Now that you know what IoT does, it’s time to familiarise yourself with the steps involved from one end to another.
It is the technical version of a Chinese whisper where information is passed on from one end to another. This chain of passing the messages consists of sensors and actuators. Simple devices that only require measurement of sorts do not need an actuator because the actuator is the component that acts on the information that is picked up by the sensor. For e.g. A pollution monitoring system will not need an actuator. An interface to display the recorded information at the destination end point will suffice.
The components of the chain depend on the complexity of its intended function. IoT enabled devices are not just built to record and analyse data. It’s designed to be consumable by the user who may be a layman when it comes to technology.
And to make it consumable, it needs to be easy to use. This can be achieved with an easily navigable interface design which displays all information in a succinct manner.
Depending on the requirements of the user, sensors can employ different technologies to execute its assigned task. It may be electrical, electronic, electro-mechanical or electro-chemical. The output signal can be analogue or digital i.e. the interface may use physical quantities to display reading or digital ones.
The interface controller is hardware that connects the sensors and enables them to communicate. The interface controller may be of the wired or of the wireless variety. Wired controllers are cheap but cover only short distance. Wireless ones cover large distances but cost more than the wired ones.
The gateway is the worker bee in this equation. They do most of the hard work by intercepting ‘messages’ and carrying them to the relevant output device like a computer or a mobile.
IoT enabled devices collect data. A LOT of it because of the very nature of its existence. A high volume of data must be collected at high velocity which must be matched by an equal processing speed to provide real time information.
The data may also be required at various stages of processing like pre-processed, processed and analysed data. All these factors must be considered when choosing the storage device. Often different databases are combined, to fit the user’s requirements.
Like the database, the analytics engine needs to process at super speed to give results at real time. It must have the capacity to multi task and juggle constant data streams, calculation commands, correlation equations and analysis.
One of the biggest benefits of IoT is the ability to customise the components and control features of the device. If the components are collectively the brain of the device, it’s interface is the language that allows the user to interact with it. The user interface is usually presented to the public in the form of web applications or as apps for mobile or desktop platforms, whichever is convenient.
The significance of an IoT enabled device lies in how the output can be used. Avoiding downtime, alerting the user to a particular change, operational efficiency are just few of the purposes served by IoT.