With more businesses relying heavily on M2M and IoT solutions to lower the costs and speed up time-to-market, in the following post we cover some basic terms related to these buzz words.
Let us look first at the global architecture of the whole eco-system and call a spade a spade
Sensors are the pieces of M2M structure that are a part of things they are connected to. Sensors are there in order to scoop the data and transmit it further down the supply chain. The varied types of info that sensors collect and pass could be your office temperature, altitude, the humidity level in the room your newborn is sleeping, blood pressure of an elderly citizen, as well as a number of steps you made today according to your Fitbit. The beauty of sensors is, first, their affordability: you can find them in surplus in the market. Thus, the prices are not sky-high.
Interrelated intelligent devices, “things” are any object that we can connect to a sensor – it could be your pet, the coffee machine at work, or a truck transporting goods in transit. Things are a.k.a. “machines” are an integral part of a greater web-connected eco-system.
COMMS or Customer Oriented Manufacturing Management Systems:
All the sensors require something to channel the data they gather to the outer space. There’s a number of technologies both wireless and short-range ones to enable that function. What could those be comms? Just to name a few: Bluetooth, Near Field Communication, Wi-Fi, Radio Frequency Identification, and ZigBee etc. As for the cable comms, those are Ethernet that was introduced in 1980, LonWorks, and Home plug among others.
To link the things that are long miles away from each other, wide-area comms (WAN) such as mobile networks and satellite links are used to reach the devices that are located in different cities and countries across the globe. Some modular sensor platforms are worth mentioning, too: Thinking Things by Telefonica Lab, NODE +, and iPhotoXi etc. Along with the ability to bring a variety of machines to one single space, WANs enable things configuration according to the needs of different business sectors whether it is logistics, insurance, manufacturing, or shipping.
Usually installed in any office or company’s data center, a server (or Gateway) is the core of the system that is used to accumulate and keep the information coming from sensors passing it further to virtual storage.
Local scanning device
Machines that have short-range sensors might not be connected to LANs all the time. Thus, to collect a portion of data additional device will be needed. In such a situation, local scanning devices come to the picture to gather the data and pass it further along the chain.
Storage Space and Data Interpretation
Internet of Things will need giant spaces to accommodate the data gathered for its further analysis. Cloud storage is the solution apart from some minor security-sensitive cases with information requiring local storage. Digital storage is a new normal in modern M2M word and will accommodate useful insights gathered through sensors from multiple objects (machines).
User-facing mobile and web apps
This is the last station in the whole data supply chain with the piles of info collected finally reaching the screens of end-users. Today, customer level user interfaces are used to monitor and manage the systems whether business or home-based ones.
Nowadays, M2M is still WIP with no standards for it has grown from multiple business and personal needs we had. However, the potential the industry has is immense.