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Internet Of Things Technology Stack-Different Technological Layers Of IoT

by Pushp Kumar Dutt on December 19, 2018

If you have been reading a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT) lately but still somewhat confused on how things actually work in an IoT environment, this piece of information is just meant for you.

The Internet of Things can be described as a complete system of interrelated mechanical and digital machines, computing devices, and objects that have their unique identifiers. They also have the ability of transferring data over a network without requiring any form of human-to-computer or human-to-human interaction.

Let us leave on the technicalities and understand the concept of IoT in simple and clear terms.

How you are reading this post right now on the Internet of Things? It might be on a mobile, desktop, or possibly a tablet, or any other device but it must surely be connected to the internet. The Internet of Things is one of the most interesting and exhaustive concepts to read and write about. It means taking all things in the world and connecting them to the internet. Comes the question? Why would you and me have to connect almost everything to the internet? Is that safe? How to do that?

Let's get the ball rolling!

The world of Internet of Things consists of different technological layers that all play a critical role in the route from just connecting IoT device and "Things" to creating applications that serve a predefined purpose. This may be for industry-grade IoT projects or consumer applications.

Let us now have a close look at the technology stack of IoT and the three layers of this stack.

  1. IoT device level: There cannot be the Internet of Things without accurate actuators, sensors, and IoT devices in general. This is simply because there cannot be IoT in the absence of accurate data.
  2. IoT Gateway: The Internet of Things gateways are known to significantly enhance remote monitoring, data consolidation, enterprise mobility, remote system control, secure data exchange, and remote monitoring. An IoT Gateway connects strongly with the IoT device layer that is a must-have level towards the next steps of actionable business applications and data or consumer applications and services.
  3. IoT Platform layer: This is the layer where we connect with the consumer and business applications and services. The IoT Platform layer is also critical in the overall development of these services and the interconnection and management with the IoT device level and IoT Gateway layers.

To sum up, the Internet of Things bridge the gap between the digital world and the physical world and that starts with things. There are different kinds of IoT devices in a broader sense. Some of these devices simply sit at the network edges where the real "connection of things" occur. Others include Internet of Things gateways that enable to actually perform something with the data originating from IoT connected objects or enabled things.

The IoT Technology Stack

The Internet of Things technology stack is a range of standards, technologies, and applications that lead from the mere connection of objects to the Internet to the easiest and the most complex of applications that make use of these connected things and the collected data by them, and the wide variety of steps that are required to power these apps.

There cannot be any likelihood of anything to do with IoT devices and absolutely no reasons to stay connected with the internet without the IoT technology stack. Simply, this stack encompasses all technologies that are required to move from data and devices associated with the Internet of Things to the so-called IoT use cases.

We are just there, just stay with me.

From far, this looks like something really simple but the different layers of IoT technology stack include different options and technologies for IoT projects. Most importantly, it is not about just putting out a combination of the right technologies across the stack but also about doing this in a secure, cost-efficient, and accurate way.

However, there are all kinds of challenges on the levels of interoperability. Moreover, there are also hurdles when it comes to all of these technology elements being able to communicate with each other, since there are different standards. The challenges become more complicated and bigger to the naked eye when existing and traditionally connected devices are brought in.

IoT Devices And Connected Physical Things

The sensors, the devices, the things, and so forth constitute the first layer of IoT technology stack. IoT devices can take many shapes and forms. They can range from actuators to sensors that are usually termed as "intelligent", "next generation", or "smart".

Whenpeople talk about IoT devices, they usually don't refer to actuators orsensors. They usually perceive smart ones as the ones like intelligent activitytrackers, smart thermostats, collaborative robots, health monitoring devices,smart manufacturing assets, etc.

Source: Microsoft

What Are Sensors?

Sensors are known to us long before the concept of the Internet of Things came into existence. We can find different types of sensors in factories, buildings, and much more. In these cases, sensors are parts of the digital data backbone of intelligent and connected solutions. Anything related to IoT and "smart" is built upon sensors and transducers.

Transducers have the ability of converting a signal in the form of energy into a signal in a different form. This, in the context of IoT sensors, means that sensors have the potential of sensing conditions or the environment in or around the IoT device around which they are present and in and around of the physical items to which the sensors are attached.

Moreover, sensors have the ability of detecting the changes or events in the environments and for the wide range of purposes for which they were initially designed. They then communicate about these changes or events of certain parameters to predefined systems and different kinds of devices that can then make use of this data for analysis, action, and so forth.

Events and factors, among the environmental parameters, which can be sensed by the sensors include parameters like temperature, sound, humidity, light, presence of certain gases or chemical components, occupancy, and much more. Sensors are critical components of the Internet of Things and must be precisely accurate as they are the basic foundations from where the data gets captured to begin with.

Benefits Of Actuators From IoT Perspective

Fromthe perspective of the Internet of Things, actuators sit on the controlairflow in a smart building, smart home, or smart room or on the radiator. Thesensor detects that there is no one in the room and the actuatorsthen get triggered to a reduced temperature for stopping an event or thing.

Source: IoT infographic Postscapes and Harbor Research

What Are Actuators?

Like sensors, actuators are transducers. While sensors emphasize on the capabilitiesof sensing and sending, actuators are about acting and activating. The actuatorreceives a signal and then starts to set in motion what is required to be donein order to act within or upon an environment.

In a way, it can be said that the role of an actuator is the opposite of a sensor but as important as the sensors. Actuators, in the scope of Internet of Things, are mostly turning something on or off through the application of force.

All About IoT Gateways

IoT gateways in more than just a way can be categorized under IoT devices. An IoT gateway can be software or hardware and usually a combination of both. Considering the IoT gateway functions, it is however ideal to view them as a separate layer.

IoT gateways play an important role on the intersection of devices associated with the Internet of Things in the strict sense. De facto, IoT gateways are used for encryption, connectivity aggregation, and IoT data decryption. It is also used for translating the different protocols that exist in the landscape of the complete IoT technology, edge computing, aggregation of data, remote control and management, and so forth.

IoT Platforms

The layer of IoT platforms is a broad category of applications that are characterized by different potential features. An IoT platform is a middleware between the IoT gateways and hardware-related layers of IoT devices on one hand and the application and business layers on the other. IoT platforms are not just about technology but also about the user benefits and use cases.

We hope that this article on the Internet of things technology stack and the different technological layers of IoT was useful to you in more than just a way. Keep reading more at the NetObjex Blog.

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