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How IoT Communication Works: Explained

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Oct 31, 2023
  • RFID
How IoT Communication Works: Explained

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of interconnected devices that can communicate with each other and exchange data but unlike machine-to-machine communication, IoT utilizes wireless, internet-based communication to allow communication over a long range.

 IoT communication involves the transfer of data between two or more devices, enabling them to work together and perform various tasks. The communication techniques vary depending on the devices, technology, network standards, gateways, user interface as well as cloud applications and network servers. 

Let’s take a detailed look at how IoT communication takes place. 

IoT Devices

First of all, you need physical IoT devices to enable IoT communication. Internet of Things connects these physical devices to the digital world. IoT devices can range from small sensors to large industrial machines. These devices are equipped with embedded sensors, actuators, processors, and transceivers that enable them to interact with the physical environment and collect data, which is pretty much the need. 

Local Communications

IoT devices communicate with neighboring devices through local communication channels such as Bluetooth, Zigbee, Sigfox, LoRa, and NFC (Near Field Communication). The method of communication used depends on the specific architecture and requirements of the IoT system.

Application Protocol for IoT Communication between Devices

The application protocol defines the framework for how information content is transported between IoT devices. It specifies the rules and formats for data exchange, ensuring compatibility and interoperability between devices. Prominent IoT application protocols include MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport), CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol), and HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).

Gateways

Gateways play a crucial role in IoT communication by translating and re-transmitting information between local device networks and the Internet. They act as intermediaries, allowing devices that use different communication protocols to communicate with each other. Gateways also provide security features and manage data transmission to ensure reliable communication. For example, for BLE communication, you need a BLE gateway to facilitate communication between a BLE beacon and a BLE-enabled device, say a smartphone. 

Network Servers

Network servers are responsible for managing the acceptance and transmission of IoT data. They receive data from IoT devices through gateways and process it for further analysis or storage. Network servers are typically located in cloud data centers and handle the scalability and reliability requirements of IoT systems. Network servers form a significant portion of the total cost of IoT implementation. 

Cloud Applications

Cloud applications process the data received from IoT devices into useful information. Businesses use such applications to perform data analytics, generate insights, and provide visualizations for users to monitor and control IoT devices. Cloud platforms, such as Microsoft Azure and AWS, offer services and tools for developing and deploying IoT applications. Alternatively, cloud application development and integration with existing ERP/CRM can be done using on-demand development services. 

User Interface

The user interface is one the most important aspects of IoT infrastructure as it provides a convenient way for users to monitor and control their IoT devices. The user interface allows people to interact with IoT information, manipulate it, and issue commands back to IoT devices. This can be through web-based dashboards, mobile applications, or voice-controlled assistants.

Communication Channels in IoT

IoT devices can utilize various communication channels to exchange data. 

Some commonly used communication channels in IoT include:

Wireless Communication

Wireless communication technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and cellular networks (2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G), enable IoT devices to communicate without the need for physical connections. These wireless channels provide flexibility and mobility for IoT deployments. Since most IoT devices are often battery-operated low power consumption is crucial for long-duration communications. Therefore various low power wide area networks (LPWANs) such as LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, Sigfox, etc. have also been developed. These are very significant in low-cost IoT deployments in remote areas. 

Wired Communication

Wired communication channels, such as Ethernet and Powerline Communication (PLC), use physical cables to connect IoT devices. Wired connections can provide higher reliability and security compared to wireless communication, making them suitable for certain IoT applications.

Satellite Communication

 In remote areas or applications that require global coverage, IoT devices can communicate through satellite networks. Satellite communication enables IoT connectivity in areas where traditional terrestrial networks are unavailable or impractical. Moreover, satellite-based IoT communication is also effective in outdoor IoT deployments such as smart city projects and wide area tracking of moving objects or individuals. 

Protocols in IoT Communication

IoT communication protocols define the rules and standards for data exchange between devices. These protocols ensure that devices can understand and interpret the data transmitted.

Here are some commonly used protocols in IoT communication:

MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport)

MQTT is a lightweight publish-subscribe messaging protocol designed for constrained devices and low-bandwidth networks. It is widely used in IoT applications for efficient and reliable communication between devices and the cloud. For example, the MQTT IoT messaging protocol allows RFID to behave like an IoT, allowing data sharing/ communication over the cloud. 

CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol)

CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol) is a specialized web transfer protocol designed for resource-constrained devices and networks. It enables IoT devices to communicate using RESTful principles, making it suitable for constrained environments with limited resources. CoAP is best suitable for small and medium-scale businesses, allowing resource planning and business process optimization at low-cost IoT implementation. 

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)

 HTTP is a widely known protocol for communication between web browsers and servers. In the context of IoT, HTTP can be used for device management, data retrieval, and control operations through the web. HTTP is commonly used in IoT applications that leverage web-based interfaces.

AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol)

AMQP is a messaging protocol that enables reliable and secure communication between devices and applications. AMQP provides features like message queuing, routing, and security, making it suitable for IoT scenarios that require robust and scalable communication.

HART (Highway Addressable Remote Transducer)

HART is a bi-directional communication protocol used in industrial automation, allowing data access between intelligent field instruments and host systems, typically using a combination of analog and digital communication channels. It is widely used in IoT-enabled CPS (cyber-physical systems) allowing intelligent manufacturing and process optimization. 

Notably, the choice of protocol depends on factors such as the specific use case, device capabilities, network constraints, and security requirements.

 

To conclude, IoT communication involves the seamless exchange of data between devices through local communication channels, gateways, network servers, and cloud applications. The use of different communication channels and protocols enables IoT devices to work together, collect and analyze data, and provide valuable insights for various applications. With the rise of cloud servers, cloud operations, and various IoT technologies, IoT is bound to grow exponentially with around 30B connected devices around the globe by 2030.

 

 

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.


  • Created on Oct 31, 2023
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