Utilizing MIPI specs for successful IIoT applications development

Article By : Kevin Yee

MIPI specifications can be leveraged by developers to create successful device designs, drive down development efforts and reduce costs across a number of IIoT applications.

Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications are forecast to grow massively over the next decade, driving productivity and efficiency gains across process industries such as oil and gas, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, energy and mining, as well as discrete industries such as aerospace, semiconductors and manufacturing.

The development of new cyber-physical systems that underpin this growth will be dependent on use of high-resolution cameras to power machine vision, high-resolution displays to enable rich user interfaces, and optimized command and control interfaces to connect sensors, actuators and other components.

This article explains how MIPI specifications, which are widely implemented within billions of mobile devices, can be leveraged by developers to create successful device designs, drive down development efforts and reduce costs across a number of IIoT applications.

Defining the industrial internet of things

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The IIoT envisages highly digitized industrial processes that  collect and share data through the use of connected machines and other devices. Using real-time analytics, data is used across wider industrial processes to proactively address production and supply issues, improve efficiency, enhance logistics and respond to new demands.

Growth in this market is being driven by technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, cloud computing, machine vision and robotics. By connecting the physical and digital worlds, the IIoT can monitor and optimize an entire industrial process and wider supply chain.

Benefits of MIPI specifications in IIoT

MIPI Alliance develops interfaces that connect embedded components (cameras, displays, sensors, communications modules) within electronic devices. MIPI specifications, conformance test suites, debug tools, software and other resources allow developers to create innovative connected devices.

The focus of the organization is to design and promote hardware and software interfaces that simplify the integration of components built into a device, from the antenna and modem to peripherals and the application processor. MIPI Alliance crafts all of its specifications to meet the stringent operating conditions required in mobile devices: high-bandwidth performance, low power consumption, and low electromagnetic interference (EMI).

MIPI specification framework

MIPI specifications provide the following benefits to IIoT applications:

  • Safety-critical devices, such as industrial machines, benefit from MIPI’s functionally safe and secure interfaces
  • Low-power devices benefit from MIPI’s power-saving features
  • Connected devices benefit from MIPI’s 5G preparedness
  • Size-constrained devices benefit from MIPI’s low pin/wire counts and low EMI
  • MIPI’s software and debug resources accelerate device design and development.
MIPI multimedia specifications

Uses of MIPI specifications

IIoT solutions will be built upon a broad range of devices. We’ve highlighted a few examples to demonstrate the applicability of MIPI specifications to different IIoT use cases.

Pharmaceutical quality control

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Machine vision is essential to the pharmaceutical industry, being used for critical inspection processes such as checking package integrity, fill levels, safety seal integrity and labeling. Use of machine vision is critical to product quality, and a key driver of productivity. Use of high-resolution cameras is essential for these applications and other vision-based AI functionality.

MIPI specifications that enable machine vision include:

  • MIPICSI-2 over MIPI C-PHY, D-PHY or A-PHY to provide a highly scalable protocol to connect high-resolution cameras, enabling low-power vision inferencing
  • MIPI I3C to provide a low complexity, two-wire command and control interface for cameras and other sensors

Automated industrial vehicles

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Automated vehicles are used within many industrial processes to transport materials around a site, following predefined routes using radio beacons, cameras and lasers for navigation. Automated vehicles can contain hundreds of sensors and generate huge volumes of data.

MIPI specifications that support automated vehicles include:

  • MIPI CSI-2 over A-PHY to connect high-resolution cameras (or lidars), enabling vision inferencing and machine vision for the vehicle to navigate around an industrial site
  • MIPI A-PHY to provide a long-reach (≤15m), ultra-reliable physical interface to link components within noisy EMI environments
  • MIPI I3C to provide a low complexity, two-wire interface to connect the sensors and actuators within the vehicle
  • MIPI RFFE within the vehicle’s radio communications module to enable wireless connectivity to operation systems

Industrial control systems with advanced user interfaces

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Machine control systems are becoming more advanced, connecting machines to a wider industrial process and providing rich user interfaces to allow operator monitoring and control.

MIPI specifications that support machine control systems:

  • MIPI DSI-2 over C-PHY, D-PHY or A-PHY to drive high-resolution display panels
  • MIPI Touch over MIPI I3C to enable advanced touchscreen-based user interfaces
  • MIPI I3C to provide a low complexity, two-wire interface to connect user interface components such as push buttons, LEDs and buzzers

More information on how MIPI specifications relevant to enabling IIoT are explained in a white paper, “MIPI Alliance: Enabling the IoT Opportunity.”

Kevin Yee is chair of the MIPI Alliance marketing steering group.

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