Knowledge Center
Knowledge Center

IoT & IIoT

Separate electronic devices using Internet or other connections to communicate among the devices. Usually sensors or actuators are sending data to a computing hub.


The Internet of Things refers to networks of connected devices (or ‘things’) the communicate via the Internet or a direct connection, usually networked for specific purposes, using a variety of devices and connection schemes.

The common use case is sensors collecting data in the field or from a machine in a factory. The sensors or actuators send the data to computing center (which could be an edge node, a private or public cloud server, a computer, or a mobile phone) for computation and interpretation. The customer may access the data via an app on a phone or an Internet portal via any Internet connect device. Every industry is being touched by IoT schemes that can make it easier to monitor and activate a command on a target remotely.

The term Internet of Things is said to have been around since the 1999 and is credited to Kevin Ashton, who cofounded the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was a pioneer in RFID technology. Intel made a marketing push in 2008 around their prediction that 15 billion devices would be connected by 2015. IDC estimates there will be 55.7 billion connected IoT devices by 2025, generating almost 80B zettabytes (ZB) of data.* In 2023, IoT is fragmented into use cases, which determine what technology is best adopted to accomplish the system’s functional goals. From large connected medical devices to consumer wearables, from industrial factory automation to residential home automation, to monitoring a building’s energy use without a visit from a human meter reader, the IoT is definitely useful and, despite some gotchas, is mostly making the task of gathering data easier.

IIoT: Industrial Internet Of Things

Many industrial systems contain networks of sensors, actuators and processors. A robot is an integration of all of these devices and the robot probably has some kind of connection to the rest of world so that it can be re-programmed. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) makes it possible for devices to be converged in ways that could not be in the past.

Consider an office building. The elevators, HVAC, lighting, security and many more systems exist but do not talk to each other. Efficiencies can be made in the office if they were coordinated. As an example, when an employee swipes their badge at the front door, the elevator knows that they will be required to take them from the ground floor to their office and can schedule its arrival for maximum efficiency along with all other pending requests. Heating, lighting and other functions can be informed so that all necessary lights are on and the office set to the desired temperature. The elevator is also monitoring itself and instead of having to undergo regular maintenance, will inform the necessary people when parts are getting worn, or if some other maintenance function is required.

The IIoT is characterized by long lived assets that have high value. They are meant to have very limited interaction with human beings once installed and they have some critical requirements related to ero failures, resilience and hardened security. The IIoT is often a very hostile environment, especially with regards to the communications, so issues such as SNR, and dynamic range have to be addressed.

Some edge devices may exist within hostile environment, meaning that temperature ranges may be extended or they may have to operate in toxic environments.

The IIoT is generally referred to as a brown field environment, as opposed to green field. Brown field means that the application area is not new and that many of the IIOT devices will replace existing devices. Infrastructure, such as wiring may already be in place and this may be necessary due to reliability requirements that could not be met by wireless communications.

Connectivity standards may already be in place.

IoT: Internet Of Things

The Internet of Things is an emerging application area that relies on a number of technologies developed for the Internet, consumer portable products, large scale computing and many technologies developed within the semiconductor industry. There are three types of devices associated with the IoT, namely edge devices, hubs and access points and the cloud.

Edge Devices
By far, the vast majority of devices within the IoT context are the edge devices. These typically contain one or more sensors or actuators, a processor and a means of communications. Communications may be either wireline or more commonly some form of wireless communications. What differentiates these devices from remote devices of the past is that they have IP addresses and are publically accessible, unless access to them is restricted via security mechanisms, access control or authentication.

The second device type are the hubs or access points. Edge devices equipped with wireless communications are likely to have a limited range and thus they will be connected to something that acts as a consolidator, or access point for a wide area network. Today, consumer devices such as a phone act as a hub, connecting to things such as a watch or earpiece using Bluetooth technology. While these devices are private devices today, there are other applications, such as the home, smart power, cars and others that could well use more open sensors.

The home gateway is one that is being fought over today with companies such as Internet providers, TV companies, security companies and early automated home makers such as Nest attempting to create a foothold.

Large Scale Processing
The third level of the IoT is the large-scale processors that can make use of some of the data being generated from the edge devices. As an example, the smart grid relies on information coming from each of the smart meters attached to the home, adapting the delivery network to optimize transmission and in some cases limiting power consumption at times when peak demand exceeds supply.

These large scale processing centers are also referred to as the Cloud and the analysis of large amounts of data as Big Data.

Reliance on the Internet
All aspects of the IoT rely on the infrastructure created for the Internet even though it will have to be enhanced significantly over time to deal with the increasing amounts of traffic that will be created. One extension necessary is the migration from IP4 to IP6 addresses. IP4 only enables 4.3 billion unique devices to exist worldwide, a number that has already been exceeded. By 2020, it is estimated that we will be approaching 10 times that number.

Many application areas will have specialized requirements. For example, the Industrial Internet of Things requires devices to have a long lifetime and many of the devices may have to operate in hostile environments. Medical devices that are implanted will have to have extremely long battery life and both of these may have elevated security requirements compared to the consumer space.


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