The hardware and software components eco of IoT – Internet of Things

Date: 19/02/2017
Sensors & Actuators + Semiconductors + Secured Connectivity + Automated Processes = IoT Systems

In the computer world, we have experienced with a revolution of technological advancements. The paradigm shifting from Text Operating System to Windows, Internet Evolution, Search engines, eCommerce, Mobiles, and Smart phones have opened up plethora of new opportunities and so the product developments. Successful are those who have learnt and adopted to these innovations.

In this journey, IoT (Internet of Things) is another evolution exploded with a Giga-size opportunities both in hardware and software. Utilizing the latest ultra-low power embedded devices connected to the internet, IoT allows the users to access ‘smart’ data and simultaneously control the system independently.

The IoT is a world running on cloud based services and applications with smart devices (edge nodes or things) and systems (aggregators, collectors) networked together. These devices are essentially embedded systems and smart objects connected to internet with unique IP address which can be discovered and communicated over internet. They use IPv6 addressing scheme which overcomes the limitation of IPv4 (supporting upto 4 billion unique addresses).

Many market research reports suggest that anything around 50~100 Billion IoT enabled devices are expected by the year 2020.

The IoT landscape is moving from higher-level, cloud-based processing to a distributed intelligence model in which data-driven decision making is migrating towards the edge nodes (things). The processing at the end node level is promoted as the devices have more sophisticated processing power and the ability to communicate important trends or differentials. Predictive data at the fingertips enable better, faster and empowered solutions – Thanks to the vast and growing technology of IoT.

The basic architecture of IoT is presented in the below diagram.

Components / Sub-systems of IoT

Various frameworks / topologies have emerged in the IoT market to facilitate smoother interconnection of IoT devices / objects in the IoT market, thereby enhancing the smart products to become better, safer, and smarter.

30% Hardware, 30% Software and 40% Communication Protocols/Standards collectively constitute to the Internet of Things components.

IoT Hardware:
The set of devices or physical objects which are responsive in nature, have the capability to retreive data and follow the instructions is termed as IoT Hardware.
Glimpse of few IoT hardware components and their providers:
Chips (Microcontrollers, System on Chips and RF / Communication ICs)
Top Manufacturers
Analog Devices ams
Broadcom Marvel
Cypress Maxim Integrated
Intel Microchip / Atmel
Nordic Qualcomm
NXP Semiconductors Silicon Labs
Renesas STMicroelectronics
Toshiba Texas Instrument

Development Boards and Reference Designs
Top Vendors
Arduino Cubieboard
BeagleBone Electric Imp
Intel Edison Flutter
Raspberry-Pi Gadgeteer
ST-Discovery Intel Galileo
Tessel 2

Other Components
Component Categories
Actuators DC-DC Converters
Interfaces Displays
Memories Integrated Modules
Relays / Switches Motors
Sensors Sub-systems

IoT Software:
The set of programs which enable the data collection, storage, processing, manipulating and instructing to and from IoT hardware components are called IoT Software. The operating systems, middleware or firmware, apps, etc., are few examples.
Software components and related standards are given below:

Comm / Transport

Data Protocols


Bluetooth CoAP Aeron JSON-LD
Cellular (GPRS, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) DDS CCN LsDL
IEEE 802.15.4 Mihini IPv4/IPv6 SENML
LPWAN Node ROLL Web Thing Model
Zigbee Websocket UDP



Multi-layer Framework

Device Management
DNS-SD IPv6 Alljoyn OMA-DM
Hypercat URIs Homekit TR-069
mDNS EPC IoTivity
Physical Web uCode Telehas
UPnP Thread

Open Source Cloud Platforms Embedded Operating Systems
AllJoyn Artik Cloud Abacus OS
Argot AWS IOT Ant Nut/OS
IoT Toolkit Cisco Cloud ClearConnex
Nimbits GE Predix Contiki
Nitrogen Google Cloud IoT EmberNet
OpenAlerts IBM Watson IoT FreeRTOS
RIOT ioBridge LiteOS
Saphire OS Microsoft Azure IoT Suite Mantis
The Thing System OpenHab Nano-RK
Thingspeak SensorCloud Smart-its
Thingsquare Mist Telit DeviceWise SNAP network operating system
Thingworx Tiny OS
Zebra Zatar Cloud


Partner Ecosystems
Gaia Carriots
MundoCore Electric Imp
ProSyst iOTOS
ROS Kynetx

IoT Standards and Alliances:

IoT Consortiums / Industry Groups
6LowPAN working group Alljoyn (AllSeen) Alliance OMA (Open Mobile Alliance)
Apple HomeKit Fairhair Alliance Industrial Internet Consortium
Arrayent Google Thread IoT-A
HomePlug Green PHY (HPGP) Lithouse IoTC
IFTTT (if this then that) Open Interconnect Consortium IPSO
Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) OpenWSN OneM2M
Sensor Web for IoT Standards Working Group RIOT OSIOT
ThreadGroup Sensinode Wi-SUN Alliance

Though the semiconductor chips represent only a key portion of the value chain in the IoT, the semiconductor companies’ focus on silicon may not be optimal. So, by providing comprehensive solutions that involve security, software or system-integration services in addition to hardware, the companies are transforming from component suppliers to solution providers. This could also enable the chip makers to capture maximum benefits in the IoT chain while the risk of expanding ventures outside their core strength still remains. Also, some makers have limited their R&D expenditures for IoT-specific chips.
The IoT will drive higher growth in application-specific microcontroller units (MCUs) and flexible System on Chip (SoC) type designs.
Anlaysts predict the following challenges in the IoT: 37% Security threats, 27% Data privacy, 9% Access management, 9% External attacks, 7% Compliance requirements, 6% Hardware challenges, and 2% 3rd Party data sharing.

Priority Applications (Verticals) of IoT:




Industrial Internet
Elderly Automation Automobiles Healthcare Machines
Fitness Hub Autonomous Retail Energy
Entertainment Security UAVs Payments / Loyalty Supply Chain
Family Kitchen Space Smart Office Robotics
Health Sensing Bicycles / Motorbikes Agriculture Industrial Wearables
Sports Pets Infrastructure
Toys Garden
Wearables Consumer Robotics, Trackers

Use Cases of IoT Applications:
· Smart Home (Smart Fridge, Smart Thermostat, Connected Lights, Smart Doorlock, Smoke Alarms, Infotainment)
· Energy Management (Smart Grid, Smart Metering)
· Smart City (Waste Management, Parking, Water Distribution, Urban Security, Street Light)
· Wearables (Smart Watch, Smart Glass, Smart Dress, Activity Tracker, Gesture Control)
· Industrial Internet (Smart Factory, Remote Asset Control, Machine to Machine Communication)
· Automotive and Transportation (Connected Cars, Connected Transport, Telematics, Traffic Routing, Autonomous / Self Driving Cars)
· Connected Health (Fluid Management, Medication Dispensing Service)
· Smart Supply Chain (Inventory, Fleet and Warehouse Management)
· Agriculture (Smart Farming, Carbon Nanotube Probe)

Further to this article we are providing sourcing information of Key IoT components such as Microcontroller, Sensor, Wireless ICs

A short guide on IoT Microcontroller chip selection

Smart and connected IoT sensors for your IoT edge design

Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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