Updated: May 25, 2017

Beginners Guide to the Internet of Things

What is The Internet of Things?

There seems to be several different definitions of what the Internet of things is.

There is also an alternative phase being used by Cisco who call it The Internet of Everything .

From what I can gather the Internet of Things relates to physical devices like sensors,machines etc whereas the Internet of Everything includes IOT devices as well as non physical devices.

This is similar to the Web and the Internet. The terms tend to be used interchangeably but the web is really a part of the Internet

See ioe-vs-iot-m2m-whats-difference-does-matter

IOT Definitions

Here is a quick overview of  some of the most common.

What is the Internet of Things? –Wiki

The internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data

Internet Society Overview –pdf

The term Internet of Things generally refers to scenarios where network connectivity and computing capability extends to objects, sensors and everyday items not normally considered computers, allowing these devices to generate, exchange and consume data with minimal human intervention. There is, however, no single, universal definition

RFC 7452


IOT Sectors

The IOT will affect many areas of day to day life. The main sectors are:

  • Home
  • Health medical
  • Fitness and wellness
  • factory and industry
  • Agriculture
  • Cars and roads
  • Cities
  • Data Processing and the cloud

IOT Phases of Development

The growth of the IOT is expected to go through several stages of development.

  • Passive – RFID sensors etc –
  • Active- Responds to sensor data
  • Aware- can make choices based on data.
  • Autonomous -e.g. self driving cars

We are currently in the Passive phase.

Things – Sensors and Devices

In contrast to computers and tablets which are the main devices currently connected to the Internet.

Internet of things devices will be:

  • Low Power- Power usage and computational Power.
  • Low cost
  • Wireless

Examples are Simple sensors – temperature, pressure etc

IOT Networking

The Internet of things will utilize the existing networking infrastructure, technologies and protocols currently used in homes/offices and on the Internet, and will introduce many more.

Protocols are designed to operate at a particular level in the networking stack. TCP/IP uses a 4 level model and we will discuss IOT networking using this model.

However because of the requirement for low powered end devices there will be major developments in the Wireless connectivity protocols.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are being actively developed for low powered applications and there are new connection technologies like ZigBee, 6LoWpan and Thread.

All of these technologies are LAN/PAN technologies suitable for homes and offices.

The main Connectivity technology over long distances is currently the mobile phone technologies 3G and 4G.

These are expected to continue to play an important role but there are also new technologies like SigFox and Lora that may or may not break through. See Wireless technologies for the IOT

At the networking level IPv6 is set to become the standard.

At the application level there are a host of new protocols. Some have been available for a long time like ,HTTP and MQTT, whereas  others have been developed especially for the IOT e.g. COAP.

See IOT Messaging Protocols guide

The Cloud

The cloud will have an important role to play in the IOT as it will enable companies to create networks and store data without having to build the infrastructure themselves.

This will enable IOT services to be developed much quicker, and at lower cost than using traditional in house systems and services.

IOT Videos

This Ted talk video covers the basics of what it is. It covers the requirements for a thing to become part of the Internet, and goes on to look at IOT applications.

Here is a useful Overview Video that covers possible applications.

Related Tutorials and Resources:



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