Internet of Things is the buzzword for the past couple of years. Without doubt technology companies across spectrum are vying for a slice in the IoT Pie. Acquisition of NEST by Google, ThingWorx by PTC, Pachube by Logmein are definite pointers towards the trend.
In this post we will see about IoT, architecture, applications etc and see how things are going to communicate more than human in their entire history.
What is Internet of Things?
Internet of Things is a concept where real world physical devices, each with a unique identifier, are connected to the Internet and decisions and actions are made based on the acquired data without any human interaction. The physical device could be anything like ambient light sensor in our home, a human heart rate monitor, a temperature controller in a refrigerator truck etc. The decision could be taken by a Cloud platform or by a gateway in our home or even by our mobile phone.
An IoT scenario can be as simple as our car, on detecting a crash, calling ambulance service automatically. Or it can be complex enough to manage complete inventory beginning with detection of reduced inventory, triggering an order based on financials, historical supply/demand parametric and other factors, monitoring the production, tracking the shipment, monitoring the quality, updating the inventory and so on.
IoT is a sort of extension of earlier technologies including data acquisition with sensors, internet and human intelligence. Earlier we had a data logger that collects all the data and pushes it to a central server. The user will view these parameters and take some decision based on that and controls the system.
But with IoT, the data analytics and decisions are taken by intelligent devices. Hence the human intervention is minimized or removed so that the Things manage themselves for bringing out a desired and optimal result.
Internet of Things Architecture
Basically IoT involves Sensors, Connectivity and Intelligence.
Connecting millions of devices on the internet is going to create a scenario that was not seen earlier. Technically IPv6 has enough unique addresses to identify devices that will be manufactured and connected to Internet for a long time from now. The complexity arises from the way of handling the data from these devices, extract meaningful information from them and take decisions on the same.
The communication technology will be depending on various factors including its usage/applications, data rate, location and other requirements. For example it could be a low power ZigBee/BLE communication to a gateway and then to the Internet or directly to Internet using a GSM modem or WiFi/Broadband.
The architecture of IoT is evolving and most likely it is going to be based on events from the real time objects. The events are likely to be propagated to the control center and processed. The event could be interpreted in different ways depending on the current state of the object and action taken. Again it could originate from the command center and move towards the object.
It is expected that the architecture is expected to evolve and continue to evolve until a majority of the devices in the world are connected.
Internet of Things Standards
There are many standards currently being created for IoT, that soon the number of standards may become more than the number of devices. There are many organizations and consortium that are trying to define a common standard for these devices to communicate among them and for inter-operability. Some include the IoT-A by www.iot-a.eu, Global Standards Initiative on Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) by ITU, IEEE Standards Association, Open Mobile Alliance etc.
Since the applications for IoT are varied, each company is creating its own protocol for communication. But most are based on RESTful services, CoAP, JSON and other such technologies. Consolidation of these different standards towards a common one is no where in sight for the near future.
Internet of Things Applications
Internet of Things finds numerous applications. It will change the way we interact with the physical world and the devices around us. The devices will have understand us better and make our life easier. Many of the applications scenarios are available in Internet for reference.
Some prominent examples include:
Internet of Things Opportunities
The IoT will create new business possibilities. Primarily it will be in the following segments.
Sensors: With requirement of more number of sensors, large scale production will lead to low cost devices.
Connectivity: Different connectivity options are expected to be employed for different scenarios. Along with new devices manufactured with connectivity, there will be huge opportunity for making existing devices connected using gateways, protocol converters and other technologies.
Cloud Services: Eventually the data generated by the devices are to be consumed by a central platform more likely to be a cloud based one. So cloud business models including SaaS and PaaS are expected to undergo radical changes.
Applications: The algorithms, that are going to understand the data and control the devices, are the most important part of the IoT universe. Hence they are going to be next mobile app store.
IoT are defiantly going to be the trend for a few years. We can expect some major changes in the way we live with these few years because of IoT.
Embien has launched its SkyCase solution for enabling IoT for devices across industry. As the first phase, it supports data collection and visualization using many widgets available. Soon the second phase of SkyCase will incorporate intelligence for manipulating data and controlling connected devices.