Internet of things

Internet of things:How does it work?

internet of things



 From industrial machines to wearable devices –animate or inanimate object- now all of them have got the power to chat! Thanks to the advent of IoT in the human world. But exactly what it is, and how does it really works; very few of us know.  Let’s start with it.

On this earth, Humans started their lives with zero; later on they invented things to accomplish their needs, and then came the internet, followed by IoT or “Internet of Things”-exploding every day. Now very soon Internet of things is going to be Internet of everything!

What is internet of things or IoT?

Putting simply, IoT is a network of physical devices with built in hardware and software- capable of sending and receiving data on a network – continuously in stream- following various communication protocols. It’s a latest technology concept based on the convergence of already existing technologies.

So, what’s new in it?

The building blocks of IoT were already there but the aspects which are `more interesting in IoT is its data analytics technology. In traditional way- what was happening-data was getting stored and then it was analyzed.

  • In IoT, streaming data continuously passes through already stored analytical methods and algorithms. This way it makes much easier to read and examine patterns of interest & behavior of events in real time!
  • Before the data goes to cloud servers, its gets processed automatically.
  • So reading and examining part of data/information goes on all the time while the physical devices continue with the process of sending and receiving data in a loop.
  • Plus the devices in IoT are working on very low energy

How IoT Started?

The phrase “internet of things” was first capsulated by Kevin Ashton- one of the founders of Auto-ID Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  He used this term as part of a presentation he made to Proctor & Gamble while trying to use RFID for managing P&G’s supply – chain.

From 1991-2016: A brief history of IoT

IoT has acquired a mammoth shape not in a year.  From long back it has been in the making. Though in subtle way but it reminds us of its happening in terms like M2M, Telemetric Systems of the early 20th century, radio waves, satellite communications. Using telemetry, encoded data was first transmitted in 1912 via phone lines from a power plant in Chicago to head office.

In 1991 Tim Burners-Lee, broadcasted world wide web- humans started connecting and very soon the whole world became part of that cool network. Now it’s bizarre not to be on the network!

Web became more powerful, high speed network entered our lives, followed by wireless technology. At the same time microchips and other computing devices started contracting until they secured their place in mobile devices.

Then it reached a stage when smart phones of today can be on the network through WiFi or cellular services, chat with other Bluetooth enabled devices running on low energy and similar other communication methods meant for machine interaction in a local environment.

How IoT works?

Most of the IoT devices have a radio to send and receive information without wires with an antenna attached to it. They adhere- IoT wireless protocols to perform some basic services-

  • to work on low energy,
  • use low bandwidth and to
  • Communicate on a mesh network.


Why IoT devices work on low energy?

Some IoT devices rely on electrical systems for power whereas there are some which works on batteries. There are some who uses both electrical wiring as well as radio. Using both gives an extra amount of reliability. As they remit and receive very small amount of data they don’t require high energy.

What is mess network?

As per Google” a mess network is a network topology in which each node relays data for the network. All mess nodes coordinate each other in the emission of data to the network. In communications network the term Topology is used to describe the arrangement of network, connecting lines and nodes.

Why mess network is required for IoT devices?

In mess network, the transmission range can be anything- from 30 feet to plus 300 feet.

  • Devices running on mess network have the capacity to connect with huge number of sensors (in thousands) over a wide area.
  • Mess network has the additional advantage of working even in case any individual device fails to co-operate.
  • Z-Wave Alliance, Zigbee Alliance and Insteon are part of the wireless mess IoT Protocols.

Role of Cloud in IoT

Cloud is a term used to refer internet based services. It is an array of connected computers, which facilitates us to send processing operations and storage data from our systems to the other end.

People are forecasting that by 2020, there will be 21 billion connected Iot devices. No doubt, these smart devices will generate huge amount of data. As per an estimate there will be 5200 gigabytes of data per head by 2020!

There are can be two ways of storing and processing such data:

  • Some of them can manage on their own by installing big servers or data centers.
  • Whereas other may seek the help of third parties to store and process their data as they don’t have the capability to setup the complete infrastructure.

The processing and managing of such data will require large data centre-which you can also refer as cloud.  To manage and store data of millions and billions of IoTdevices we need to setup 340 application servers in a day! Here comes the role cloud computing in IoT.

Cloud has contributed immensely to the capability of small devices to come on the network. The cloud enables the collection and analysis of data makes it possible for the user to see through the events happening at his home, office or in vicinity and to take due action through his smart phone which acts like an access point.

How the devices get connected to internet in IoT?

The devices in IoT get connected to internet by sending information to our smart phones or to any other hardware device installed in our home- playing the role of a hub following local communication technologies:

  • Bluetooth
  • Bluetooth low energy
  • NFC-Near field communication
  • IEEE 802.15.4
  • Zigbee
  • Z-Wave
  • 6low-Pan
  • Thread
  • WiFi

Connection can be established directly through the router or modem or WiFi. Other wired ways such as Ethernet, cable or electrical lines can also be used. Cellular communication can also be used which can entirely overrule your home and local network.

Major components of IoT devices

IoT devices contain certain computing hardware, processors embedded with programmed software, sensors- to read temperature, motion, moisture, light, body movements, and communication hardware to remit and receive signals and RFID tags. They also require power connection to function. In future power can also be sourced to devices without wire that is wireless power.

In most of the events, devices in IoT will operate & process on their own, based on the programmed software installed underneath. In some cases they may also offload the data to cloud servers for processing.

The most interesting thing about IoT is that the process of sending and receiving plus processing of data happens in real time.

As IoT is a huge world, it may be possible that I might have missed some of the connecting dots. So as I often do, I request you to help me your ideas and suggestions. As a reader you add lot of value to it, so come and share it me, if you can. Scroll down for the comments section and share what you want!

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