite the development of IoT
Nowadays, people can’t stop talking about the Internet of Things and artificial Intelligence (AI). We have all read about the predictions of lucrative growth made by industry seers. Everyone is searching for a suitable business model to capitalize on it. In reality, a hot new concept and enthusiasm are not enough to ensure a successful business. It requires steady research and development and lots of practice. And it needs more support from the upstream solution providers.
Avnet is dedicating itself to providing solutions and applications for the Internet of Things. Having transitioned from a distributor to a technology-driven company, Avnet has not only invested heavily itself in developing technology, but has a process in place to help its clients to the maximum possible extent. We have sped up the implementation of new technology and amassed vast experience.
Chia-Yuan Chang, Deputy Director, Avnet Asian Pacific IoT Market Development
As Chia-Yuan Chang, Deputy Director of Avnet Asian Pacific IoT Market Development suggested, Avnet’s greatest advantage lies in being a one-stop solution provider for businesses dealing in the smart Internet of Things. What does it mean? It means that you don’t have to go running around all over the market in search of the various components of a given solution, then struggle to integrate them. Whatever you need, you can come to Avnet directly for everything. Avnet will help you integrate and implement technologies so that your products reach the market quickly.
Sounds enticing? In MWC 2019, Avnet showcased its products and solutions for the smart Internet of Things with an Experience Zone and a Technology Zone, presenting real-life case studies including edge intelligence (EI), cloud service platforms and smart retail.
Edge intelligence on the rise
Edge intelligence has become a key player to alleviate the limitations that cloud data centers have set for deployment of AI, and reduce delays of transmission from cloud to equipment. With this in mind, Avnet has launched SmartEdge Agile, a customized modular plug-and-play unit for IoT. The equipment is uniquely innovative and battery-powered, which enables engineers and manufacturers to deploy IoT projects on large-equipment installation sites or with super-narrow bandwidth to further realize edge AI and safety. It is an ideal application development platform for machine learning (e.g. equipment for predictive maintenance or remote monitoring).
The Avnet SmartEdge Agile unit (the white cuboid marked by red dotted lines) installed next to an electric motor is much smaller than an iPhone XS Max
As mentioned by Chia-Yuan Chang, businesses in the field of smart manufacturing, especially small and medium-sized ones, can exclusively use edge intelligence to operate costly software that needs to run in large cloud data centers. It’s equally effective to monitor the operation of machines. The integration of machine learning technology can even make edge units smarter and more effective, not to mention that they are low-cost, easily controlled, and conveniently deployed.
Mr. Chang also cited elevators as an example. After the application of edge intelligence units, the elevator can be trained to monitor the operation and status of its own electric motors. If there are early signs of damage or malfunction indicated by, say, a change in the vibration mode of the motors, a warning will be issued so that preventive measures can be taken to nip the problem in the bud. Effectively, edge intelligence lets you solve problems before they occur.
Smart Cane solutions
IoTConnect cloud platform
A question challenging businesses today is how to quickly and effectively develop IoT applications. This is where Avnet’s IoTConnect, a cloud software and connection plan, comes into play. Mr. Chang emphasized that the IoTConnect intelligent and marketized solutions can help clients find what they want by offering elaborations, or hypothetical strategies, on how a business can swiftly develop IoT systems and services.
In addition, since IoTConnect is established on Microsoft Azure cloud computing service, it can realize seamless distribution and analysis between cloud and local system data. Clients who have connected to an IoTConnect platform can not only enjoy the original services provided by Avnet, including distribution of components, design for firmware, and professional mentors, but also flexibly utilize the tools, applications and frameworks of their choice to develop and deploy IoT applications and solutions. They include smart factory, fleet management, medical care, management predictions of assets and equipment, and smart retail.
About open source
We brought up a hot topic – open source. On this topic, Mr. Chang pointed out that open source was not as perfect as predicted, due to huge ability gaps among individual programmers. After all, an open-source product is not finalized until the second development process. Chances are, you’ll face many challenges, such as poor performance and unsteady operation.
Avnet’s eUICC (embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card) development kit
Everything that Avnet provides to our clients has been tested and examined, and proven to deliver excellent and stable performance. Our products have to support our clients in maintaining their quality reputation in the market. The eUICC that Mr. Chang introduced, which is distributed by Avnet, is an abbreviation for “embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card.” He shared that this plug-and-play solution kit could be used for flexible cellular connections of IoT equipment. A future-facing solution, it makes it easy for clients to choose any mobile network provider without needing to manually plug or unplug traditional embedded SIM cards when equipment, machines, or sensors are connected to the cellular network..
5G and smart retail
Today, 5G crops up almost every conversation. We obviously touched on it as well. Mr. Chang held that the significance of 5G lies in its ability to provide a way to connect with super-broad bandwidth and super-low energy consumption. The 5G IoT is better constructed, less energy-consuming, faster, safer and more cost-effective. It has brought forth a brand-new business model. At the same time, with the reinforcement of 5G network, the market scale of the IoT industry will expand dramatically as opportunities multiply.
As smart retail is also in demand, we asked Mr. Chang: What can Avnet do for a client who needs a smart retail solution? According to Mr. Chang, Avnet can start by helping with the implementation of electronic tags (as shown in the figure above). Secondly, Avnet can help to monitor and maintain the retailer’s in-store equipment. Avnet’s AI plan can monitor equipment around-the-clock and predict when malfunctions are likely to occur. It can also alert you when a component needs changing. Furthermore, cameras can be used to capture customers’ behavioral patterns, including customers’ shopping preferences and emotional responses, and help a retailer determine when and where special or additional services are required. Ultimately, based on real-life, real-time data, retail decision-makers will be informed and empowered to create better marketing plans.
IoT secure connection development kit based on Microsoft Azure Sphere
Avnet was originally a distributor. Over the years, its distribution network expanded dramatically as it promoted and sold countless genuine OEM components. Despite its competitive edge, Avnet was not content to rest on its laurels and remain a mere distributor. It passionately embraced the challenge of transitioning into a technology-driven company, and reinvented itself as a solution provider.