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Revue TELECOM 178 - Internet of Things technologies

Articles Revue TELECOM





Par Hakima Chaouchi dans la revue TELECOM n° 178
From first appearance the Internet of Things gathered since then different technologies, architectures, devices for different applications and services, are we following a convergence path as the classical Internet ?

Internet of Things basic concepts

We started hearing about Internet of Things (IoT) in telecommunications in 2005 thanks to the ITU (Internationl Telecommunication Union) report on IoT that first time appeared un 2005. Now different forecast predict around fifty billion objects/devices to be connected in 2020 building different IoT services. Before that the Auto-ID lab from MIT working on product codes and automation in the product distribution industry has started using the word Internet of Things in their objective of digitizing the product distribution process and introducing the use of a very old technonoly that is RFID for wireless identification and trancking of products. Internet of Things can be defined as the possibility of acquiring, interpreting, physical stimuli information from the environment and this by interconnecting via different devices using different technologies able to acquire physical world unformation. Based on the objectives of the Internet of Things applications, the acquired information might serve as a monitoring service or proceed with some actions via other devices automatically. The telecommunications operators would offer the network to transport the traffic generated by those devices, they also will see an opportunity by offering the display of processed information on smartphones where specific registration accounts for the devices ans the Internet of Things applications are seen as new source of revenue of the Internet network which was at the first place designed for the traffic generated by the person related applications such as the web, the email, the video streaming, etc.

The Internet of Things compared to the classic Internet will contain the devices/objetcs with specific functions such as sensing by Sensors, acting by actuators, identifying by identifiers such as RFID (Radio Frequency identification), and location by locators with GPS (Global Positioning Systems). In addition to those information acquisition technologies, the communication technologies will be necessary for the transmission of that information to servers/applications that will be able to process them and provide some decisions and actions. Other technologies such as robotics, and nanotechnologies might be involved in certain Internet of Things applications.

About the Thing/Object/Device

Internet of Things is in an age where we spend lot of efforts around the object ressources such as the memory, the processor and communication technology choice that is enregy friendly and memory and processing friendly. The cloudification is seen as an immediate rescue of the object's lack of ressources.

Different processing boards are proposed from the proprietary solutions such as Intel, Texas Instruments and other to the open sources such as Arduino, ESP8862 and others.  Different communication modules and resources are possible where the designed object/device will match the application needs. System on Chip (SoC) are getting more interest with Internet of Things as new integrated circuits are getting designed to offer the optimized behavior of the chip related to the emergy consumption, the memory and the processing resource. Silico Lab is one of the examples that we can site on the SoC initiative building energy and resource friendly Chips for IoT Devices.

In addition to the choice and selection of the right microcontroller board for the Internet of Things object, there is also a choice to be made related to the operating system to run on that microcontroller. Différent industrials have made a strategic decision to build the future OS of IoT devices. Once again the OS of IoT devices are build to offer better energy  consumption and resourcce utilization on the device/object. There are OS also optimized for real time sensors in addition to the energy consumption.

About the communication in IoT

Regarding the communication technology, it can be wired or wireless, but also selected if it is energy and low resources friendly. Zigbee (IEEE 802.15.4) was one of the first technologies désigned fo the communication of sensors with the low energy consumption. Later Bluetooth (IEEE 802.15.1) which was designed for short range communication is now optimized for low energy based tansmission and it is named Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE, Bluetooth 4.0), WIFI (IEEE 802.11) is also working on new versions for low energy consumption to be proposed for IoT communication of devices. Finally Cellular Networks are also working on new technologies for long range transmission of IoT devices, one can site SigFox technology based on Ultra Narrow Ban (UNB) and the LORA inittiative which is supposed to build the right gateways to allow the cellular networks to transport the IoT devices traffic directly over the mobile network.

