IoT comprises of three components
- A device
- Platform to receive and manage the data
Devices come in many shapes and forms however at their heart they comprise of various components to achieve functionality. GPS, temperature, humidity, movement, accelerometer, pressure, air quality, water monitor, electricity monitor etc…
The application of the device is where the real power of IoT shines. While the underlying technology remains partially static, it’s cost allows for it to be deployed in a massive number of different environments. Successful deployments go from gas bottles in residential houses to factories wanting to keep track of their assets to shipping companies tracking the number of loads they have done.
Devices can be placed on ordinary objects and supply data about the objects. Since the device is connected to the internet and processed used advanced algorithms the same device can be deployed for a multitude of eventualities. As a simple example, you can install a basic motion detector. The alarm companies use them all the time. When armed, if it detects movement it sends an alert to say something is wrong. An IoT motion sensor can be deployed anywhere because it is a self-sustaining unit. If it went into the back of a delivery truck you could once again send an alert when it detected movement. On the other hand, if the device was placed in an elderly persons house instead of sending an alert when movement was detected it could send an alert when no movement was detected. Same device but a completely different application.
The next component is connectivity. One of the beauties of IoT technology is how dynamically it can get connectivity. Opensource base stations, Bluetooth, wifi, gsm or new generation mobile connectivity. Although the best connectivity benefit is the extraordinarily low data usage costs. The devices send through the absolute minimum amount of data allowing in some cases up to 10 000 devices to be connected to a single base station spanning kilometers. The base station needs a miniscule internet line.
Once a device is connected to the internet it no longer needs to do any complex processing allowing smaller and cheaper devices with longer battery lives.
Once the data is received by the backend systems the real smart work can begin. Essentially the brains behind the IoT device sits in the platform. The platform transforms the device data into functional usable data. Since the backend data is a separated process to the device you can design your platform to both track assets outside a specific area, or keep them inside a specific area – and it all really depends on what you need. If we again use my above example of motion detectors. The device is sending a signal every time it detects movement. The platform will look at the data and decide (this house has had no movement for a period of time – send an alert) or this truck is stationary at night and no one has recently sat in the driver’s seat so send an alert.
In the end, IoT is all around us. We have many devices that can connect to the internet and give us information. The real change is that the devices are giving us information as opposed to us determining what we want.
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