The Internet of Things is a model a decade in the making. Exactly 16 years old, the possibility for an ‘Internet of Things’ didn’t quite enter the public eye until the 70s, when it was referred to as ‘embedded internet’, or ‘pervasive computing’.
First crafted as the IoT in 1999, by Kevin Ashton, the official system concept revolves around the idea of embedding sensors, alarms, and actuators into physical objects or devices, using wired and wireless networks that follow the standard IP protocol to communicate with each other and execute certain tasks.
Here is a detailed introduction on how the IoT works, the purposes it serves, and the perks that come with implementing it.
How Does IoT work?
Two decades ago, accessing the internet was far more limited than it is today.
What began with PCs, smartphones, and tablets has now extended to smartwatches, ACs, alarms, doorbells, thermostats, smoke detectors, and other smart devices, all of which can be easily connected to the internet, and therefore, monitored remotely.
Formerly, we used the internet to connect with people and interact with one another. But, as humans continued sharing mass information, the prime idea behind the IoT became to gather information from a variety of devices, connected under similar data – all without having to adjust the information or update it manually.
This process is otherwise known as Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence.
Internet of What Things?
The Internet of Things basically refers to the internet of devices. These things, or devices, are differentiated by the complexity of the data model. Some devices are constructed after a large data model, whilst other devices are based on small and simple data. Connected cars or gas pumps are perceived as complex because they are constantly connected on the internet, and their complexity lies in the challenge of controlling them. Due to their constant connectivity on the internet, these devices are able to generate a pack of information. Large things are constantly powered, which makes them even more difficult to control.
A thermostat, for example, belongs in the small and simple ‘things’. Therefore, they are less challenging to control, as they are usually powered by batteries and generate simple information. Thermostats, for instance, measure the temperature gradually – from hot to cold – which makes them work based on a set-and-get functionality.
To retrieve certain information, say, that your thermostat is still on, there is a background protocol that takes place. This protocol can be narrowed down – from the effective exchange of information between devices to accurate information processing – all of which can be tracked via receiving phone notifications. The IoT architecture which triggers the work of components is what makes the process possible in the first place.
The IoT Device Architecture
IoT devices have a specific architecture consisting of 4 layers.
The first layer is the IoT devices, which can then be separated into two main groups: general devices and sensing devices. General devices are the main components of the data hub and information exchange. Home appliances are a great example of general devices and are connected either by wired or wireless interfaces. Sensing devices, on the other hand, include sensors and actuators, which help measure temperature, humidity, and light intensity.
The second layer is called IoT Gateway or Aggregation Layer, and this is where the communication happens, typically via an MQTT protocol. IoT devices are connected to the network through gateways, with wired and wireless interfaces such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and gsms being the main connectivity providers. The gateways can also be found under processing nodes because they process information collected from the sensors before transferring it to the cloud.
The third layer is the cloud, also called the processing engine or the event processing layer. This cloud consists of numerous algorithms and elements relevant for data processing displayed on the dashboard. The cloud can be perceived as both storage and a processing unit.
The fourth layer is API Management or application layer and it acts as an interface between a third-party application and an infrastructure.
Finally, this entire blueprint is backed by device managers and identity, as well as access managers intended for the security of the architecture, especially in terms of cyber-attacks.
Smart Homes Are The Best IoT Examples
Smart homes have installed many IoT devices and appliances. Some of these appliances include smart curtains, thermostats, house alarms, and coffee machines, among others. Smart homes are created to make our lives easier and help us keep up with today’s accelerated pace of life.
In the morning, during sunrise, light-sensitive sensors will sense the information and transfer it to the gateways, before processing it on the cloud, where other devices can gather the same data. Once they do, the communication will go off. Practically, this is when the bedroom curtains will open, and the coffee machine will make you a fresh cup, ready to sip. Even the thermostat in your bathroom will turn off in time, so you can safely take a shower.
To sum up
The curtains, thermostat, and coffee machine will all communicate with one another so that your daily activities can be facilitated and simplified.
By gathering only one piece of information, light-sensitive sensors enable all home devices to work cohesively and serve more than one purpose.
This is the beauty of today’s technology, really – the technological ability to encourage inanimate objects to communicate with each other, exchange information, and interact, all in an effort to oil the wheels of everyday life.