Talking about what a smart device could be…

One of the things I have been doing a lot lately is talking about the concept of an IoT, or Internet of Things, broker. A broker represents an aggregator of services. The services are both the data and service produced by the IoT infrastructure but also the required security, management and so on required to keep the IoT devices operating. I read a great quote from a scientist that works for the US Geological Survey organization; she said: “when should a volcano sensor be offline?” The easy answer to that question is after lava buries it. That, however, isn’t the right answer. Never would be the right answer if you live near the Volcano. It is a quote taken completely out of context (we have systems that can never be down, being the first part paraphrased of the quote).

Internet of things devices continues to move further and further into our lives. The first issue is the overuse of smart devices. Just because a device can adapt to one thing, does not make it smart. We should probably evaluate the use of the word smart when it comes to IoT devices. Smart devices can understand the reality of the environment in a much broader way than simply turning on or off. Smart devices are what is needed in the IoT space.

Why Smart Devices?

  • Smart devices allow for the creation of MESH networks of IoT devices. A mesh network allows a one to many attacks to response (one attacker, attacking one IoT devices, but the entire IoT Mesh responds increasing the impact of the response). Mesh networks also allow for the concept of shared services within the mesh. An example would be deploying multiple communication systems within the mesh, shared by all devices. (one wi-fi or two wi-fi connections. One Cellular and so on).
  • Smart Devices also only report when there are variances. A smart volcano sensor would only report when the ground temperature changed (rising) rapidly in the course of a one hour period. If the ground temperature doesn’t rise, only do an I am alive pulse once every 4 hours or so.

All of this is measured against need and requirements. Having a smart device, and an IoT broker is a cost based decision. If you are a home user with 20 IoT devices, you don’t need a broker. You may, in the course of building a home automation system build an IoT broker (one solution that manages and delivers the data from all the others). Medium sized organizations may also only have 100, 200 IoT devices and may never need an IoT broker.

The more devices you have, the more likely you will want the capabilities I have outlined in the broker model.

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The days of Smart Devices are here…