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Understanding “Things” in Internet of Things

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  • Difficulty Level : Expert
  • Last Updated : 06 Oct, 2020
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Nowadays, Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the most powerful technologies of modern era having the internet as its backbone. Internet of Things or IoT is something that is used to communicate with physical objects. In easy words, we can say that “Internet of Things is a technology which is used to communicate between human and machine or a machine to machine with the help of internet”.

Here the word ‘Things’ refers to these machines or physical objects so it becomes important to understand what kind of objects can be connected via Internet. We can categories these objects into categories –

  1. Objects with intelligence or Smart Objects.
  2. Objects without intelligence or Non-Smart Objects.

Classification of Objects

Smart Objects :
As the name suggests smart objects are objects having some intelligence. Now the world has changed enough to alter our everyday objects into smart objects which can communicate, react, and identify other objects according to the environment. The key concept of IoT is to reduce human interaction in any framework and smart objects fulfill this requirement to a great extent. That is why Smart Objects are called building blocks of Internet of Things. Smart objects and IoT are like two wheels of a vehicle which move together to speed up the vehicle of our modern infrastructure.

Definition of Smart Object :
“Smart objects are those physical and digital objects which can be identified, have sensing/actuating capabilities, processing and calculating powers, also storing, and networking capabilities.”

Features of Smart Object :
Smart objects have some specific features which are necessary for calling a physical object as smart object. We will discuss these features below –

  1. Physical Shape :
    As the word object refers to something which has some physical shape or size, so any Smart Object should have these physical features so that it can be deployed somewhere in the infrastructure.

  2. Unique Identifier :
    Smart Objects should have a unique identity so they can be easily identified in the infrastructure. It is something that differs a specific object from other objects. This type of physical identity is used by humans for reasoning purposes.

  3. Communication Capabilities :
    It must have communication capabilities so that it can send or receive data over internet or other networking technologies.

  4. Unique Name and Address :
    Here the words, name, and address refer to networking address of the object such as IP address which is used for communication purposes. The address should be unique in the whole internet infrastructure. While the name is used by humans for reasoning purposes.

  5. Processing Powers :
    Smart Objects have some basic computational and processing abilities to take decisions accordingly the environment.

  6. Sensing Capabilities :
    It should have some sensing capabilities to know about the surroundings (Pressure, toxic gasses, temp. etc).

Features of Smart Objects

Examples :
We are surrounded by smart objects in our daily life. For example, we all have our smartphones in our pockets. Smart fridge, Smart TV, Alexa voice assistant are some modern examples of smart objects which we use in our daily life. Micro-controllers like Arduino can be easily seen.

Non-Smart Objects :
Non-smart objects are generally those objects which do not have intelligence and processing capabilities. Sensors and actuators are non-smart devices.

  1. Sensors :
    Sensors are those electronic devices which are made of sensitive cells and have capabilities to measure or sense some physical or scientific quantity like temperature, pressure, the measure of any toxic gas, etc.

  2. Actuators :
    Actuators are those electronic devices which performs a specific task by collecting the information by sensors or like sensors over the internet. We can divide actuator into two parts –

    • Mechanic Actuators –
      These are those actuators which perform a task over themselves or any other object.

    • Actions –
      Actions are performed by an object. Like sending e-mails, vibrations.

By this analysis, we can easily classify the objects in the Internet of Things. Now, we can see that smart objects and the Internet of Things together can make complex applications because with their help we can communicate without human interaction. This becomes more important in those applications where human presence is not available all the time.

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