Enabling Technologies

 General audience classification icon  General audience classification icon
In this chapter, there is an approach to describe modern technologies that appeared in the last few years, enabling the idea of IoT to be widely implementable. In the [1], one can read that “The confluence of efficient wireless protocols, improved sensors, cheaper processors and a wave of startups and established companies made the concept of the IoT mainstream”. Similar analysis has been done in [2] where authors write that “the latest developments in RFID, smart sensors, communication technologies and Internet protocols enable the IoT”. RFID and smart sensors need the microprocessor system to read, convert the data into digital format, and send it to the Internet using the communication protocol. This process can be done by small- and medium-scale computer (embedded) systems. These are essential elements of technologies used in IoT systems.

Edge class devices

In recent years, one can observe rapid growth in microprocessors. It includes not only the powerful desktop processors but also microcontrollers – elements that are used in small-scale embedded systems. We can also notice the popularity of microprocessor systems that can be easily integrated with other factors, like sensors and actuators, connected to the network. Essential is also the availability of programming tools and environments supported by different companies and communities. An excellent example of such a system is Arduino. Those devices are low-power, constrained devices, usually battery-powered and, in most cases, communicating wirelessly.

Fog class devices

The same growth can be observed in the advanced constructions comparable to low-end computers. They have more powerful processors, memory and networking connectivity built in than small-scale computer systems. They can work under the control of multitasking operating systems like Linux and Windows and embedded or real-time operating systems like FreeRTOS. Having many libraries, they can successfully work as hubs for local storage, local controllers and gateways to the Internet. Raspberry Pi and the nVidia Jetson series are examples of such systems. This category of devices frequently contains hardware accelerated (such as GPU) AI-capable solutions, e.g. nVidia Jetson Nano or Xavier series. Those devices can be battery or mains-powered. Often, they are green energy powered: e.g. with a larger backup battery and energy harvesting solution (such as solar panel).

Access to the Internet

Nowadays, the Internet is (almost) everywhere. There are lots of wireless networks available in private and public places. The price of cellular access (3G/4G/5G) is low, offering a suitable data transfer performance. Connecting the “thing” to the Internet has never been so easy.

IP Addressing Evolution

The primary paradigm of IoT is that every unit can be individually addressed. With the addressing scheme used in IPv4, it wouldn't be possible. IPv4 address space delivers “only” 4 294 967 296 of unique addresses (2^32). If you think it's a considerable number, imagine that every person in the world has one IP-connected device – IPv4 covers about half of the human population. The answer is IPv6 with a 128-bit addressing scheme that gives 3.4 × 10^38 addresses. It will be enough even if everyone has a billion devices connected to the Internet.

Data Storage and Processing

IoT devices generate the data to be stored and processed somewhere. If there are a couple of sensors, the amount of data is not very big, but if there are thousands of sensors generating data hundreds of times every second. The cloud can handle it – the massive place for the data with tools and applications ready to help with data processing. Some big, global clouds are available for rent, offering storage, Business Intelligence tools, and Artificial Intelligence analytic algorithms. There are also smaller private clouds created to cover the needs of one company only. Many universities have their own High-Performance Computing Centre.

Mobile Devices

Many people want to be connected to the global network everywhere, anytime, having their “digital twin” with them. It is possible now with small, powerful mobile devices like smartphones. Smartphones are also elements of the IoT world, being together sensors, user interfaces, data collectors, wireless gateways to the Internet, and everything with mobility features.

The technologies we mentioned here are the most recognisable. Still, there are many others, more minor, described only in the technical language in some standard description document, hidden under the colourful displays between large data centres, making our IoT world operable. In this book, we will describe some of them.

A special note on Fog class and Edge class devices

Technology development instantly shifts devices between categories. A border between Fog and Edge class devices is conventional; many can share both worlds. It depends on their purpose, application and performance configuration; thus, Raspberry Pi can be an end-node (Edge) class device and a Fog class, working as a data aggregator and analytical device.

[1] Ovidiu Vermesan, Peter Friess (eds.): Digitising the Industry, Internet of Things Connecting the Physical, Digital and Virtual Worlds, River Publishers Series in Communications, 2016
[2] Ala Al-Fuqaha, Mohsen Guizani, Mehdi Mohammadi, Mohammed Aledhari, Moussa Ayyash: Internet of Things: A Survey on Enabling Technologies, Protocols and Applications, IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials, Volume: 17, Issue: 4, 2015
en/iot-open/introduction/overview_of_the_enabling_technologies_behind_the_iot.txt · Last modified: 2023/11/23 16:08 by pczekalski
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