10 components every IoT project should have
An IoT project barely matches another, there are always differences - additional extra, new requirements, special requests that must be considered. Never then lesse all IoT projects are based on the same building blocks. Each block has its own specific attributes that can be modified and changed. The Magic, however, is by bundling the blocks together into one stack and achieving the *perfect* outcome.
You can imagine this process like a delicious Burger. Each component is kinda “OK” by itself but the magic comes once you combine all of them together.
02. Components (Bottom-Up)
Let's start building our IoT Burger from the bottom-up and work towards the top.
02.1. Bun = The Thing
The “Thing” is the physical object you want to connect to the internet. This could be literally “every” physical object you can think of.
Example: Chair, Car, Door, Weather station, Water meter, Keys, Smoke detector, ...
02.2. Meat = Sensor
Whatever the “Thing” you choose to connect, it requires one or multiple sensors to measure attributes. The attributes could be the parameters of the thing itself or of the surroundings where the “Thing” is placed.
You could, for example, measure the Temperature of the Object itself as well as the outside Temperature where the object is placed.
Other sensors examples: Temperature, Humidity, Counter, Weight, Movement, Vibration, Location (GPS), ...
02.3. Cheese = Data
Data is the reason why we are here!!
The generated data is highly dependent on the sensor(s) you use. The Data (same like cheese) can be "complete", a full set records e.g. every single second of the day or it could have “holes/gaps” and generate a record if somthing changes.
Both approaches have their benefits - for Example, an hourly keep-alive record (device is still OK - no changes) is fully sufficient when you monitor the reachability of an device (example: smoke detector). However the interval should change once the device is active (smoke detected) to inform the owner about possilbe changes.
Possible Data records could be:
- Temperatur >> Celsius
- Humidity >> Percentage
- Counter >> amount
- Weight >> Pressure
- GPS >> LAT, LON, ALT
- Time >> local or satelite
Thing + Sensor + Data = Asset
02.4. Lettuce = Protocol
The protocol has a big impact on your overall data consumption and therefore on the cennectivity bill you will pay to get your asset connected over the internet. It is therefore highly recommended to use a protocol that is “lightweight”.
A second aspect that should be considered is automatisation. We are not doing all these efforts to connect only one asset but a whole fleet - thousand or even millions of things.
The protocol you chose should allow a high level of automation as well as functionalities like monitoring and updates while being easy to extend with new parameters.
A recommended protocol for IoT is LwM2M as well as other less capable protocols like MQTT.
02.5. Tomato = Internet/Technology
All your assets need to be connected over the internet. You can use herefore an existing technology like 3G/4g or go to the next step and choose an LPWAN technology with its own specifications and attributes e.g.: NB-IoT, LoRA, Sigfox
02.6. Special Sauce = Cloud Server
The Server (also known as the mysterious “Cloud”) is the central point where all your assets connect to. The functionalities executed on this server must be compatible with the generated data, the way how it is transmitted over the various protocols and the technology/internet.
You can use your own server at your premises or one of the generic offers from Google, Amazon or Microsoft where you can develop from ground-up the whole IoT logic. Another possibility is to choose a IoT specific solution like the one from AVSystem which does most of the work for you.
02.7. Onion = Automation
Automation is where you stop working hard and you start working smart.
Your fleet of hundreds of thousands of connected assets must be looked after and ...
- Kept operational with the latest security updates
- Exchange data between individual as well as groups of connected assets
- Trigger events and reacts to internal as well as external attributes
Instead, you managing each and every single asset, the roll is swapped and automated monitoring informs you, what you should do and which of your assets require a bit more care.
This Automation and Monitoring is highly dependent on the capability of your assets, the protocol(s) you choose to exchange data as well as the Server software used for this task.
It is therefore recommended to use industry standards and choose IoT protocols (e.g.: Lwm2M) and assets that are capable to handle this level of automation.
02.8. Pickle = External interface
Using external interface enables you to enrich the measured data with additional parameters from external sources.
You could, for example, use the data from a CRM-Database to identify a customer and automated inspection & scheduling - a task that will be based on the battery level your asset.
This is one of the ways to enrich your data and add additional value to your IoT solution.
02.9. Ketchup = Analytics
Another way to add more value to your assets is by analyzing it in a “big style“.
Once your fleet of assets grow in numbers your point of interest will grow as well. Form one specific device to the state of your whole fleet of connected assets. It’s still interesting what happens with one specific asset but at the end of the day you want to know what is the behaviour of my whole “park house”, for example and not only one parking spot.
Analytics enable you to meassure and compare things like:
- Occupancy statistics - time of the day, holiday, weekends, ...
- Usage compared to different weather - e.g.: Rain & Snow = More people park inside
- Duration of stay compared due to special promotions
Analytics like these enable you to make smart business decisions and lower or rais your parking fees or maybe plan to extend the parking capabilities or rent out part of your parking spots for private long term parking over the holidays.
02.10. Bun Top = Application
At the end of the day, you are Master over your whole fleet of connected assets and can execute software and firmware updates over-the-air (SOTA/FOTA). You have insight into historical measurements, can monitor specific conditions, locate your assets and group them for a better overview.
Your IoT application can be specific for your vertical e.g.: Smart-Water-Meters or generic and enable you to provide multiple levels of support to your customers.
You are not longer building the system but have a whole team behind you to manage your assets and look after them.
02.11. Bun Top* Sesame Seeds = Special Application
Did you know that unknowledge is equal to high level of Stress?
On the other side knowing that everything is OK can be a huge relief.
This is true for you as well as your customers.
Your customers are also interested in the assets that are located on their premises. For example, a smoke detector in the kitchen.
- That it’s fully operational
- That it runs a self-diagnostic once a week
- That they will be notified over their private e-mail and phone number should the sensor be triggered.
By sharing with your customers a limited access to your IoT Application, a customer can gain insight about the asset she owns.
An insight that makes her life complete and at the same time reduces support tickets for your customer-care-center, since all the information is just a click away.
By now you might have realised that not all components are mandatory to connect an asset to a server and transmit data.
It is up to you what you would like to achieve with your IoT project. You can plan your IoT solution the same way how you choose lunch. You can buy it from a fast-food chain that belongs to a “Melancholic Clown” (one flavour only) which keeps you satisfied for 10 minutes or you choose a proper jucy Burger that requires a bit higher investment but fulfils all your needs and is future proof.