One of the human advantages is the ability to have their own language to communicate with each other, telling how they feel, and exchanging information. We have overcome language differences by agreeing that an understanding of an object remains the same, even if it has a different meaning in another language. And as time passed, new objects were created–more modern and practical–and new problems were created, there is no communication between us and the machine. So, we grow a desire to understand and want to communicate with the machine.
As we all know, machines lack the ability to speak to us in our own language. Nevertheless, we have devised ways to communicate with them by creating programming languages and devices that allow us to interface with their workings. For instance, we use particular tools to monitor the progress of production and inquire about the status of the machinery. Through such means, we can stay attuned to the performance of our creations and fine-tune their operations to better suit our needs.
As time passes, the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming increasingly integrated into our daily lives. From smart lights to complex systems like public transportation monitoring, IoT applications are all around us. While some IoT systems may consist of just a few connected devices, others involve many devices communicating with one another. This may leave some people wondering about the communication protocols used by IoT devices.
How do they communicate?
IoT has its own communication protocol that allows for secure data exchange between devices, data centers, and other processing and storage units.
Each protocol has its distinct characteristic, which may work on one project and turn insignificant on another project. Which indicates there are certain advantages and disadvantages to each communication protocol. Protocols differ significantly in terms of range, memory usage, power consumption, installation costs, and so on.
We will dive into two categories of IoT protocols: IoT Network Protocols and IoT Data Protocols.
IoT Network Protocols
When Wi-Fi routers were first introduced, those of us who were old enough might experience wireless internet connectivity for the first time were likely struck by the convenience and flexibility it provided. In much the same way, Wi-Fi has revolutionized how the average person interacts with and accesses the Internet, and this impact extends to IoT implementations as well.
Today, Wi-Fi is an essential component of most households and businesses, allowing people to connect multiple devices simultaneously. Moreover, the advancement of Wi-Fi technology has significantly improved its speed and range, making it possible to stream high-quality video and audio content seamlessly.
On its use, Wi-Fi is regulated under the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, which are commonly used for local area networking of devices and Internet access, allowing nearby digital devices to exchange data by radio waves. While IoT usage is regulated under 802.11ah, which specialized in low power consumption and the ability for connected devices to share signals.
- Convenient and easy to install
- High data transfer rate
- High power consumption
- Hard to scale
- Short distance communications
2. Cellular (LTE-M and NB-IoT)
There is a difference between the traditional cellular options—like 4G, and LTE— and IoT cellular gateways. The difference lies in the power consumption, where IoT cellular gateways consume less power and are able to stay connected for longer periods, making them ideal for remote and low-power IoT applications.
There are two most popular cellular IoT cellular gateways: LTE-M (Long Term Evolution for Machines) and NB-IoT (Narrow Band-Internet of Things). LTE-M or commonly known as LTE CAT M1 (Long Term Evolution (4G), category M1) is one of the more advanced connectivity options on LTE and specialized in transferring low to medium amounts of data. While NB-IoT is specially designed for IoT implementations that provides long range access and improved indoor penetration.
- Low power < 8mA
- Go directly from the carrier to cloud provider
- Utilize location detection
- Low bandwidth
Those old enough may remember exchanging data with personal gadgets. Bluetooth is a technology that enables device-to-device communication without an internet gateway and is used for exchanging small amounts of data over short distances.
In 2010, a new version called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) was introduced. It is optimized for short-range IoT communication and consumes less power than the standard Bluetooth version. It’s important to note that BLE cannot communicate with standard Bluetooth unless both protocols are installed on both devices.
In IoT, this technology is commonly used in battery-powered sensors to connect with gateways or facilitate communication with smartphones and other smart devices.
- Low power consumption
- Support for direct device-to-device communication without the need for an internet gateway
- Limited range (up to 10m for Bluetooth and up to 100m for BLE)
- Crowded frequency (2.4 GHz)
- Limited number of connected devices (up to 7 for Bluetooth and up to 20 for BLE)
4. LoRaWAN (Long-range Radio Wide Area Network)
This technology covered a large area with a long range of radio waves. LoRa is perfect for smart cities and smart manufacturing because it can connect numerous devices over a large area and transmit data over great distances.
In optimal conditions, LoRaWAN gateways can be placed 5 to 15 kilometers away from LoRa devices. However, physical obstructions like trees or structures can prevent data from being transmitted. LoRa requires an appropriate network of physical gateways to operate effectively.
A LoRa gateway collects data from various sensors and sends it over the IP protocol to a server or the cloud. Applications that need low latency or that transfer many data cannot use this IoT communication protocol.
- Cover wide area
- Low power consumption
- Low transfer rate
- Not for real-time applications
- Deployment complexity
IoT Data Protocol
Well, we know HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is the foundation of data communication in the World Wide Web, which HTTP clients can make requests: GET, PUT, DELETE and POST. However, in an IoT environment, a common use of HTTP is to allow devices to POST to a resource that represents the device state on the IoT service.
HTTP has many drawbacks for the IoT applications. For example, HTTP is designed for communication between two systems at a time. HTTP is also designed for request-response based communication, and it is not suitable IoT, since most IoT applications are event based. A high-power consumption also be another reason why HTTP is not suitable for IoT, since HTTP utilize heavy system resource.
Message Queue Telemetry Transport, better known as MQTT, is a messaging protocol that is optimized for IoT communication. It is lightweight and ideal for connecting small, low-power devices. Due to its small memory and processing requirements, MQTT is a popular choice for IoT applications. The publish-subscribe architecture of MQTT allows devices to subscribe to particular topics and only receive messages that are relevant to them. Because of this, it serves as a scalable and effective solution for IoT networks with a lot of devices.
Each protocol has its distinct characteristic, which may work on one project and turn insignificant on another project. The success of an IoT system also depends on the communication protocol chosen, so when selecting a protocol, it is crucial to carefully consider the needs and characteristics of each project. IoT systems can exchange data between devices, data centers, and other processing and storage devices in this way, which ultimately enhances system performance and reliability.
IoT Stadium offers three connectivity options: HTTP, MQTT, and LoRaWAN. HTTP integrates with web apps, MQTT offers real-time data with minimal bandwidth, and LoRaWAN is ideal for remote monitoring. With these options, IoT Stadium is flexible and scalable for various use cases in this rapidly evolving landscape. Currently, there are three types of connectivity available, and more may be developed in the future.
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