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Aggregating data protocols from Internet of Things

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Internet of Things? M2M? TCP/IP? Bluetooth LE? LTE?

The consumer industry focuses on human experience and human interactions with machines. However, the industrial Internet of Things will have different goals. Rather than creating new human experiences, it will focus on making machines more autonomous, increasing efficiency and productivity by reducing or even eliminating the need for human supervision.

You could call the Internet of Things a new device category layer that will link the formerly non-connected world with the connected world of PCs, tablets and smartphones. For consumers, that will often mean replacing older equipment with newer, smarter devices. But replacing existing equipment won't be as easy in the industrial world. Much of the infrastructure that is currently in place is far too valuable and far too complex to be discarded.

Rather than eliminating our existing M2M data networks and connected devices, the industrial Internet of Things will coexist with them for a long time. It will incorporate the older technologies, provide them with dramatic new capabilities, and increase their value.

To do this, industrial Internet of Things technology will need to accommodate disparate technologies, some of which are decades old. It will have to aggregate, convert and transmit multiple data networking protocols, from Modbus to TCP/IP.

It will need to move data across fibre, copper, cellular and wireless connections. While adding smaller, smarter, more capable nodes to networks, the Industrial Internet of Things will also have to keep older equipment connected.

Figure 1: The router had built-in firewalls and powerful security protocols, and when combined with VPN it was able to use the cellular system as securely as if it were proprietary infrastructure.

IoT will include the Internet of the past
This isn't a complete break with the past. No single technology has ever been the best for every application, so industrial networks have always needed to connect multiple protocols and devices. Manufacturers have responded by developing a wide variety of protocol converters, making it easy to connect anything from Modbus to fibre.

But as the Internet of Things unfolds, protocol conversion will become more complex. More and more devices will be wireless. As was the case with wired connections, no single wireless technology is yet the best for every application. Cellular data networking, for example, can provide virtually infinite range, and the build-out of the 4G LTE networks will give it low latency and bandwidth that rivals fibre.

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