Cloud Services are the Future of the IoT

By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer

The Internet of Things (IoT) is composed of an assortment of connected devices, but without cloud computing services, these devices wouldn’t have much more functionality than the standard household device. This is due to the fact that the cloud allows devices to outsource the analysis and storage of any data that is collected through their connected sensors. The cloud’s internet-based computing methods act as the brain for IoT devices, removing the boundaries of inter-device, memory and space constrictions.

The IoT is growing at an exponential rate, making cloud services more important than they have ever been before. In order for the cloud infrastructure to accommodate for the mass amount of data being stored and transferred within the cloud, it will need to be developed at a rate similar to IoT technology. The cloud was designed on the very basis of being able to store information remotely, making it the optimum environment for the interconnectivity of internet-enabled devices. If the IoT industry plans to succeed, it is critical that the significance of cloud services is unanimously recognized.

There are many benefits offered by the cloud that would enhance the world of smart technology. The ingenious decision to move the serious data processing functionality of these devices to the cloud has opened the door for further technological advancements. Using the cloud for big data storage and analytics has done two main things that have helped enable the accelerated development of IoT technology. The first thing it does is enable devices to be smaller and use less power, making them much easier to integrate within any home environment. The second is that it makes it possible to continuously update the firmware as needed, which removes the burden from consumers and allows devices to be used for longer periods of time.

The overall accessibility and user-friendliness of IoT devices can be accredited to the power of the cloud. Having devices that every consumer can deploy within their smart homes is definitely a positive for the IoT. That being said, the cloud is able to do so much more for smart technology than simply make it easier for consumers to use devices. Creating a network of devices is entirely dependent upon having a reliable method of communication. The implementation of cloud infrastructure in IoT devices enables the ability to utilize multiple devices in a single network, while communicating simultaneously. Once multiple devices are communicating within the same cloud, the information and data that is collected for individual devices can be accessed by all devices, thus establishing a more synchronized system.

This always available, web-based service is a perfect vehicle for helping the IoT thrive. Current cloud infrastructure isn’t quite large enough to support the expected rise in IoT devices over the next couple of years. That being said, more advanced cloud infrastructures are being developed to help compensate for the influx of connected technology. As the network of devices continue to grow, it will be crucial that the capabilities of the cloud are maintained as it is truly the only technology available that is equipped for storing and analyzing this much data.

Expediting IoT Growth with Blockchain

By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer/Marketing

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been developed with a centralized communication model as an integral part of its infrastructure. The cloud acts as the centerpiece for IoT communication, allowing devices to communicate, store and process data, and connect through the internet. However, cloud technology will be unable to sustain the sheer amount of data that is being processed with the growing IoT. Blockchain technology can be used to create a more decentralized communication model, helping alleviate the discrepancies of privacy, communication, and scalability for the IoT.

Cloud technology is great for introducing the power and potential deployments of IoT. In a TechCrunch article, the issues of future cloud applications are captured perfectly when author Ben Dickson states, “cloud servers will remain a bottleneck and point of failure that can disrupt the entire network.” The issue is that IoT ecosystems are expanding at an unprecedented rate; the resources that need to be allocated for maintaining the cloud will not be enough to nurture the growth of this technology. The cloud may be the IoT solution at this point in its development, but the costs and demands of processing that much data will become a nuisance. There needs to be an improved system for handling the heavy traffic of smart technology.

Blockchain technology is the answer the IoT industry has been searching for. Blockchain is a Machine to Machine (M2M) communication platform that enables devices to act as nodes and communicate with each other, removing the stress of storing everything in a central server. This innovative technology can help track and monitor the vast quantities of connected deices, allowing for devices to be able to coordinate their transactions directly with other devices. This can help cut down on the expenses of maintaining the enormous cloud networks and data centers.

One way to further understand the blockchain approach is to examine common network topologies. Utilizing the cloud as the centerpiece for IoT infrastructure is essentially creating a star network configuration. This means that each devices is acting as a node that is connected to a central device. The nodes cannot communicate directly; they can only communicate through the central device. The issue with this is that if there is a single point of failure, particularly the central device, the entire network goes down. Blockchain technology enables the network to resemble more of a mesh network configuration. This essentially means that every node is connected to each other and can communicate without going through a central device. This does create some redundancy within a network, but it this could be a more reliable solution for the IoT.

Decentralizing the communication model of the IoT can be an important step in establishing a reliable network for devices to operate within. The security of the IoT would also be improved due to the fact that there is no central point the information has to go through, removing the possibility of data being intercepted at the central device. Even though this technology is very promising, it does not come without problems. Setting up these networks is much more complex than setting up one that runs through the cloud. Once these networks are setup, there comes the issue of creating them on a scale where billions of devices can communicate directly with each other. The future of this technology is unclear due to these roadblocks, but the potential ability to have a seamless network with M2M communication is ideal for the development of the IoT.

5 Points to Remember for Engaging Citizens with the Internet of Things

When examining the process of the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) within city environments, people often focus on the technical aspects. There are five main themes in order to successfully adopt IoT technology on a large scale. The five themes for an operational IoT include:

  1. Leverage existing physical infrastructure
  2. Engage the local data ecosystem (i.e., partner with local researchers or non-profits)
  3. Employ a clear data management strategy
  4. Address security and privacy concerns with transparency
  5. Turn collected data into action

Despite the importance of the technical aspects of the IoT, it is also important to examine the non-technical aspects because it deals with the consumers that will actually be using the technology. One of the best ways to further advance technical products is by engaging with residents. This allows implementers to gather support for a projects as well as gain insight about how to make a project much more effective. Utilizing residents as a resource for developing the adoption of IoT technology should not be overlooked, regardless of how complex a project may seem. Residents can often provide new information or insight on things that haven’t been considered yet.

There are many ways to go about creating engagement efforts. One example is the Civic User Testing Group (CUTGroup), which is a group consisting of Chicago residents who are paid to test various civic websites and applications. These groups can be used as ways to engage with residents, which can lead to further development of any IoT projects. Civic engagement through groups such as the CUTGroup have allowed for technological improvements and should be seen as a tool rather than a hindrance.

In order for cities to capitalize on the future of the IoT, they will need to value the interaction between implementers and residents. Collecting feedback and information about how residents interact with technology is much more valuable than simply informing residents of how a technology works. This means that residents should not only be informed, but be able to interact with implementers and raise any questions or concerns they have. With technological growth in mind, the non-technical aspects of the IoT are just as important as the technical aspect.

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Sensor modules prove IoT darlings, rounding up billions

The Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining a lot of traction as the importance of high-tech sensor modules are being focused on as an integral part of smart technology. The funding in these sensors have increased in a manner that is nearly three times larger than in the past decade. This means that more developers and consumers are realizing the limitless potential of sensors and what they mean for the IoT. A lot of devices currently have sensors, but if a device is able to actually act on the data collected through sensors, technology will be substantially more powerful and efficient.

North America is leading the push for sensor innovation, but the investment in other areas around the globe are still increasing in number. Companies like Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and IBM are investing billions of dollars in an effort to further develop sensor technology. It is clear that the future of the IoT is in the hands of sensor modules.

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