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Internet of Things (IoT)

Updated on March 6, 2014

Fig 1.Internet of things and apps


In this new era, we have seen the emergence of a unique kind of global data system that interconnects people, services or applications. The planet Earth itself, natural systems and human systems have always generated an enormous amount of data and signals, but until recently, we weren't able to hear it, to sense it, to capture or control it. Now we are capable because all of these sensible signals have been measured using Micro Processing Units (MPUs), sensors and other technologies.

Internet of Things (IoT) [1] describes a vision where objects, sensors
and humans become part of the online Internet community, where every object is
uniquely identified and declared by a network-based address, and always-accessible
to the network, its position and status known. IoT is a type of data fusion
process where many sensors are deployed on target systems such as homes,
cities, personal

Fig 2: Interconnections over internet cloud

  • Devices or human body signals to track a specific behavior, statistics are collectively reported online in a periodically pattern and actions are taken to control objects.
  • Recently, a question is rising and accelerating every second, “what will really happen when things, homes and life becomes smart?”, daily life will be completely changed to much safer and easy [2], while your driverless smart car will automatically check for the oil change and goes to mechanic on a regular basis or pre organized appointments or even when your smart home will record your daily habits of lightening, appliances to be turned on or off where and when and hence automates the process using best practices techniques to achieve optimal energy consumption.
  • Hence, the IoT definition is just three words “Sense, Fuse, and Act” (SFA).

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Key Technologies of IoT

  • IoT will need multiple serving technologies to be widely enabled.
  • Once again, IoT is defined as successive steps for getting specific information about specific target.
  • This process passes through four major phases [3] on collecting and tracking the required information. Each phase will require a key technology to serve a specific end to end application e.g. High radio frequency IoT applications can’t be used along with hospitals smart systems since biomedical devices may be negatively affected.
  • Hence IoT is based on some key technologies and the per technology characteristics are defined per target application of the IoT. It is a closed cycle here.

Sensing Layer Technology

  • A lot of sensing methodologies can be employed to collect data information from short or long range coverage. But a major technology has proved effectiveness to be the most standardized and common sensing technology for IoT. It is the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.
  • It uses radio waves to identify people or objects. There is a device that reads information contained in a wireless device or “tag” from a distance without making any physical contact or requiring a line of sight since Radio waves reflect and scatter forming many non-line of sight paths taking the an advantage for covering a small area that communication channels will have multiple strong paths and hence all-time connectivity is possible.
  • RFID technology has two major components, RFID reader and tag. RFID reader has two main parts, a transceiver and an antenna. The transceiver generates a short term radio signal [4] that may have a range from a few feet to a few yards. This signal is necessary to activate the second component, whereas the tag is transmitted through the antenna.
  • The signal is a form of energy that can be used to power the tag hence RFID tags may have no internal power source. A transponder converter is a part of RFID tag that turns radio frequency into usable power energy; in addition to that it is responsible for sending and receiving messages.
  • The amount of information that the tag stores can vary, for example they can store about 1024 bytes of information. This might not seem much information and in fact it is not. However, my full name, address, phone number, birthday, social insurance number, place of birth and mother’s maiden name is only 130 bytes of information in plain text.
  • That’s enough information to steal my identity. These passive tags have an unspecified lifetime, at least a few decades.
  • Hence the overall operations can be that, a reader transmits electromagnetic waves (EMW), thereby generating an electromagnetic energy field and supplying the transponder of the tag with its minimum sensible energy levels.
  • The individualized data stored in the memory of the RFID transponder can be read out and/or modified. While reading/writing, the reader’s software controls the actual process.
  • The tags have two types of transporters, active and passive; Passive transponders are exclusively activated via the electromagnetic field of a reader while the active transponders have their own power supply.

Fig 3: M2M communication over conventional LTE network where a machine type communications (MTC) are used for communications without hu

Transmission Technology

  • The target is to make all equipment’s and smart devices (Things) to be all-time connected to a communication network. Currently, wireless communication networks are available everywhere using mobile relays and small cell coverage’s [5] as specified in the LTE advanced standards (Lte Rel12). This defines a new type of communications and access technology which is called machine to machine (M2M) technologies [6] where three major types of communications are defined to be executed over the normal mobile wireless networks but without any human intervention:
  • Communications between sensors and the decision makers where meters/sensors report the measured data to the decision maker.
  • Communications among multiple calculation agents within the decision maker where the Decision maker may comprise multiple calculation agents. Based on the measured data, the decision maker may perform the decision making calculations by leveraging calculation agents with cloud computing or distributed computing technologies [7], and each calculation agent keeps exchanging temporal calculation results with other calculation agents.
  • Communications between the decisions maker and the action executor since, after accomplishing calculations, the decision maker announces the set of actions to corresponding action executors.

