Now that the IoT fundamentals have been established, lets look at the components of IoT. IoT is a concept, it’s not a software or hardware, it’s not a framework to be used.
IoT is made up of the following components –
- Things (sensors and actuators)
- M2M Servers
Things the basic building block of IoT consists of various types of sensors and actuators. These are typically low voltage devices doing specific type of activity. These donot usually have storage, processing power or integration capabilities with other things. All they can do is sense/detect/actuate and send the freshly collected data/status to another device (machine to machine communication).
Gateways, are hardware appliances that also run software. The main function of this IoT component is to collect/receive data from THINGS, store it, process it and send it to another device usually on the internet. This component is to be termed as customer premise equipment and has an user interface (GUI) for the user to configute the THINGS and the gateway itself. For example the user can configure the sensitivity level of an humidity sensor (THING), the default room temperature to be maintained by the THING (AC) etc. The gateway can also be configured to send alarms (SMS or email) to specific numbers/IDs. Additionally the data collected and stored locally usually on flash memory devices can be sent across to external server securely in specific data along with gateway ID, location etc. These are usually commodities sold in the market. On customer procuring the device, calls up the gateway service provider to associate himself with the device – this involves associating CRM data with device ID just the same way it happens with DTH equipment.
M2M Servers, are usually hosted on the internet/cloud (not a necessity) which receive data from gateways, associate it with a customer, store it and provide analytic tools to derive insights. This IoT component is usually a Java/PHP based web application that stores customer information in RDBMS database (not flash storage).
The users of this M2M system are
- Helpdesk folks (Humans)
- gateways (machine to machine communication)
- Customers (Things and gateway owners)
- M2M application administrators (Humans)
- M2M designers, data scientists etc. (Humans)
Since there is no standard data format (not yet) to be exchanged between gateways and M2M servers, there is an activity to be done by M2M designers on the service provider side to design an workflow which involves parsing the incoming string (json, xml etc) over standard protocols (http, https, ftp etc) and then associating it with a customer before storing. It also involves designing notifications based on the package chosen by the customer.
Data scientists on the server side use the THINGS data collected across various customers and derive informative dashboards, insights etc for consumption.
Customers will have access to their gateway(s) data from this portal based on credentials and then can also provide a mobile application to see the same data and also to control their own THINGS and gateways.
More on how to build THINGS and configure M2M’s soon.