Components of IoT
IoT is becoming the trend of nowadays. Sooner or later it will not just take over the industrial sector but also impact the daily household. When designing an IoT ecosystem, there are certain factors which we need to bear in mind. Security, devices to be used i.e. sensors, microcontroller, gateways and cloud computing. The devices or “things” play a vital role. Right from a refrigerator door to a coffee machine; will be connected to the Internet. With rapid advancement in technology and 5G’s demand in the future, it is believed by the year 2021, approximately 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet.
What is IoT basically? A network where not only a vehicle, a home appliance like fan or air conditioner but also embedded systems like electronics, software, sensors which enable exchange or transfer of data over wireless technologies like Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Bluetooth etc. IoT in short will reduce human effort and increase our dependency on machines.
In IoT, the major components are Sensors, Gateway or microcontrollers, connectivity, analytics or data processing and cloud computing.
- Sensors: They are the “things” in an IoT system. They are responsible for collecting and transmitting real-time data to the microcontroller. Sensors are used to detect physical changes for example, temperature, humidity or pressure. Here are some features which should be the basis of a good sensor:
- It should not be sensitive to the phenomena it measures
- It should not detect other physical changes apart from its designation for example, DHT11 is designed to sense the temperature and humidity of its surroundings. If it starts determining the luminosity then its problem which needs attention.
- It should not modify the readings during the measurement process.
There are several properties or characteristics one should keep in mind while selecting a sensor:
|Characteristics of a sensor|
|Response and Recovery Time|
- Microcontrollers or Gateways as they are commonly known. Like in a human body the brain controls actions and movements, similarly microcontroller acts as the brain of an IoT system.
Why should we use a microcontroller in an IoT system?
- Simplicity: Programming a microcontroller or a setting up is no difficult job. Also, interfacing sensors with a microcontroller is easy.
- Security: Code is written on a “bare metal” in a microcontroller which results in very little attack and maintains a secure environment.
- Cost: Microcontroller are very cost-effective. With minimum cost they offer you simplicity and security.
Raspberry Pi, Arduino Uno, NodeMCU are a few examples of microcontrollers.
The factors one should keep in mind while selecting a Microcontroller:
- Compatibility: Will our Microcontroller support the sensors/ actuators? Depending upon how sensors are being, you should decide the number ports required.
- Architecture: If your Microcontroller will be able to handle complex programming, what are the functional requirement of your application and also the power it should compute for the application to run.
- Memory: Choosing the microcontroller with enough memory size is of utmost importance, in order to save time and money.
- Availability: A thorough research is a must about the availability of the microcontroller and the quantity. Selecting a correct microcontroller during the initial stages of your project is important which can help scale your application.
- Power: Energy efficiency plays a key role in designing an IoT system. How much power does it require, will it need to be wired or whether batteries are required.
Hence, this component of the IoT needs to be the most secured part as it analyses, processes data from thousands of sensors and acts a gateway to the cloud. Microcontroller (MCU) should also have the capability to host the process, store data i.e. act like a memory and provide a secured operating system.
- Analytics or data processing or Data Analytics play another significant role in an IoT system. Drawing conclusions from big or small data is basically data analytics. It will play an integral part in the development of IoT. The following points enlist the effect it will have on the businesses.
Volume: The shear amount of data to analysed will be huge in an IoT application. Real-time data from many sensors or actuators will require data analytics.
Structure: The data coming from sensors will be structured, semi-structured or unstructured. This will require data to be analysed on a bigger scale.
Revenues: Data analytics will help us provide an insight of what the customer demands and expects from the analytics. This will increase or generate revenues for the same.
Competition: As we know IoT is going to be the future. It provides freedom and better performance. Hence, by offering data analytics, one can upgrade his or her business.
- Cloud computing: If Microcontroller is the brain of an IoT system then Internet is the heart of an IoT system. There are many ways to connect to the Internet for example Wi-Fi, Bluetooth. Cloud computing is a sector vital in the evolution of IoT. If IoT provides the data then cloud provides the path for the data to travel.
Cloud computing’s sole motto is to enable IoT or users to access data from remote parts of the world through its storage option. Also, for the developers to work from different parts of the world. Cloud computing is also economically viable as it has minimum pay charges which depends on the cloud model. For example, Microsoft Azure Cloud Services, in their free trial provide upto 8,000 messages per day. This will encourage IoT companies or start-ups and in turn reduce costs.
Some of the cloud computing platforms are:
Book: Internet of Things by Dr. Jeeva Jose