IoT involves the processing of the data collected to derive useful information and support better decision-making. For example, in some countries, rain gauges have been installed to measure the amount of rainfall throughout the year, and the data collected have been analyzed and used to better manage flash floods.

IoT is both data collection and data analysis - building blocks of internet of things(IoT)

Fig. IoT is both data collection and data analysis

Besides data collection and data analysis, the ability to act on the data collected instantly is also an important criterion in deciding if a system is an IoT system. The term Internet of Things or IoT usually refers to the scenarios where normal items of our day-to-day lives are extended with network connectivity and stronger computing capabilities to generate data that could further be exchanged, collected, and consumed with almost no human intervention (on the whole process). Components of our day-to-day lives such as Durable goods, Vehicles, Consumer Products, Utilities, and Sensors when combined with internet connectivity and stronger data analytic capabilities - have promised to transform the way of our lives significantly. 

An IoT system consists of 4 different components which are Sensors, Connectivity, Data Processing, and a User Interface. 

  • Sensors: A sensor is like a component in the IoT system could be just a single device or a combination of various sensors, and devices that collect data from the intended environment. 
  • Connectivity: Connectivity is the important part, as the data collected in this part where it can be processed. Devices may all be connected to the Cloud via various methods such as WiFi, Cellular Satellite, Bluetooth, LAN, WAN and etc. Every device has its own that needs to be thought over before setting up the IoT system altogether. 
  • Data Processing: Once the data is collected through pre-set connectivity, then it is all logical to process this data. Based on the data that collecting, the processing of this will be dependent. For example, if incoming data is temperature then data processing is to check whether it is within a permissible limit or not. 
  • User Interface: Based on the processed data, what are the next set of actions that you want to perform could be checked on a User interface. This could probably be your Mobile application on a phone or a tablet etc.

Building Blocks of the Internet of Things(IoT)

IoT Hardware

The set of devices that respond and have the capabilities to capture data, and follow the instructions can be considered IoT Hardware. The following fall into such categories where they not only collect data but also respond to instructions based on the processed data. 

  1. Chips: Chips contain all electrical and electronic appliances such as microcontrollers, chips, integrated circuits, radio frequency systems, etc. 
  2. Sensors: Sensors, which are one of the base components of an IoT system, have three modules to it - Power Management modules, Sensing modules, and Energy modules. 
  3. Actuators: These devices provide the motion to a data collection system such as the solenoids, comb drives, etc. to fetch details based on movements. 
  4. Standard Devices: Standard devices constitute the generally used devices such as Tablets, Smartphones, Switches, Routers, etc. Each of these devices has its own set of settings that allow them to collect data.

IoT Software 

Software is the set of programs that facilitates the data collection, processing, storage, and evaluation instructions based on the processed data from the IoT Software. Operating Systems, firmware, applications, and middleware are some of the examples that fall into this category, 

  1. Data Collection: Data collection includes a core of the data collection aspects ranging from sensing the data, filtering it, measuring it, aggregating it, and in the end managing 2/ the security of the collected data. It can be performed from various sources, and once done is distributed over devices and then to a central data repository. 
  2. Device Integration: In this category, all components within the IoT system are integrated. It manages all the limitations, protocols, and applications are handled properly to ensure proper communication amongst the devices. 
  3. Real-Time Analytics: Over the collected data and the processing that is done over this data, there can be automated tasks that could run and analyze this data for specific patterns.
  4. Application and Process Extension: This ensures that the data collection process can be accentuated to get the most out of it, from all possible sources, These are more like the enhancers over the existing data collection infrastructure.

We can understand this through the example. The basic architecture of IoT is shown in the diagram.

Basic Architecture - Internet of Things (IoT)

Fig. Basic Architecture - Internet of Things (IoT)

Smart Home 

Smart home solutions are becoming very popular day by day. Design engineers now have access to scalable technologies, while potential users are familiar with the capabilities of smart homes and are ready to buy electronics in the field. Based on the customer's needs, a variety of smart home modifications can be developed: 

Smart Home - building blocks of internet of things(iot)

Fig. Smart Home

The mobile application is synchronized with the control center which controls all smart systems and devices in your home. The smartphone turns into a remote control for managing a smart home and issues all kinds of commands to electronic appliances, both inside the house and remotely. 

Software Components of a Smart Home

There are 4 main software components involved in making the entire solution work: 

  1. IoT Device (Sensor or Actuator) Software 
  2. Gateway Software 
  3. Smartphone App 
  4. Cloud Software

software component of a smart home - building blocks of iot

Fig. 2.4: Software Components of a Smart Home 

  1. IoT Device Software: Most IoT devices, whether they are sensors, actuators, or both. consist of hardware and software. Examples of sensors include cameras, motion detectors, carbon monoxide sensors, light sensors, and other such devices that monitor their surrounding environments. Actuators can be switches, valves, locks, and other such devices that perform a physical action. Because of Moore's law and other advances in technology, even inexpensive IoT devices, today can be fairly sophisticated with powerful microprocessors/microcontrollers running complete software stacks. The primary function of these software stacks is to expose the sensor/actuator to the outside world over a wired or wireless connection. 
  2. Gateway Software: The most popular IoT devices in smart homes or smart buildings today are based on the Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols. These devices consume very little power but have sufficient transmission range. The local networks in homes and buildings are usually based on Ethernet or WiFi. An IoT gateway is used to connect the devices to the home's or building's local network. A gateway can enable just the basic functions of onboarding the devices, exposing them over the local network, and implementing simple time or trigger-based rules. Or as they get more powerful, they can provide more complex capabilities like artificial intelligence to understand sensor data, perform actions based on the understood data, and other higher-level functions. 
  3. Smartphone App: The smartphone has become a very essential part of our personal as well as professional lives. In today's smart home, the smartphone plays an important role. In smart home deployments, a smartphone app is used to perform several functions - onboarding devices, monitoring sensors, turning actuators on/off, and creating rules - both when within the local network and outside it.
  4. Cloud Software: The cloud software completes an end-to-end IoT solution. Cloud service providers like Amazon (AWS), and Microsoft (Azure). Google (Google Cloud), and IBM (IBM Cloud) offer a huge choice of toT platform components that can be used to connect to smart home and smart building deployments to manage, monitor, and control IoT devices. Cloud software can be as simple as an application that creates/manages user accounts and enables outside-in access when users are not in the local network or a comprehensive IoT platform that implements multiple sub-components shown in the figure below.

Fig. IoT Cloud Software