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Internet of Things (IoT)

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(Angel Island State Park, San Francisco/Bay Area, U.S.A. - Jeffrey M. Wang)


The Internet of Things (IoT) - the vast electronic web of connected devices which rapidly collects, aggregates and processes information across superfast networks. The transformative potential of IoT technology is no secret. It represents a fundamental shift in the very nature of the smart “things” we depend on for many aspects in our lives. These tens of billions of “smart” collection devices range from light bulbs, to door locks, to power meters and beyond. Future Internet is expected to be driven by the prevalence of Internet of Things (IoT) where it is envisioned that anything can be connected. 

IoT has started to shape into reality from its hype by and large due to recent advancements in ubiquitous technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)/Near Field Communication (NFC), Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN), high speed communication (4G/5G), Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), etc. Advanced developments in the sensing and actuating technologies also contribute to the rise of the IoT popularity.

Virtualized networks, cloud computing and the data center will play a vital role in making the IoT a success. The data from all those devices will be critical to existing data center infrastructure because it will represent a massive increase in the amount of data and connected nodes to the network. The cloud will play a key role in IoT because it can connect many of these devices, some of which will have very low intelligence or functionality. Data analytics will be vital because all the data collected from these devices will lead to the development of smarter applications for industrial and consumer businesses.


The Objectives of the IoT


The fundamental objective of the IoT is to obtain and analyze data from things (devices) that were previously disconnected from most data processing tools. This data is generated by physical things (devices) deployed at the very edge of the network - such as motors, light bulbs, generators, pumps, and relays - that perform specific tasks to support a business process. The IoT is about connecting these unconnected devices (things) and sending their data to the cloud or Internet to be analyzed. 

The influence of the IoT reaches across an entire ecosystem of things from consumer products to advanced manufacturing automation solutions. From industry to industry, IoT solutions impact the way companies design, manufacture, operate, and service products, as well as, redefine and optimize existing business processes across the value chain.


IoT Standards and Protocols

Internet of Things (IoT) consists of smart devices that communicate with each other. It enables these devices to collect and exchange data. Besides, IoT has now a wide range of life applications such as industry, transportation, logistics, healthcare, smart environment, as well as personal, social gaming robot, and city information. Smart devices can have wired or wireless connection. As far as the wireless IoT is the main concern, many different wireless communication technologies and protocols can be used to connect the smart device such as Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPAN), ZigBee, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Z-Wave and Near Field Communication (NFC). They are short range standard network protocols, while SigFox and Cellular are Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) standard protocols.

[Postscapes]: Rather than trying to fit all of the IoT Protocols on top of existing architecture models like OSI Model, we have broken the protocols into the following layers to provide some level of organization:

  • Infrastructure (ex: 6LowPAN, IPv4/IPv6, RPL)
  • Identification (ex: EPC, uCode, IPv6, URIs)
  • Comms / Transport (ex: Wifi, Bluetooth, LPWAN)
  • Discovery (ex: Physical Web, mDNS, DNS-SD)
  • Data Protocols (ex: MQTT, CoAP, AMQP, Websocket, Node)
  • Device Management (ex: TR-069, OMA-DM)
  • Semantic (ex: JSON-LD, Web Thing Model)
  • Multi-layer Frameworks (ex: Alljoyn, IoTivity, Weave, Homekit)

Please refer to [Postscapes]: IoT Standards and Protocols for more details.


Pervasive and Ubiquitous Network


[Cisco]: The Internet of Things (IoT) can be defined as "a pervasive and ubiquitous network which enables monitoring and control of the physical environment by collecting, processing, and analyzing the data generated by sensors or smart objects."

In reality, Machine-to-Machine (M2M) can be viewed as a subset of the IoT. The IoT includes Machine-to-Human communication (M2H), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Location-Based Services (LBS), Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) sensors, Augmented Reality (AR), robotics and vehicle telematics. Many of these technologies are the result of developments in military and industrial supply chain applications; their common feature is to combine embedded sensory objects with communication intelligence, running data over a mix of wired and wireless networks. 


Embedded and Distributed Intelligence Capability


The capability of embedded and distributed intelligence in the network is a core architectural component of the IoT for three main reasons:

  • Data Collection: Centralized data collection and smart object management do not provide the scalability required by the Internet. For example, managing several million sensors and actuators in a Smart Grid network cannot efficiently be done using a centralized approach.
  • Network Resource Preservation: Because network bandwidth may be scarce and collecting environmental data from a central point in the network unavoidably leads to using a large amount of the network capacity.
  • Closed Loop Functioning: For some use cases, the IoT requires reduced reaction times. For instance, sending an alarm via multiple hops from a sensor to a centralized system (which runs analytics) before sending an order to an actuator would entail unacceptable delays.

This distributed intelligence capability is known as Fog Computing, an architecture specifically designed to process data and events from IoT devices closer to the source as opposed to a central data center (also known as "Cloud"). In summary, Fog Computing is an expansion of the cloud paradigm. It is similar to cloud computing but closer to the ground. The Fog Computing architecture extends the cloud out into the physical world of things.


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