Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wireless Communication for the Internet of Things

On last Thursday 11 of March, the University of Surrey held an event called "Wireless Communications to Enable the Internet of Things". This event was organized by the Wireless Sensing Interest Group of the Sensors & Instrumentation KTN and the Electronics KTN. The sessions featured the view of industrialist, academics and reports on existing deployments. I attended this event as a researcher from the University of Cambridge.

The event was organized around four sessions. The first session introduced the three main technologies that are considered the future of cellular communications, namely GPRS, 3G and LTE. The first two were introduced by ST Ericsson, and the talk focused on the key considerations for a communication project. It concluded that 2G and 3G networks are now pervasive and will stay for many years, and that they are best suited for environments which do not require massive amounts of data transfer such as machine-to-machine (M2M) applications. The second talk was given by NEC, and introduced LTE as the next generation cellular technology that will enable the Internet of Things. LTE was compared against HSPA+, and some NEC's ICT solutions based on this and other technologies were also presented.

The second session focused on issues in communications and location based services. Two companies presented: Libelium, a Spanish wireless sensor network start-up, and HW Communications, a British company dealing with mobile wireless communications. Libelium compared the 2.4Ghz, 686Mgh and 900Mhz bands for chips running the ZigBee / IEEE 802.15.4. Some test results were presented and the best configurations for each band were outlined. HW communications talked about location services, and the pros and cons of technologies such as cellular network positioning, triangulation and GPS.

The third session presented two implementations of short-range wireless networks. The first implementation, from the company Zarlink semiconductors, dealt with health-care implants and how to solve problems related with wireless communications. A solution based on a double frequency, single antenna implementation was presented, where a 2.4 Ghz link is used to wake up the device and the medical band MICS at 402Mhz is used for data communications. The second implementation was more of an academic introduction to energy storage technologies by Imperial College London.

The fourth and final session focused on solutions for large scale Wireless Sensor Networks. The first talk in this session introduced the implications of embedded devices and the Internet of Things in urban environments. The concept of Web of Things was introduced as hyperlinks given by physical objects, which is somewhat different from what other initiatives understand by Web of Things. The seconds and final talk on this session was about security and key management in Wireless Sensor Networks.

In my opinion, this event brought much about technologies and applications but little about what the Internet of Things is. It is probably not a good idea to put "Internet of Things" in the tittle without defining what is understood by it. Obviously, the event was oriented to the believe that the IoT is the same as ubiquitous computing or similar terms, but I think is quite clear that both concepts should not be same, because otherwise there would be no need for a new term. Most of the talks were useful to understand the advances in technologies and how companies and academia are aligning towards the future of wireless communications, but I gained no new knowledge on how wireless communications are going to enable the IoT, which is the main title of the event. This is not a new feeling for me though, since so many times I am hearing people talking about the IoT when they either don't know what the IoT is or its implications, or they think that is understood that the IoT is a something that everybody knows (when obviously, they don't know or don't agree on the same definition). Therefore this events has reinforced my believe that a globally agreed definition of what the Internet of Things is should be realised, or we will go deeper and deeper in the buzword hole that I talked about a while ago.


victoria said...

Good article. Purely technical and logical.

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Emma Kille said...

Excellent article! I prefer everyone to read this article...

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DevRabbit IT Solutions Inc. said...

The Article give nice information about Wireless Communication for the Internet of Things .The article is amazing.It nice to know that the Telecom sector is now along with IOT will give better Information.Thanks for sharing the information about it.
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