Breaking down the internet of things
The internet of things is a hot topic, but it can also be very confusing to navigate. Often abbreviated as IOT or IoT, the internet of things is a term for smart devices that are all connected to form a large network. These devices can serve any number of different functions. IoT technology can be used in medicine, environmental sciences, and certainly in everyday items in our lives.
Previously these devices would not have contained smart technology; things like fridges, sprinklers, or cars were unable to be connected to the outside world. This was due to the limitations of network, battery, and processor technologies of the time. Many IOT applications involve networks of sensors, monitoring and recording changes in natural or industrial environments.
The technologies of the aptly named Internet of Things are changing the world drastically, and these changes are related not only to high-tech industries or infrastructure, but also to everyday life.
In this article we will tell you what changes are worth being ready for and what IoT products can improve your journey through the world of interconnected devices. Please check out our PDF version for easy download and sharing.
What Is The Internet of things
The term “Internet of Things” (abbreviated IoT or IOT) denotes a network of physical objects (“things”) connected to the Internet and interacting with each other or with the external environment. One of the first known IoT devices was a vending machine with soft drinks, modernized by Carnegie Mellon University student David Nichols. Nichols invented remote connection technology to check the availability of drinks, as well as monitor their temperatures. The signals were sent through ARPANET an early precursor to the internet as we know it, and allowed Nichols and friends to keep a close eye on their favorite beverages.
In the 90s, the technologies that would allow for the internet of things became more popular. Wireless transfers, faster data speeds, and increased data storage abilities allowed for the internet to come to smaller and smaller devices.
Nowadays, billions of devices are sharing information with each other, the world of the Internet of things is growing, developing new technologies, and advanced countries are even preparing a legal framework that will regulate the new information space.
The development of the Internet of Things is improving several necessary and basic areas of human life, for example the health industry. Smart devices already monitor our well-being in several ways: pressure, pulse, temperature and even mood. Some devices are able to analyze the received data and signal when problems are detected. Over time, we will be able to learn about the approaching cold, the risk of a heart attack and other misfortunes in order to take appropriate measures. Imagine if your Fitbit could detect when your energy levels were dropping or your sleep patterns were being disrupted by your diet. In the near future such services will exist, and will have far reaching implications into everyday life.
Safety is key
One of the key tasks of smart things is ensuring our security. Now almost anyone can buy a basic set of devices that will make life much calmer.
A great example of safety provided by internet of things devices: the Ring alarm complete home kit is a turnkey solution for ensuring the security of a house or apartment. You can buy it in on Amazon for around $100. Installation of the system does not require professional assistance, all devices are mounted on a flat surface using 3M tape or dowels. The kit includes a base station, contact sensor, motion detector, keypad, and range extender. The kit includes optional professional monitoring, which does have a fee.
Valuable safety measures like automatically notifying the fire department when a smoke detector sounds, or adding leak sensors to detect flooding in areas prone to water disasters. Sending smartphone notifications to owners, allowing them to asses the situation 24/7 can be a valuable tool in securing personal valuables and family’s lives.
In the near future, voice assistants will begin to play a crucial role in the Internet of Things industry. Already, with their help, you can lock the lock the front door, turn on and off appliances, and even make purchases. According to one of the largest analytical companies in the United States, Nielsen Media Research, almost a quarter of American families already use at least one voice assistant, and 40% of them own several digital assistants at once.
The Future of IOT
IoT has become a global trend, and soon the possibility of “internetization” will become a requirement for consumer goods and services. Devices will come off the pipeline with already built-in intellectual and communication capabilities.
Companies are ever increasing the scale of production and cheapening the component base, which is reducing the cost of devices to a minimum. IoT penetrates cars, soil, sea and rivers, and into the human body. The sensors will become so miniature that they will be placed in small household items or food.
As battery technology advances IoT devices will be powered by different technologies; devices drawing power from solar, seismic, or other yet undiscovered sources will allow for implementation into environments never before imagined. IoT devices could be implanted organically into forests, or even living organisms in order to monitor critical functions completely passively.
The Internet of Things has the potential to become a heterogeneous environment that will exist as a separate entity, but as for now it is still limited by traditional internet and battery technologies.