The future 5G technology initiative is working on the design of the future cellulas network which is supposed to offer 1Gbps to take care of the IoT traffic that will be generated by different applications of different verical sectors such as health industry, Energy distribution, Industry automation, distribution product chains, the car industry and others The M2M or Machine to Machine tern will be used in the context of IoT applications where the devices will be equipped with SIM cards to offert the possibility to identify the object before communicating with the server which will provide certain confiiguration or action such as in the car industry where each car is equipped with a controller which will communicate directly with the servers of the manufacturer.

About the services in IoT


The first applications of Internet of Things were related to the automation of the inventory and the tracking of objects mainly with RFIDs, then we have seen applications related to monitoring and surveillance using sensing devices, then we had applications using localization systems to offer new IoT services and finally applications related to the process automation where actuators can be activated based on different source of information. Securing the traffic at different layers is needed especially for the remote actuating. Building services on top of the Internet of Things objects will follow different approaches knowing that the objects might be heterogeneous and the standardization is not yet finalized to in-sure interoperability in using different devices from different manufacturers. In fact different industrial initiatives are active to standardize the process acquisition from the devices and the application processing of that information. Different gateways are designed to be able to interpret and process signals coming from different IoT objects and hide the heterogeneity to the applications of the IoT services.

The event driven approach is one of the mostly supported where application servers in the cloud will register to events that might be generated by devices, an abstraction layer that need to be standardized will be the intermediate between the heterogeneous devices and the application servers. One can cite the ALLSEEN, THREAD, Home Kit, One M2M, IPSO and other initiatives. Classical Internet standardization organization such as the IETF is also standardizing different protocols for low resources communicating devices such as 6lowPan, the optimized IPv6 stack for sensors, ROLL and RPL optimized routing protocols, and CoAP the optimized application layer protocol. IEEE is also actively working on optimizing its wireless technologies for the IoT needs and making sure they are standardized, same for cellular networks standardization bodies. Different industrials are also offering cloud based platforms to host the IoT needed servers that need to be connected via Internet to receive information from different devices of the IoT and proceed with some needed actions, one can site ThingWorx for the Industrial IoT, OracleIoT, and others.

The future Internet of Things

We need to finish this first phase of Internet of Things device and communication based on short range and long range communication technologies and gateways deployment, then we can build different innovative services related to different application areas such as smart cities, smart energy, smart building, Intelligent Transportation Systems, health and well being, etc. the Standardization has an important role to prevent all the interoperability issues, and the devices/object design will follow the optimization of system on chips and the operating systems to be energy and resource friendly. New technologies are also under design for building autonomous sensors using energy harvesting to be independent of the battery. More work is needed on the heterogeneity management of the IoT. Cloudification of IoT is one of the ways to build services rapidly on low resources and heterogeneous devices. New services based also on inference algorithms will take advantage of the big amount of information that will be made available thanks to the IoT devices. New security and safety techniques will have to be developed and privacy tools will be adapted to the IoT communication services to make the acceptance of these technologies by the end users. New business models will be designed to include also the user as new IoT applications can also use the sensors available on the smart phones, but for that new incentives have to be offered for users, in that case we talk about crowdsensing. Finally urban sensing might use other technologies such as social networks where sensing information can be distributed using social networks and inferring maps related to some events can be constructed based on the acquired information.

Biographie de l'auteur

Hakima Chaouchi is a Full Professor at Institut Mines Telecom following the completion of her PhD in 2004 from University of Paris VI in France and Kingís College of London in the UK. In this capacity, she develops leading research in wireless and mobile communication, Internet of Things, Big Data, and network security. She is managing the Doctoral Training Centre in Paris (DTC) hosted by IMT from the European initiative EIT Digital, which provides innovation support at the doctoral level in a strong connection to the industry. Concurrent with these positions, she is enrolled in the International Executive MBA ìLeading Innovation in the Digital Worldî at Telecom Business School contributing to the innovation and entrepreneurship in ICT with different industrial partners. To date, she has co-published more than 100 international refereed scientific papers and books, most notably the book ìInternet of Thingsî in 2010.

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