What is the Internet of Things?
I tend to gravitate towards neatly classified concepts: taxonomies, the five kingdoms of living things, the periodic table, musical genres, catalogs, etc. So it’s no surprise that Dr. Timothy Chou’s book, “Precision: Principles, Practices and Solutions for the Internet of Things,” resonated with me. He broke down his vision of the Internet of Things (IoT) into five layers:
- Layer 1: Things –Enterprise Things, whether that’s a gene sequencer, locomotive or water chiller, are becoming smarter and more connected.
- Level 2: Connect – Connecting Things requires a diverse set of technologies based on the amount of data that needs to be transmitted, how far it needs to go and how much power you have.
- Level 3: Collect – Things aren’t people. The sheer volume of data that can be generated by Things will be exponentially larger than that of Internet of People (IoP) applications.
- Level 4: Learn – With an increasing amount of data coming from Things, we’ll need to apply technology to learn from that data.
- Layer 5 Do –There will be both packaged applications (e.g. ERP, CRM) and middleware to build IoT applications.
The Role of the “Thing” Layer in the Internet of Things Concept
Using Dr. Chou’s layers as a backdrop, it’s interesting to explore the part that Internet of Things companies like KORE play within those the five layers. We’re continuously in pursuit of making the “Connect” layer a ubiquitous piece of the IoT experience, but let’s take a step back and look at “Things” in the context of IoT. While technology to connect things is rapidly advancing, most real-world physical objects change at a significantly slower pace than digital technology. Furthermore, the design cycles of capital assets are measured in years and the operational cycles in decades.
Think of the amount of time necessary to design a parking meter, a truck, a wind turbine, a train, a ship, a building. Now consider how long these assets need to remain operational to achieve ROI. It’s critical to design applications in terms of stable, real-world concepts, not in terms of rapidly changing technology trends. We want to start at the “Thing” layer with a meaningful abstraction of the objects we’re connecting.
When Connect, Collect, Learn and Do use data that is already normalized using real-world scenarios, we can write applications that stand the test of time. The emergence of new devices or sensors that map data from Things into their digital twins can be folded into the application without significant rewrite.
In the coming weeks, we will discuss how a digital twin-enabled application platform simplifies the process and enhances developer productivity for location-based applications. For a class of IoT applications where the location of a Thing is business critical, KORE’s Position Logic GPS tracking platform provides, in addition to Connect, several elements of Collect, Learn and Do.