Under the hat of the Internet of Things fall technologies and applications that provide for the network connection of objects and devices other than the PC, which exchange data generally autonomously and independently from a direct human command.
Connected objects typically have components that fall into the following categories:
- Sensors: cameras, microphones, buttons, barcode readers, temperature, pressure, humidity, heart rate, GPS position, movement, gyroscopes, compasses …
- Actuators: mainly electrical switches and hydraulic valves, also combined to create robotic and automation systems.
- More or less autonomous computing devices: routers, NAS and other connected devices which, although similar to a PC as an operating logic, are designed to be turned on, configured once and then left to work without further intervention.
By combining these components, complex systems are created, such as home automation or automation systems, new functions and services can be added to existing devices (household appliances and diagnostic devices that can be activated and monitored remotely, for example) or invent new product categories: smartphones, smartphones tv, smartwatch, a fitness tracker.
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Internet of Things: Use Cases in Consumer Solutions
In addition to the primary benefit offered to the consumer, the use of the smart device for its specific purpose, the adoption of IoT technologies can allow the manufacturing company to obtain new valuable information to be exploited in the first person, to be transferred to the consumer as value. Added after the purchase of the product, or even monetised through the provision of new services.
Some examples of these secondary benefits are:
- Obtain diagnostic information on the operation of the object to improve maintenance, preventive or after a failure has occurred;
- Obtain information on the actual use of the functions by the consumer, to better focus research and development of new products;
- Acquire data to create market analyses, also to be sold to third parties (following the licenses of use of the products sold), and propose new products or services to the customer in a personalised way, based on the identified needs.
Internet Of Things: Uses In Industrial Sector
In the enterprise, the IoT is used in numerous innovative use cases that in some instances are re-propositions of consumer technologies on a larger scale. Still, in other cases, they are specific applications of the business sector of the company in question. Some of the most prominent examples are:
- Use of sensors on machines and production lines to optimise industrial processes, reduce costs and waste, enable predictive maintenance and improve quality;
- Use of geographical position data of vehicle fleets in the transport of goods and people, also for the creation of new mobility services (car/bike sharing);
- Optimisation of management and maintenance costs (heating/cooling, energy consumption) of large buildings, neighbourhoods or entire cities ( smart cities ).
- Tracking of presences in commercial spaces, for personalised and territorial marketing activities ;
- In hospitals, for monitoring patient parameters ;
- Charging based on the actual use of certain services. For example, in the insurance field, for the creation of personalised policies based on the profile of real use of vehicles or driving habits (compatibly with local privacy laws);
- In the utility field, for the remote measurement of consumption, but also to obtain more detailed information that allows more efficient planning of resources;
- Being able to manage a product/machine remotely, and add level of after-sales service;
- Tracking and inventory of the entire product chain, from the procurement of raw materials to the warehouses of finished products, up to stock in the store.
In addition to providing new functionalities to improve the process, the acquisition of historical data and their analysis, perhaps supported by artificial intelligence systems , creates value that can be used to obtain competitive advantages, but also to introduce new products and services and get to radically transform the company’s core business, for example moving from being a manufacturer of a device to providing its functionality as a service , both to business customers and directly to consumers.
Characteristics Of An IoT Technologies
In the implementation of IoT technologies, it provides an infrastructure that can be articulated on multiple networks and systems. Each part hides critical issues that must be evaluated to avoid security risks, network efficiency and uncontrolled growth of the data collected and the consequent processing and storage costs.
Typically, an infrastructure for the Internet of Things applications consists of the following parts:
- Sensors / actuators
- Connection infrastructure between sensors and data reception
- Optionally, a collector and peripheral data analyser ( Edge Computing )
- Collection and storage of data
- Elaboration, analysis, visualisation and control
Sensors And Actuators In The Internet of Things
Sensors translate physical parameter measurements first into electrical signals and then into digital information.
Among the parameters that can be measured, the most common are:
- Spatial orientation
- Detection of luminosity or other electromagnetic waves and radio frequencies
- Electrical parameters (voltage, current.
Actuators, on the other hand, make it possible to translate a command of electrical or digital origin into action in the physical world. Whether it’s opening a tap, starting an engine or turning on a light bulb, it’s always a switch or a solenoid valve that can be controlled with an electrical impulse.
The connection Infrastructure Between Sensors And Network
The sensors can be directly connected to the IP / internet network, or communicate with a central collector using different wired or wireless systems and protocols. The choice between one or the other depends on various factors, including:
- The distance between the sensors and the collectors
- The amount of data that needs to be transmitted over time (bandwidth)
- The delay with which data can arrive (latency)
- The energy consumption
- Whether or not there is a physical connection (cable)
Communication Protocols For The IoT
- One of the main problems for the diffusion of the IoT is the absence of a single standard for the communication between sensors and central processing. Sometimes different protocols, standards and technologies coexist on the same network. Below we list some of the most popular.
AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol)
- Cellular data
- CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol)
- DDS (Data Distribution Service)
- MQTT (Transport Telemetry MQ)
- Near-field communication (NFC)
- Physical Web
- SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)
- TR-069 (Technical Report 069)
- Web Thing Model
- XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol)