IoT- The Connected Things

IoT- The Connected Things

By 2020, over 20 billion connected things will be in use across a range of industries; the IoT will touch every role across the enterprise. These IoT Platforms are the key for the development of scalable IoT applications and services that connect the real and virtual worlds between objects, systems, and people.

As the IoT Platform market represents a truly new segment that was almost non-existent a few years ago, the landscape is complex and changing very quickly. The uses and technologies of IoT are evolving rapidly as the limit of what is possible continues to expand. The aim of deploying IoT is to reduce costs, improve efficiency and create new business models through physical products, services, and data analysis. Business models that take advantage of the IoT are already emerging, such as pay-as-you-drive insurance, machine uptime as a service, smart lighting, usage-based jet engine services and remote healthcare.

According to a research by Forbes, IoT-related value-added services are forecast to grow from $50B in 2012 to $120B in 2018, attaining a 15.71% CAGR in the forecast period. An insight from Cisco predicts USD 14.4 Trillion market by 2022. According to a Vodafone study, more than 37% organizations are running projects related to M2M which will go live by 2017.


While the Internet of Things is by far the most popular term to describe the phenomenon of a connected world, there are similar concepts that deserve some attention. Most of these concepts are similar in meaning but they all have slightly different definitions.

M2MThe term Machine to Machine (M2M) has been in use for more than a decade and is well-known in the Telecoms sector. M2M communication had initially been a one-to-one connection, linking one machine to another. But today’s explosion of mobile connectivity means that data can now be more easily transmitted, via a system of IP networks, to a much wider range of devices.

Industrial Internet (of Things)The term industrial internet is strongly pushed by GE. It goes beyond M2M since it not only focuses on connections between machines but also includes human interfaces.

Internet of Things (IoT)IoT has yet a wider reach as it also includes connections beyond the industrial context such as wearable devices on people.

The Internet(as we know it)In the above graph, the internet is a fairly small box. In its core, it connects only people.

Web of ThingsThe Web of Things is much narrower in scope as the other concepts as it solely focuses on software architecture.

Internet of Everything (IoE)Still a rather vague concept, IoE aims to include all sorts of connections that one can envision. The concept has thus the highest reach.

Industry 4.0The term Industry 4.0 that is strongly pushed by the German government is as limited as the industrial internet in reach as it only focusses on industrial environments.

However, it has the largest scope of all the concepts. Industry 4.0 describes a set of concepts to drive the next industrial revolution. It includes all kinds of connectivity concepts but also goes further to include real changes to the physical world around us such as 3D-printing technologies, new augmented reality hardware, robotics, and advanced materials. Most of these segments carry the name “smart” like Smart Home or “connected” like Connected Health. Today’s major applications include:

Smart homeSmart Home or “Home automation” describes the connectivity inside our homes. It includes thermostats, smoke detectors, light bulbs, appliances, entertainment systems, windows, door locks, and much more. Popular companies include Nest, Apple, Philips, and Belkin

WearablesWearables Whether it be the Jawbone Up, the Fitbit Flex, or the Apple Smartwatch – wearables make up a large part of the consumer facing Internet of Things applications.

Smart CityThe smart city spans a wide variety of use cases, from traffic management to water distribution, to waste management, urban security, and environmental monitoring. Smart City solutions promise to alleviate real pains of people living in cities these days. Like solving traffic congestion problems, reducing noise and pollution and helping to make cities safer.

Smart gridsA future smart grid promises to use information about the behaviors of electricity suppliers and consumers in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, and economics of electricity.

Industrial internetMany market researchers such as Gartner or Cisco see the industrial internet as the IoT concept with the highest overall potential. Applications among others include smart factories or connected industrial equipment. In 2014 GE reported roughly $1bn revenue with Industrial Internet products.

Connected carThe battle is on for the car of the future. Whether it is self-driving or just driver-assisted: Connectivity with other cars, mapping services, or traffic control will play a part. Next generation in-car entertainment systems and remote monitoring are also interesting concepts to watch. And it is not only large auto-makers that play a role: Google, Microsoft, and Apple have all announced connected car platforms

Connected Health (Digital health/Telehealth/Telemedicine)The concept of a connected health care system and smart medical devices bears enormous potential, not just for companies also for the well-being of people in general: New kinds of real-time health monitoring and improved medical decision-making based on large sets of patient data are some of the envisioned benefits.

Smart retailProximity-based advertising, In-store shopping behavior measurement, and intelligent payment solutions are some of the IoT concepts of Smart Retail.

Smart supply chainSupply chains are getting smarter. Solutions for tracking goods while they are on the road, or getting suppliers to exchange inventory information are some of the Supply chain applications as part of the Internet of Things.

Smart farmingThe remoteness of farming operations and the large number of livestock that could be monitored makes farming an interesting case for the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things builds on three major technologies: Hardware (including chips and sensors), Communication (including mostly some form of wireless network), and Software (including data storage, analytics, and front-end applications). These key technologies primarily include:

Sensors and ActuatorsSensors are devices that detect & respond to some type of input from the physical environment and actuators are devices responsible for moving and controlling the mechanism. Sensor energy into electrical data. By contrast, an actuator transforms electrical data (e.g., electrical, electronic, electro-mechanical, electro-chemical) into interesting, useful data.

Our smartphones are full of transducers — the camera and microphone are sensors whereas the speakers and screen are actuators. Similarly, Jawbone and Fitbit are sensors that generate data about steps; the Hue is an actuator that emits light; and, Nest has both, it senses temperature and motion, and also actuates (turns on and off) the furnace.  Sensors are available in two type, analog or digital with a wide range of properties such as long or short range, passive or active sensor etc.

MicrocontrollerIt is a self-contained system with peripherals, memory and a processor that provides interfaces & protocols such as wired (UART – RS232, RS485, RS422, GPIO, USB) or wireless (Wi-Fi (802.11), Bluetooth, ZigBee (802.15.4), X10) protocols to communicate with the sensor.

GatewayIt provides an interface between sensor platform and rest of the IoT ecosystems. Gateway provides various functions aggregating data from diverse sensor platforms, sending (routing) data to appropriate places in the IoT processing engine, etc. The gateway provides the capability to communicate with the Interface Device on one side and the rest of the IoT system with protocols such as HTTP, REST, MQTT, CoAP, DDS, AMQP, XMPP, etc. MQTT and CoAP protocols are used for communication between microcontroller and Gateway and are very popular because of their ability to work with the resource-constrained devices. 

StorageThe overall volume of the data generated is huge because of a large number of sensors and devices in the IoT system. To be effective, this data needs to be processed at (near) real-time speeds. Often, a combination of different databases is used in order to get the required functionality with satisfactory performance, e.g., NoSQL databases for fast data ingestion (to handle the velocity) and HDFS/Hadoop for handling the large volume processing in an offline manner.

AnalyticsIt provides the ability to process continuous streams of data and calculate rolling metrics, aggregate statistics, event correlation, trend analysis, predictive analysis, etc.

IOT ApplicationApplications use the data and insights extracted by the analytics engine to realize the true value of the end-to-end IoT. An example for such application is smart city traffic management which could alert authorities about congestions, adjust traffic signal timings dynamically to smooth out the traffic flow and inform commuters to avoid congested roads.

There are plenty of different technologies and competing products for each of component part of IOT stack. From MEMS accelerometers to Raspberry Pi development boards, from Zigbee communication to next generation LTE-M, and from column-based databases to streaming analytics engines. Each of these concepts, technologies, and products could fill a whitepaper on their own. IoT applications for different Industries are evolving day by day with a rapid growth. 



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