Fundamental characteristics that makes the 'Internet of Things' what it is:

By Shan Balasuriya Posted Date: 2014-06-25

The Characteristics of the Internet of Things

The internet of things will revolutionize the way we interact with our devices as well as the way technology influences our lives. Last week we discussed what the 'internet of things' actually means and its implications on the future of online business technology. This move towards better connectivity and data gathering within devices which were once passive will drive both larger and smaller businesses to transform significantly. Today on our technology blog we discuss the main attributes that actually make up the internet of things and what converts a general stand-alone device into a module in the internet of things.

The main attributes features that make the 'things' part of the internet of things:

  • Connectivity: Internet connectivity is either available within the device itself or can be provided by a hub, smartphone or access point (base station). If connectivity is provided by an access point then it is most probably collecting data and operational information from a range of sensors for a specific device and then communicating with the cloud to relay this information.

  • Sensors: Sensors are an important aspect of devices and systems within the internet of things. The sensors monitor, track and measure the activity and interactions of a device and then relay this information using the cloud. Some examples of such sensors include ones that monitor a person's health and fitness or sensors that can detect whether a door has been opened in your house or even ones that monitor usage statistics (eg: for utilities).  

  • Processors: Devices in the Internet of Things will need to have a certain degree of computing power even if it is just to be able to relay and transmit gathered data to the cloud. Like any computing device this will require a processor which will handle such tasks, so all devices connected to the internet of things will have a processor as well.

The above mentioned attributes are all readily available in today's smartphones and tablets; however devices connected to the IoT will need to have certain additional special features which make them a little different like:

  • Security: Devices connected to the Internet of Things may be transmitting information that maybe highly sensitive and regulated, an example is health related or financial data. Since a variety of sensitive data can be relayed by these devices it is very important that there is good data security as this is vital.

  • Energy-efficiency, Quality & Reliability: Devices in the IoT may be operating in severe weather, unforgiving environments and hard to reach places for instance devices operating in outer space or deep inside mines. Since the devices may be operating in such environments it is important that they are made with the highest quality, are reliable and energy efficient (so batteries don't have to be charged or changed regularly). 

  • Cost effectiveness: Things or devices that require sensors to relay useful information may need to be circulated in a large quantity in order to be effective, hence they will need to be cost effective. For instance if it is a sensor attached to food products to monitor the expiry dates, it will need to be implemented into every single product - in addition to being disposable they will need to be relatively cheap to implement.