THOUGHT LEADERSHIP WHITE PAPER SERIES - IoT CoE Okol Group
How IoT is important to you
released 06/25/2017 by Okol Group
Did you notice that your new TV has an Ethernet plug on the back? That your Nest smoke detector, Honeywell thermostat, Wink sensor, weigth scale, and IP camera all come with Wi-Fi? And that you can monitor and control them via your smartphone or the vendor's portal? That's exactly what the Internet f Things (IoT) is: the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data with servers. The IoT is consequently an instance of other concepts known as smart grids, smart homes, intelligent transportation and smart cities. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.
The power of IoT is limited by your imagination. Say for example you are on your way to a meeting, your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take, if the traffic is heavy your car might send you a text notifying you to leave earlier. What if your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 am and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you? What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more? What if the wearable device you used in the workplace could tell you when and where you were most active and productive and shared that information with other devices that you used while working?
Simplistic depiction of the various segments where IoT plays a role
© Okol Group Holdings, LLC
Now apply that same concept to a commercial building. With an army of online sensors, building systems can analyze air quality and send commands to the HVAC system; notice unoccupied areas and reduce lighting; sense sunlight and lower sheerlite shades and dim lights near windows. The possibilities are endless. Now apply this concept to a city operation: you can reduce pollution, save energy, and operational costs simply by collecting and processing data that would otherwise not be available.
The Smart Home and IoT: Connectivity, Not Speed
Without a common communication protocol, control & automation of various devices from different vendors is simply not possible. This is why IoT uses the internet as basis for it to exist. Whether vendors use different protocols to communicate within their devices (see Lutron's Clear Connect white paper here), at the end all the data is translated to common language that can be interpreted by servers and command consoles. The best example is Lutron's Total Home Control systems Caséta and RadioRA2, which integrate with different vendors such as Honeywell, Crestron, Control4, Apple Homekit, and even Siri.
The one thing that IoT has in common with all devices is that it needs connectivity, not necessarily speed. Take it for granted: if your home is not well connected inside, it will not be a smart home. It will be useless to hire the latest FiOS package at 300 Mbps if the inner network can barely support such speeds. And the IoT doesn't even require much speed, the amount of data exchanged is irrelevant as compared to streaming a movie.
Connectivity is the ensemble of wires and wireless communication platforms that connects all devices within an area to either a private network or to the internet. The local network is known as the LAN, whereas the internet is often referred to as the WAN. Devices within a home use the LAN to communicate within themselves, but then use the WAN to send the information to the Cloud or even to your smartphone when you are away. You now realize the importance of having a solid network in your premises in order to take advantage of the myriad of benefits offered by the IoT.
Large domestic appliances such as TVs, refrigerators, dishwashers, solar systems, and even swimming pool pumps all will soon work more efficiently if connected to the internet. Running structured cabling to places where the appliances are located is best-practice and a guarantee of future-proof infrastructure for what IoT has still to bring (more information about Structured Cabling here).
By 2020, it is predicted than more than 25 devices in an average modern home will need constant Ethernet connectivity.
© Okol Group Holdings, LLC
Contributed to this article Jacob Morgan, Forbes. Other sources: Wikipedia.org