Fig 4: Cloud based infrastructures

Application Technology

  • Internet of Things (loT) is a concept that envisions all objects around us as part of internet. loT coverage is very wide and include variety of objects like smart phones, tablets, digital cameras, sensors, etc.
  • Once all these devices are connected with each other, they enable more smart processes and services that support our needs, economies, environment and health. Such enormous number of devices connected to internet provides many types of services and results in huge amount of data and information.
  • Cloud computing [8] is a model for on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable resources (e.g. compute, networks, servers, storage, applications, services, and software) that can be easily provisioned as Infrastructure as a service (laaS), software and applications as a service (SaaS).

Security Technology

Unfortunately, as Technologies advance and things have gotten smaller, faster and more connected, security threats to them and their users’ information have also evolved.

Many efforts and many technologies are presented in order to maintain information security such as through the development of cryptography and security protocols.

Although passive tags of RFID don’t seem to involve a lot of security risk since they aren’t susceptible to active attacks such as viruses and malware that are aimed for computer systems.

The main threat is that if the information can be read on the middle of M2M communication, it could be read by anyone and put to any use.

IoT Applications

IoT has evolved thousands of practical applications in different fields of daily life and they mainly can be sampled as follows:


Early Detection of Childhood Disease: Pneumonia is the number 1 killer of children worldwide with 2 million deaths each year and illness is treatable and preventable, but accurate early detection is the key. Currently, measuring breath rates involves nurses and doctors counting using a minute timer or even using beads, methods that are susceptible to errors and could cost a child the chance to receive medicine in time. To reduce child mortality due to Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI), the Smart Object Sensing Array invented by Guardit contracted with the global NGO Project HOPE to create a device to aid in the efficient detection of tachypnea, an indication of pneumonia in children, based on Libelium’s e-Health Sensor Platform.

Fig 5: Inspire wearable platform

How Inspire wearable platform work?

  • A healthcare worker places the INSPIRE device on the child at the
    sternum, against the skin, and presses the start button; at the end of the test
    it will beep and display a count.
  • The test may be repeated for assurance. Once
    respiratory rate is displayed, diagnostic indications for age and breath
    rate are provided on the device. The device records the respiratory rate for a
    given minute.

Industrial Control

Car to Car communications and collision avoidance systems (CAS): Pre-collision systems place small radar detectors near the front of the car where they constantly send out quick bursts of high-frequency radar waves These waves will bounce off the nearest objects and return to the sensor, where a separate unit connected to the sensor calculates how long it took for the signal to leave and bounce back With this information, a processing unit can determine another car's position, distance, speed and relative velocity almost immediately

Fig 6: Smart Cars, Collision avoidance system (CAS)

Iot Technology Major Challenges

IoT is considered a big data technology since there will be thousands of thousands of applications and objects communicating with each other’s on daily bases, the question arising is about the current capacity of the current wireless networks e.g. LTE and LTE-A [9], will they be able to handle this amount of periodic data?

IoT is very sensitive to breach of confidentiality and security of information because the transferred information over the M2M communication link might be very private and personal and sniffing on it will be an enormous security risk.

To conclude, achieving full interoperability should be the goal at hand for thousands of different IoT applications that need a unified system or an additional intermediate protocol layer added to the main OSI IP based model [10] for the sake of maintaining the system modularity and to handle all types of higher level applications over the conventional wireless networks.

[1] Louis COETZEE, Johan EKSTEEN, “The Internet of Things – Promise for the Future? An Introduction”

[2] Reuters, “8 Ways the 'Internet of Things' Will Impact Your Everyday Life”,

[3] Zhonggui Ma, Xinshang, Xinixi Fu, “The Architecture and Key Technologies of Internet of Things”

[4] L. Dong, K. Lue, “Research on application and implemented RFID in modern logistics”

[5] Ian F. Akyildiz, Elias Chavarria-Reyes, David M. Gutierrez-Estevez, Ravikumar Balakrishnan, John R. Krier “Enabling next generation small cells through femto relays”

[6] Shao-Yu Lien and Kwang-Cheng Chen, Yonghua Lin, “Toward Ubiquitous Massive Accesses in 3GPP Machine-to-Machine Communications”

[7] R. E. Kahn, “Resource Sharing Computer Communications Networks,” Proc. IEEE

[8] PrahladaRao B. B, Payal Saluja, Neetu Sharma, Ankit Mittal, Shivay VeerSharma, “Cloud Computing for Internet of Things & Sensing Based Applications”

[9] Lu Tan, Neng Wang, “Future Internet: The Internet of Things”

[10] G¨otz Peter Gallert, “Mapping Network Protocols to Layers of the OSI Model”


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    • WestelCS profile image

      Tim Anthony 3 years ago

      Internet as a global village is the strongest medium and example of unified communications. Whether it is business communication services or business VoIP phone services, or even technical support services, internet makes every communication medium strong and effective.