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What is a FOTA update?

Firmware Over The Air (FOTA Update) for IoT and Different Devices

Electronic systems are becoming smart devices. These smart devices run on code created by programmers in different languages. These codes can be complex if the hardware is complex and simple; if the device only handles basic operations.

System and firmware interact using wireless communication protocols such as Bluetooth and WiFi. It becomes available with the OTA platform to update the existing code to create new features and bug fixes. The main objective behind FOTA software update is to offer a simple and fast service to ensure system integrity and security.

What is a FOTA update?

All the electronic systems with smart capabilities depend on a line of code that enables them to perform many tasks as assigned by their users. In embedded systems, assembly language was the prime example of bases of coding.

Nowadays, it is popular to have small IoT devices. These machines have limited memory and CPU capacity, so security-wise they do not have the ability to download a large amount of data for an installation. Moreover, an upgrade feature allows you to update your device once a new version comes out. With the "FOTA wireless update", although an announcement of new software is being sent from the server, the actual download happens from the distribution server from within your network via a relay function. This relay function saves on your bandwidth consumption and allows you to continue working while the download proceeds in the background.

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Why FOTA?

Firmware is a type of code that resides in a non-volatile memory chip. These chips have small amounts of data that have been programmed into them. The primary purpose of firmware is to initialize and/or test the hardware part of a system at power-on, to monitor for error conditions, and often to hold a time-stamp.

Firmware-Over-The-Air (FOTA, OTA) Updates are for IoT devices and different hardware which have never been updated before, including a FOTA update for Arduino, Raspberry Pi. It is suitable for large or small-scale smart structures. More and more variety of systems Firmware-Over-The-Air (FOTA) every day.

Sources of FOTA updates

Mobile operators

The solution for a firmware update without a direct connection is to use FOTA. This method is supported by many connected devices that may not have a wired or wireless network connection at the time firmware updates are available. To handle this, OTA capabilities are used. The device connects via mobile broadband from a mobile operator, and from there the new firmware can be transferred. That could be a problem, though, as many mobile operators move away from having large data packages to get this kind of functionality. More and more operators decide to force their customers to use special services instead of allowing them to get access through their subscriptions.

Device OEMs

Firmware updates are the electronic equivalent of new versions of software being released for computers or smartphones. It’s an easy way to ensure your device is always running the most current version of firmware available.

When you think of firmware updates, the first thing that comes to mind is an operating system (OS) like Android or Windows. FOTA system updates are regularly issued for these operating systems, but it doesn’t stop there. Most devices also have firmware updates regularly issued by the OEM like routers, set-top boxes (STBs), network security devices (NDSs), digital media players (DMPs), etc.

Advantages of using FOTA update

Low power consumption

It is well-known that the Android (and iOS, to some extent) operating system consumes a large amount of energy. This causes the mobile phone's battery to run out quickly, which in turn causes users to charge their phones more often than they would like. The fact is that the mobile phone chip is not designed for low power consumption, so using it in drones or boat navigation equipment will cause headaches for users. FOTA update consuming less power is an added advantage.

Reduce human error

The software update is a process that should be done regularly since it controls your software applications and makes sure that devices are updated with the latest bug fixes and security patches. FOTA (Firmware-Over-The-Air) was first used for mobile phones, then by network devices as well as other products which needed remote software updates. FOTA updates can be used by organizations to reduce human error.

  • Powerful flexibility
    FOTA (Firmware over The Air) updates bestow flexibility to users, so they don’t have to visit a service center every time to get the latest software upgrade. This is particularly beneficial for a large number of industrial applications, as well as embedded systems which often face difficulty in upgrading firmware due to their interaction with a host system.

  • Change the UI to suit the user
    Most of the software on our computers is created to suit the user, but not every function is easy to use. Most people do not seem to bother with updating their drivers, because if they do, their computer will slow down at certain times while new drivers are being installed. Most don't know it is possible to postpone the installation of new FOTA updates until late at night or late in the evening when there is little traffic on your internet lines. The updates will still get through even if your computer is busy or doing something else at that time. You can go into settings and then open refresh and get the updates for this night only.

  • Divide your fleet into groups
    If you decide to send FOTA updates to your Android-based fleet users, the first thing you need to do is to divide your devices into groups. This will help you save time and money and avoid unnecessary costs and headaches related to sending the wrong data to the wrong devices.
  • Configure applications remotely
    Wireless bandwidth is increasing day by day. Whether it is through dual and tri-band Wifi or 5G networks, downloading the files and instructions is easier than ever. Everything is moving towards wireless from wired-based systems.

    FOTA (Firmware-Over-The-Air) update will allow users to update their devices wirelessly. This means that you will be able to upgrade your phone without the need for physical repair or replacement of the hardware.
  • Ensure security
    Users might wonder what a FOTA update is, and how it can make a difference to your security. At its heart, FOTA stands for 'Firmware Over The Air' and is a method of updating a device remotely via a wireless link. Firmware Over the Air (FOTA) update is a new security protocol, which can be used in some IoT devices. It lets users install software updates automatically and thus improve the security of a product without the user’s manual intervention. For some IoT devices, it can be quite crucial, since firmware updates usually fix bugs and add new features for users.

  • Effortless control
    Some technologies are developed to make the users' life easier. Others are developed with the aim of proving that something can be done. The philosophy behind every FOTA (Firmware Over The Air) update is, however, to make life easier for end-users; without making them believe they're using an easy-to-use device.

Summary

The ability to get access to new features and fixes without having to go to a store or service center is a welcome change in technology, especially if it helps prevent mistakes when updating critical functions of a device. It also allows you to set a reminder to make sure a FOTA update happens when you’re not using the device in order to prevent any interruption in its services.

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