Aeris Blog

How Connected Product Designers and Businesses Using IoT Can Leverage OTA

February 06, 2019

The prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasing throughout industries across the board where, according to Statistica, more than 30 billion connected devices are projected to be in operation by 2020. One integral part of IoT functionality that makes these devices so dynamic is their capacity for over-the-air (OTA) updates. For designers of connected products and businesses planning to use connected devices to enhance their operations, it is important to understand the significance of OTA updates to secure a better grasp of the benefits of working with IoT systems.

Over-the-air updates are the process of remotely updating the software and firmware code on IoT devices through Wi-Fi or cellular connections. OTA is the modern alternative to manual updating processes, such as using a USB connection to download new software on a device, or undertaking the involved task of disassembling a device’s hardware to reprogram its internal computer. For OTA updating to be possible, an OTA device management system must be built into the device and embedded in the hardware during the product design stage.

Five Reasons Why OTA is Important for Connected Devices

Overall, business managers and operators have a lot to gain from OTA, whether it's being able to effortlessly update a deep-sea machine that pulls well data, or the make refinements to data logging devices in a fleet of trucks transporting temperature-sensitive cargo. IoT product developers also greatly benefit in that they easily can provide upgrades to their products on a grand scale to instantaneously address customer concerns across the globe. Here are five ways that OTA gives IoT devices a dynamic edge:

  1. Vastly Improve Scalability

With the click of a control-center button, OTA updates can be deployed to thousands of devices at once rather than requiring each device to be manually modified. OTA updates, therefore, eliminate the need to send technicians into the field, save owners time and money, and make IoT products vastly more scalable. The ability to make changes to many devices at once is especially important for operators of large-scale IoT deployments where updating devices manually would be a nearly impossible task, especially with devices that don’t have end users, such as agricultural field equipment or solar panels.

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  1. Reduce Time-to-Market

A well-designed product takes time to develop. Rather than aiming to perfect an IoT device before releasing it, product designers can deploy a minimum viable product immediately into the field or to the end user, and continuously work out bugs and incrementally add features through regular OTA updates.

  1. Increase Security

Deployed IoT devices can be protected from security threats by releasing OTA security patches, which can be implemented almost immediately and require no action from the end user, thus minimizing each device’s window of vulnerability to a security threat.

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  1. Future-Proof Products

OTA updates create opportunities for IoT devices to evolve alongside systems and technologies over time. Additionally, the deployment of OTA updates to a device can be timed to coincide with other technology upgrades, such as deploying an OTA update in conjunction with the rollout of 5G that will make the device more compatible with the new upgraded networks.

  1. Simplify Beta Testing

OTA updates don’t have to reach all deployed devices. As product designers seek to test new features on their IoT devices, OTA updates can simplify beta testing by sending updates to just one or any number of devices within a controlled group.

OTA Updates Made Possible with Aeris

OTA updates allow IoT products to maintain viability by creating opportunities to enhance functionality throughout a device’s lifespan. The potential for continuous improvement and renewal created by OTA updates increases the longevity of each physical piece of IoT equipment, which prevents the hardware from becoming obsolete and reduces the physical impact of each IoT system.

For connected device manufacturers in the design phase, or businesses setting up a complex system of IoT products, it is crucial to realize the importance of a strong, secure, reliable IoT network, as the IoT network is the channel through which all OTA updates are made possible.

Aeris has provided reliable network services to businesses that utilize IoT in their operations, as well as to connected device manufacturers in industries such as agriculture, fleet, and civic engineering, to name a few. To learn more about how Aeris can provide reliable connectivity and updates to your IoT devices, Contact Us today.