This decade, «Internet of Things» respectively «IoT» has proven to be one of the most important phrases in technology. IoT devices have moved past the realm of the novel and entered the realm of the genuinely useful. Some of the Internet-connected appliances that have entered the public consciousness over the past several years include:
- Intelligent thermostats that help us reduce our power consumption.
- Wireless cameras that automatically synchronize videos and photos with the cloud.
- Home automation hubs that control our lights, door locks, coffee makers and other
- Fitness trackers that record our workouts and track our vital signs.
Miniaturization of hardware has enabled us to create IoT devices that do more - and cost less - than ever before. Open-source embedded computers such as Arduino have helped to lower the barrier to entry and enable smart people with great ideas to create the next generation of revolutionary Internet-connected appliances.
When people discuss the Internet of Things, the hardware gets most of the attention. Few
people stop to think about the effort necessary to create these small devices that can do so
many things - all while communicating with other devices made by different companies. It
wouldn't be possible for Internet-connected appliances to have such wide-ranging capabilities without standards for communication and data exchange. We can thank the
Web of Things for the fact that those standards exist.
The Problem: Users Love Multi-Function Devices
To understand why the Web of Things is necessary, you should consider all of the things that
a modern Internet-connected appliance can do. Consider, for example, a wearable fitness
tracker. The features of a fitness tracker might include:
- Gathering data from GPS satellites to track the use's walks and runs
- Connecting to a service such as Google Maps to show the user where she has been during a workout
- Sensing the user's heart rate during a workout and comparing it to other users' heart
rates during similar workouts
- Connecting to an emergency hotline if the user experiences a severe cardiac event
- Connecting to a social media service so the user can share the details of a recent workout
Users expect fitness trackers to do far more than tracking heart rates and recording the
number of steps taken - and consumers' expectations for the capabilities of other Internet-
connected appliances have also increased. The hardware components of a device can
provide sensors, data storage and the ability to communicate wirelessly. None of those
functions can work, though, without software. That's where the WoT comes in.
What does every developer have to consider when planing an I-o-T project ?
What Is the Web of Things?
The easiest way to understand the WoT is to think of the seven-layer Open Systems
Interconnection model. The Internet provides the network layer. The data on the Internet
has no use, though, without software such as web browsers - the application layer - to access and display the data. The WoT includes the software, communication protocols and cloud services that make the features of Internet-connected devices possible. Some common WoT technologies include:
- Support for online communication protocols such as HTML, JSON and REST API.
- The ability to find information and servers online through DNS queries and web searches.
- The ability to authenticate a user and transfer data securely.
- The ability to connect to social networks and share data.
- The ability to display a web-based front end that users can access from their computers and phones.
- The ability to communicate with and accept controls from a mobile app.
A typical Internet-connected device provides many features to the user while communicating with - and downloading information from - a wide variety of online services. That level of interoperability wouldn't be possible without open standards.
Cloud Computing Provides the Resources That Internet-Connected Devices Need
Have you ever stopped to think about how your tiny fitness tracker is able to overlay your
latest jogging session on a map, display your average heart rate and calculate the number of
calories you've burned with so little computing power? The answer is that most Internet-
connected devices don't actually perform their own calculations; they simply gather data
points. Remote computers provide the computational power necessary to do something
with that data - and when a product such as Fitbit needs to perform map overlays and
calculate calories burned for millions of users simultaneously, cloud compunting is the
magic that makes it possible.
Suppose, for example, that you want your fitness tracker to calculate the number of calories
burned during a workout as we've described above. The fitness tracker would need to send
several different types of data to a remote server to describe the distance that you traveled,
the workout duration and your heart rate at various points during the workout. Utilizing
cloud computing, the creator of the device would develop a cloud-based service that would
expose an API for data transmission, accept the data, perform the required calculations and
send the result back to the fitness tracker or its mobile app.
The WoT Is the Next Great Area of Growth for Internet-Connected Devices
Makers of IoT devices have great aspirations. They want to create single devices that
consolidate the features of many other devices - and they want their Internet appliances to
serve millions of people. The next generation of Internet appliances will collect more data -
and do more with that data - than ever. Cloud computing will make it possible. A cloud-
based service doesn't slow down when millions of people access it. The cloud scales
seamlessly when a service requires more computational power or storage capacity. The
cloud enables the modern Internet appliance to provide a great user experience - and it'll
enable the next generation of devices to do even more.
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