The Internet of Things (IoT), also referred to as Internet of Everything, is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with production, operator and/ or other connected devices.
The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to inter-operate within the existing internet infrastructure.
“Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020”
Things, in the IoT refer to:
- Heart monitoring implants
- Electric clams in coastal waters
- Automobiles with built-in sensors
- Field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue etc.
The ability of things to sense their environment and report on it is immensely useful. Things can increasingly report on their own status, as well as tell us what they are doing and plan to do, which adds another layer of richness to the mix. Things can perform actions for us on request. And in an evolving IoT marketplace, more value can be derived from services related to those connected things than the things themselves.
Another integral part of IoT is how M2M (Machine to Machine) allows both wireless and and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same type. This integration between the two brings several benefits to the industry and business in general as it has a wide range of applications mostly for monitoring but also for control purposes such as:
- Industrial Automation
- Smart Grid
- Smart Cities
- Defence etc.
So what is the difference between M2M and IoT?
With M2M, applications are specialized based on function and quite inflexible. IoT applications need to be more flexible in terms of potential so that they can evolve over time.
M2M applications are about connecting devices and their associated applications eg a smart meter and a smart metering applications, while in IoT, applications are potentially far more complex eg data analysis or event processing.
Many M2M applications are deployed with a relatively rigid and unchanging solution architecture, while IoT applications are characterized by their need for distributed and federated processing, storage, and querying.
Speed can be designed into an M2M solution as needed, and applications are capable of supporting the necessary speed requirements. In an IoT environment, however, the need for speed in the delivery and processing of different data feeds may change over time.
M2M applications are considered in the context of industry verticals and functional niches, whereas IoT applications have the potential to be implemented cross-industry and cross-function applications.
In M2M, data is highly structured and well documented. The data in the IoT environment can vary and to an extent be completely unstructured, depending on the kind of information the developer is trying to extract.
In the case of an M2M application, growth is far more predictable. Typically, an M2M solution is designed for a specific market, or set of assets, and can be deployed in that addressable market in a relatively predictable way. However, growth in the IoT space can be expected to be more exponential, rather than the more linear and predictable growth that characterizes the M2M space.
In the case of M2M, the privacy of data can be considered within a known landscape of application, user, and regulatory requirements. In the case of IoT applications, however, data could potentially be used for contemporaneously unforeseen applications in unforeseen locations and for unforeseen beneficiaries. This is one of the major aspects of the IoT that large companies will have to deal with effectively to protect trust among clients.
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