Cars require their WiFi
If you look at predictions about the “number of IoT devices by 2020”, it is clear that the IoT industry is growing. Engineers are no longer interested in how many sensors and smartphones will be online, it could be 50 or 100 billion, the numbers need to be fluid and scalable. The order is already clear, as is the goal – connecting the “army” of devices to the Internet.
Many protocols were developed for data transmission, but each of them was “sharpened” for a specific task: GSM/CDMA for voice communication, GPRS for data exchange from mobile phones, ZigBee for creating a local network and managing smart homes, and Wi-Fi for wireless local area networks with high data rates.These technologies can be applied to solve non-target tasks and cope with them in different ways, but they do not present ideal mediums for IoT connections at that large of a scale.
Gaining momentum, the Internet of Things puts forward its demands:
The requirements of the internet of things are vastly different than the devices we have traditionally been used to:
Small amounts of data: sensors and sensors do not need to transfer mega- and gigabytes, as a rule, these are bits and bytes.
Energy efficiency: the vast majority of sensors are autonomous and will have to work for years.
Scalability: Millions of different devices should get along in the network, and adding one or two millions should not cause difficulties.
Global: devices need a wide territorial coverage and as a consequence the transfer of information over long distances.
Signal strength: devices in basements, mines, and other hard to reach places must also transmit a signal to the outside.
Cost of devices: devices must be cheap and accessible to the user, and ready-made solutions are cost-effective for business.
Simplicity: the principle of “set and forget”: the user will need to easily interact and set up the device
It would seem that cellular networks are obvious candidates for building a wireless IoT environment deployed over a large area. However, the infrastructure and communication technologies used for cellular data were not originally created with the internet of things in mind. Cellular communications protocols are designed to communicate with people: a large amount of traffic and high speed data exchange in densely populated areas. This is almost the opposite of the demands of the developing internet of things network.
Developers of new technologies often design for specific problems. The developers of today’s connection technologies did not anticipate the possibility of exchanging small amounts of data between separated “smart” sensors. We are not ready to change batteries in dozens of devices every month or install wired power systems to them.
Connecting to mobile networks may work for devices located inside urban centers, but what is to be done about projects requiring large geographic areas? Several challenges to the use of existing technologies need to be overcome before the IoT can become widespread.
In the city, cellular communication is limited by low signal penetration. And “smart” sensors or counters will often be located behind several walls, underground, or in other obstructed areas. Couple this with challenges for far reaching projects, and the IoT may be in trouble.
A communications standard with wide territorial reach, high energy efficiency, cheap infrastructure and low maintenance costs must be in place before the IoT can be developed on a large scale.
LPWAN – the concept for the future of IoT
Given the listed requirements and limitations, the solution to the problem was the use of technology at the junction of high range and low energy consumption. It is called the Low-Power Wide-Area Network (abbreviated as LPWAN) or an energy-efficient long-range network.
LPWAN was developed specifically for machine-to-machine communication, and became the engine of the long-range Internet of things.
The lack of high requirements for the amount of information transmitted allowed us to concentrate on other, more important parameters of the technology and provide a 50-kilometer distance of interaction between separated devices, high energy efficiency, penetrating ability and scalability.
Comparison of wireless data transmission technologies
Long-range and energy efficient, LPWAN is excellent for IoT, both in the domestic and industrial sectors, where there is a need for autonomous telemetry transmission over long distances.
LPWAN is much better suited to the requirements of IoT networks than the same cellular connection – thousands of square kilometers can be covered by one base station. Building such a network is easier, and maintenance is cheaper. Networks of sizeable physical range will be limited by current technologies, and will require connection mediums far beyond the traditional protocols available today.
The advantages of LPWAN technology fit well into the needs of large-scale IoT implementation in industry, transport, security and dozens of other industries. Long range, high endpoint autonomy, easy deployment of an LPWA network, and low infrastructure costs will push large-scale projects and the development of the Internet of Things
IoT is changing the rules of the game in certain industries as it penetrates into previously impossible or inaccessible areas, improving the quality of life, and increases business efficiency. IoT technologies have found applications where they are profitable for business and convenient for people.
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