2commThe Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging topic of technical, social, and economic significance, which encouraged Santosh Kulkarni and Prof. Sanjeev Kulkarni to research the IoT communication models.

The duo came to the conclusion that while the concept of combining computers, sensors, and networks to monitor and control devices has been around for decades, the recent confluence of key technologies and market trends is emerging in a new reality for the “Internet of Things’’. The main vision of IoT is to usher in a revolutionary, fully interconnected “smart” world, with relationships between objects and their environment and objects and people becoming more tightly intertwined. However, if the system is more complex, a number of potential challenges may stand in the way of this vision – particularly in the areas of security, privacy, interoperability and standards, legal, regulatory, and rights issues, as well as the inclusion of emerging economies. Clearly, the Internet of Things involves a complex and evolving set of technological, social, and policy considerations across a diverse set of stakeholders.

While the end user benefits from effective communication models, it should be mentioned that effective IoT communication models also enhance technical innovation and open opportunity for commercial growth. New products and services can be designed to take advantage of IoT data streams that didn’t exist previously, acting as a catalyst for further innovation.

The fact is that IoT devices will be found everywhere and will enable ambient intelligence in the future. Therefore, the overview of the various communication models used in IOT, given below, are of great value. The IoTs allow people and things to be connected anytime, anyplace, with anything and anyone, ideally using any path/network and any service. From an operational perspective, it is useful to think about how IoT devices connect and communicate in terms of their technical communication models, before making decisions:

  • The device-to-device communication model represents two or more devices that directly connect and communicate between one another, rather than through an intermediary application server. These devices communicate over many types of networks, including IP networks or the Internet. Often, however these devices use protocols like Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or ZigBee to establish direct device-to-device communications.
  • In a device-to-cloud communication model, the IoT device connects directly to an Internet cloud service like an application service provider to exchange data and control message traffic. This approach frequently takes advantage of existing communications mechanisms like traditional wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi connections to establish a connection between the device and the IP network, which ultimately connects to the cloud service.
    Frequently, the device and cloud service are from the same vendor. If proprietary data protocols are used between the device and the cloud service, the device owner or user may be tied to a specific cloud service, limiting or preventing the use of alternative service providers. This is commonly referred to as “vendor lock-in’’, a term that encompasses other facets of the relationship with the provider such as ownership of and access to the data. At the same time, users can generally have confidence that devices designed for the specific platform can be integrated.
  • In the device-to-gateway model, or more typically, the device-to-application-layer gateway (ALG) model, the IoT device connects through an ALG service as a conduit to reach a cloud service. In simpler terms, this means that there is application software operating on a local gateway device, which acts as an intermediary between the device and the cloud service and provides security and other functionality such as data or protocol translation.
    Several forms of this model are found in consumer devices. In many cases, the local gateway device is a smartphone running an app to communicate with a device and relay data to a cloud service. The other form of this device-to-gateway model is the emergence of “hub” devices in home automation applications. These are devices that serve as a local gateway between individual IoT devices and a cloud service, but they can also bridge the interoperability gap between devices themselves.
  • The back-end data-sharing model refers to a communication architecture that enables users to export and analyze smart object data from a cloud service in combination with data from other sources. This architecture supports “the [user’s] desire for granting access to the uploaded sensor data to third parties”. This approach is an extension of the single device-to-cloud communication model, which can lead to data silos where “IoT devices upload data only to a single application service provider’’. A back-end sharing architecture allows the data collected from single IoT device data streams to be aggregated and analyzed and suggests a federated cloud services approach, or cloud applications programmer interfaces (APIs), to achieve interoperability of smart device data hosted in the cloud.

By enabling the user to achieve better access to an IoT device and its data, the overall value of the device is clearly amplified, however, these networked benefits come with trade-offs. Careful consideration needs to be paid to the incurred cost burdens placed on users to connect to cloud resources when considering an architecture, especially in regions where user connectivity costs are high.

Source: Santosh Kulkarni & Prof. Sanjeev Kulkarni: Communication Models in Internet of Things: A Survey, IJSTE - International Journal of Science Technology & Engineering | Volume 3 | Issue 11 | May 2017