The Internet of Things represents an opportunity for humanity to make better choices based on interconnections that improve the quality of our lives and society as a whole. In order for this opportunity to come to fruition, there are five critical requirements that must come to fruition.

Oleg Logvinov, Director of Market Development at STMicroelectronics and current Chair of the IEEE P2413 Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things Working Group, contributed this article to Electronic Design Magazine.

In reference to the IoT, Logvinov says, “At it’s heart, it is the disruptive convergence of technology, telecommunications, data, and people. It is the humanization of technology, the melding of disparate elements and systems into a unified platform, allowing us to connect more deeply with one another and the world around us.”

He argues that the IoT represents an opportunity for humanity to “make better choices based on these interconnections, improving the quality of not only our own lives, but society as a whole.”

In the article, Logvinov outlines five critical requirements for the success of IoT technology and devices, as summarized below:

  1. Smarter power consumption. The devices that fuel the IoT will require power. By Cisco Systems’ estimate, there will be 50 billion IoT-connected devices by 2020. How will all of these devices be powered? Logvinov comments that, “Even if those 50 billion things consumed only 10 mW each, that still adds up to needing more than 500 MW just to power the IoT of tomorrow.”
  2. Improved storage and management of data. The sheer data management needs of the IoT will be mind blowing, given the magnitude of devices used and the data received and calculated. As Logvinov notes with regards to power consumption, “With such a staggering demand for power, every possible measure must be taken to minimize consumption and maximize energy efficiency.” The same is true for the storage and management of the data that the IoT will create. MCU’s, discussed below under item four, will play a critical role in this.
  3. Safeguards for privacy and security. Evans Data Corp’s research shows that over 17% of the world’s software developers have turned their attention to the IoT, and another 23% are expected to follow within six months. The exponential proliferation of networked devices create exponentially prolific opportunities for security risk. As the IoT grows, the need for scalable identity management, privacy and security frameworks that can keep up with the rapid pace of development is desperately needed.
  4. High Performance Microcontrollers (MCU’s). According to Logvinov, if sensors and actuators can be likened to the nervous system for the IoT, MCUs are the brains behind it. Sensors are a small component with a large role to play in detecting, gathering and measuring data based on inputs and environment. “MCUs are one of the most important elements in sustaining the continued advance and expansion of the IoT. With their ability to monitor, analyze, and react to environmental data, today’s generation of MCUs bring much needed intelligence to the smart devices and systems that form the IoT. MCUs deliver meaningful and predictive analytics and data reduction. They also enable the management of data exposure through the application and maintenance of data models in support of applicable interaction models, all while minimizing power consumption and cost.” Along with other components critical to the IoT, MCUs, sensors, and actuators will need to be developed at a pace that matches the growth of IoT.
  5. Communication and Interoperability. The devices that fuel the IoT must be able to communicate with each other independently and without the need for human intervention. The intricacy of establishing and managing “machine-to-machine” (M2M) communication, as it pertains to the IoT is nearly indescribable, and the power that will be required to fuel this communication will be significant. It is seemingly impossible to think of a single communication technology that can support each and every case and operate in all possible environments. Logvinov believes, that “most likely, the IoT will leverage many communication technologies with the goal of delivering an ‘always on’ experience while minimizing the power consumed by the IoT.”

It has been predicted that 50 billion devices will be networked by 2020. However, some experts argue the estimate is on the low side.  Logvinov asserts that open standards will be critical to support the development areas above — serving as building blocks for the foundation of the IoT and speeding innovation.

Logvinov points to a number of standardization projects that have been launched recently, including IEEE’s own IEEE P2413, “IEEE Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things (IoT).” The IEEE P2413 project is working to develop a common core of open standards that include architectural frameworks, reference models, and data-abstraction blueprints to enable clearly defined relationships among the IoTs numerous verticals. Their hope is to minimize industry and vertical market fragmentation, improve interoperability, and allow for the building of IoT ecosystems that successfully and effectively leverage the power of all “things.”

What are your suggestions for how to solve for these key components of the IoT? Are there any components you would add to this list?