by May 20, 2014 0 comments

IoT is expected to be the next big revolution after the World Wide Web. It aims to create a seamless network of billions of wirelessly identifiable devices that can communicate over the Internet. These devices could be anything, right from things that we encounter in our daily lives, like different types of machines and appliances, to the buildings that we live in, the cars we travel in and so on.

All these things can become effective members in business, information and social processes where they can connect and communicate among themselves and with surroundings by trading information and responding autonomously to physical world events, triggering actions and services with or without immediate human intervention. This sort of connectivity implies that more data can be collected from more places for better analysis and decision making.

What are these ‘things’ made up of? What makes them tick? Let’s find out.
The Tech Behind IoT
Several technologies are involved in making the Internet of Things possible. First is identification. Since there will be billions of devices that will connect to the Internet, each one requires a unique identification. This is only possible if they’re IPv6 enabled, as the current IPv4 network has depleted its universe of IP addresses.

Next, an IoT device needs to sense, which is possible by putting sensors that measure various aspects of an object. The object needs to have the ability to communicate what it has measured with the outside world. This world could be the Internet, or other similar objects around it.
Lastly, what’s required is a central server where data from all these objects will be collected for analysis. It could be an application or an appliance that can download all data, and allow the user to control, manage, and analyze it.

Identification Tech for IoT
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): This technology needs no introduction. It has been around for ages, and is still used very widely for identifying various objects. The tech uses radio waves to accomplish communication between the data from an electronic device for the objective of identifying and also to locate and sense the environment around.

Quick Response Code: Short for QR code, this is a machine readable visual label that contains information about things to which it is affixed. It uses 4 standardized encoding modes viz. numeric, alpha numeric, byte/binary to effectively store information about those things. A QR Code on any device/things consists of black segments organized in a rectangle which can be read by QR software. Nowadays smartphones act as QR code readers, which interpret the code and extract information from it. QR codes can also be used to track where the thing has been scanned and find its location.

Communication Protocols Used
Things must communicate with each other. Data then must be collected and sent to a remote server, indicating device information or the environment around it which if required is sent back to devices with other information to trigger various decisions or actions. For this purpose various protocols are used.

Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT) is a protocol to gather device data and communicate it to the IT infrastructure and servers. Large networks of devices can be controlled or monitored with it. The protocol works on top of TCP providing a reliable stream of data flow.

Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) is a protocol used for connecting devices to people. It’s an alternative to the D2S protocol, as people are connected to servers. XMPP provides a great way for example, to connect your home thermostat to a Web server so that you can monitor it from your smartphone. This protocol is ideal for consumer-oriented IoT applications.

Data Distribution Service (DDS) is a device-to-device communication protocol. It shares device data with other devices over a network. DDS provides effective ways to filter and choose exactly which information goes where.

Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) is a queuing protocol used to link web servers to each other. In IoT, AMPQ is suited for server based functions.

Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) is a protocol developed to be used in electronics devices allowing them to communicate interactively over the Internet. It is primarily focused on low power sensors, switches, valves and similar components that need to be controlled or accessed remotely, through standard Internet networks. CoAP works on application layer to be used in resource-constrained internet devices, such as Wireless Sensor Networks and WSN nodes.

IPv6 and the Internet of Things
Without public IP addresses, IoT capability would be greatly reduced. IPv6 spreads the addressing space in order to support all growing Internet-enabled devices. IPv6 has been designed to provide secure communications to users and mobility for all devices attached to the user. It has been regarded as the most suitable technology for IoT as it provides scalabililty, end to end connectivity, extended address space, etc. IPv6 integrated with Internet of Things can bring the world to a whole new level of interoperable devices leading to smarter cities, intelligent transport systems, advanced healthcare, etc. When all things can be represented by IPv6, we can ensure that makes use of IP protocols such as MIPv6 for mobile mobility and IPSec for security.

Other Protocols and APIs Used
IoT uses the REST API architecture and JSON, Java programming languages to function. The REST API is a platform that defines a set of principles by which web services can be developed to focus on a system’s resources, such as how the resource states are addressed and transferred over HTTP by a wide range of devices. REST is mostly used in smartphone applications, and automated business processes.

Xively REST API: This is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) for the Internet of Things. Xively makes it easier for interconnecting devices, data, people and places, to create powerful alternative solutions that will transform how people experience their world.

Devices/Hardware Available to Build Internet Connected Hardware in IOT
Developing an internet connected thing requires both hardware and software. With devices like Spark Core, Smart Things, Nest, WeMo, etc, designing a hardware that communicates with software and software that communicates with hardware can be achieved. We’ve given a detailed comparison between various popular hardware devices in a separate article of this story.

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