Internet of Things (IoT) and its applications
The term Internet of things abbreviated as IoT has become very famous in the present era of digital communication and networking. Internet of things basically refers to network interfacing and communication of physical objects, devices and peripherals which can communicate and exchange information between each other without depending on human to human or human to computer interaction.
This advanced communication between equipment via IoT has taken device automation and building management systems to level which used to be a dream only a few years back. Home appliances which can be controlled over a network are called smart appliances. Now you can control your appliances remotely over internet; switching them on or off just by tapping the screen of your smart phone. All this became possible with internet of things (IoT).
Benefits and Applications of IoT:
As explained earlier, IoT is a networking technology which keeps the devices interconnected and hence is helping in their efficient utilization resulting in economic benefits for industries and as well as end-users.
Following are several examples that show impact and advantages of internet of things on industries:
- Smart transport solutions help in management of traffic flow in efficient manner. Transport authorities can broadcast alternative routes and diversions to avoid jams and traffic mismanagement due to any problem like traffic collision, accident, maintenance or development activity. Apart from transport authorities there are many freeware applications available in smart phones which utilize GPS tracking to determine vehicle position, advising shortest possible routes and alternatives (e.g. Google Maps).
- Now a days different power generation sources are connected in a system making a pool of power called smart grid. This smart grid utilized IoT for interconnection of various sources so that each can utilized with its maximum efficiency. For example, a system having solar power and diesel generator set connected will effectively utilize solar energy during the instead of diesel generator when the sun is available. This smart communication between power sources helps in saving fuel and keeping the environment green and pollution free.
- Many machines and electronic devices of modern era come with machine monitoring and maintenance systems. This monitoring and maintenance system keeps track of machine running hours, life of its consumables, health checklist and notifies the user for any upcoming maintenance and repair activity. The advanced monitoring system also let the user identify faults, parts and spares required to rectify the fault. It also suggests list of spares to be kept in stock for upcoming maintenance activities based on machine run time and operational hours.
- Industries use IoT for process management and optimization. With the help of digitally connected machines, goods manufacturing process can be monitored effectively with little or no human intervention. Assembly lines in many factories now fully automated with single point monitoring of entire process by operations staff over SCADA systems.
- Municipalities in developed cities and states are now transforming their infrastructure into “smart cities” by using data-driven systems to run waste management, law enforcement and other programs more efficiently.
Use of smart devices employing IoT in everyday life is also helping people to raise their living standards. Following are few examples:
- Your water dispenser is on low. The dispenser will send you an alert to replace the bottle or order more bottles from the store.
- Smart security systems now enable users to remotely control the locks, turn on / off lights and appliances, air conditioning units helping conservation of energy when nobody is at home.- With the help on smart and secure digital payment options possible via IoT, you can go for shopping cashless without any threat of money snatching and pickpocketing.
There are various technologies available with the help of which smart devices communicate with each other and exchange information. These technologies are broadly categorized into wired and wireless communication. Wireless communication technologies are further subdivided in short range, medium range and long rang wireless communication.
Ethernet, MoCA (coxial cabling) and power line communication (PLC) are commonly used wired technologies for devices’ communication. Wireless communication protocols include: infrared, Bluetooth, Radio frequency identification (RFID), Li-Fi, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, LTE advanced, low power wide-area networking (LPWAN), very small aperture terminal (VSAT) etc.
Data Security in IoT Communications
Data exchange is driving factory of IoT Communications. Hence privacy of data is a very important factor to be considered in adapting digital communication protocols. Data should only be stored in secured clouds for further exchange and processing. Each communication signal should be encrypted before transmission so that integrity of data is maintained and can only be decrypted by intended receiver. Users should have a choice of what data they want to share over digital communication media and should be notified in case of any misuse. IoT companies should gather required data only and discarded it once the intended purpose is served.
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