Molex and the IoT

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Designing for the Internet of Things (IoT)? — Here are 4 Factors to Consider First

Thinking about bringing more solution options to your customers through IoT design? Make sure you take a deep breath before diving into the vast world of IoT. There’s nothing shallow about the challenges involved in taking IoT developments and moving them in the direction of a connected system. Many components play an integral part in delivering an excellent overall design for connected products and their interactions when they are deployed in IoT systems.

When preparing to start your design for the IoT marketplace, the experience can be overwhelming as you explore its complexities. Because this industry continues to evolve, various design requirements and protocols should be taken into account when designing your devices. Cisco IoT experts have identified several factors to consider before you begin the design process.

Prior to beginning your process, investigate these four important aspects:

  1. Range
  2. Radio frequency bands
  3. Power consumption
  4. Topology

1. Knowing your range needs

There are different types of wireless communication that fit into short-range, medium-range, and long-range categories. Each category handles a different area of coverage depending on your needs. Short-range communication, such as Bluetooth, covers less than a 100 meter (m) distance between two devices. Zigbee and Wi-Fi fall into the medium range, spanning a distance between 100 m and less than 1 mile. For those distances covering more than a mile, long range communication technologies, such as 4G, are necessary.

Indoor and outdoor utilizations will also impact the range needs of your device. It can have functional differences depending on its environment, which can affect the range of communication necessary for the device.

So, when determining your needs for IoT device designing, ask yourself two questions:

-What is my desired area of coverage?

-Do indoor and outdoor deployments need to be differentiated?

2. Radio frequency bands—licensed or unlicensed?

When opting for wireless connection, choosing between licensed or unlicensed radio frequency bands (RFBs) is imperative. When opting for licensed RFBs, only the company that licensed the bands can use them (versus unlicensed bands, which can be used by anyone). As a result, network interference is a greater concern when using unlicensed frequency bands. There are some key differences between the two that should be considered. These are stated below:

One note to remember: An unlicensed radio band does not mean there are no laws in place or that they are not enforced. Unlicensed bands are controlled by laws, but they do not provide the protection that licensed bands have.

3. The device’s power consumption

Utility costs are a significant focus for product commercialization, making power consumption an important factor to consider for plug-in devices. If your product requires a high amount of power to run properly, cost-conscious consumers may decide not to purchase it due to the extra power costs involved.

Battery-powered devices deserve some attention as well. Consider how often a battery would need to be replaced. The devices’ success in the market would depend on this. If the battery must be changed too frequently or delivers too little power, end buyers may not be likely to purchase it.

4. Selecting the optimal topology scheme

The design scheme that allows your device to connect with nodes and other connections in a specific arrangement is a called a network topology. There are three main topology schemes that lead the IoT: star, peer-to-peer, and mesh topologies.

Star—In a star topology, each device connects to a central network hub.

Peer-to-Peer Topology—Peer-to-peer topology is when each device is interconnected with others and has its own clients linked to itself. There is no disruption to the network if one device fails.

Mesh Topology—A mesh topology is an advanced form of peer-to-peer topology in which devices are interconnected, creating multiple paths in the network.

Consider the different topology structures when selecting the best system for optimal performance of your IoT product.

IoT Design Solutions with Molex and Digi-Key

Molex offers engineering resources and industry experts for unparalleled leadership in the IoT world. We deliver solutions that are well suited for the IoT market, as can be seen in the advances we have made in the connected home arena. Visit Digi-Key for Molex products including antennas, sensors, flex assemblies and switches, that are key for IoT design. Also consider Digi-Key for micro products. FFC/FPC connectors, HDMI connectors, micro USB products, and cable assemblies are just a few of our extensive lines of electrical interconnects. We also depend on our core capabilities to offer electronic products that are completely custom, semi-custom or off-the-shelf.

As the IoT market grows, many device OE’s are looking to increase the number of sensors and USB ports in their systems to accommodate smart technology. Digi-Key offers Molex USB Modules to meet this demand. These USB Modules provide qualified kits that are compact and immediately available for prototyping and production runs, mitigating space constraints, reducing engineering costs, and shortening end products’ time-to-market. Visit Digi-Key and purchase Molex USB Module kits for your next IoT design.

Free IoT sample kits (PN: 9876516783-ND) are available upon request (offer not valid for Molex or Digi-Key employees). Email to request one today, while supplies last.



1 – Salgueiro, Gonzalo, et al. “Connecting Smart Objects.” IoT Fundamentals: Networking Technologies, Protocols, and Use Cases for the Internet of Things,” by David Hanes, Cisco Press, 2017, pp. 95–148.

About this author

Image of James Blankley

James Blankley started at Molex in 2010 as an intern and double majored in international business and marketing. His experience at Molex includes customer service and lead management, where he developed leads for field sales by creating and launching marketing campaigns for the Connected Home and other specific markets. In his current role, James is responsible for global marketing for Connected Home and business development in the Americas. He also has a focus on augmented and virtual reality.

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