Internet of Things: Possibilities and Challenges

Internet of Things: Possibilities and Challenges

Sumit Kumar (School of Computer & Systems Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India) and Zahid Raza (School of Computer & Systems Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSOE.2017070103
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Internet of Things (IoT) is a novel approach of connecting things/objects and thus transmitting information between various entities of the physical world or to the control centers where this information can be interpreted. IoT has been poised as the next evolution of internet promising to change our lives by involving a seamless access to people and devices in a ubiquitous way leading to a smart world. These devices, often referred to as smart items or intelligent things can be home appliances, healthcare devices, vehicles, buildings, factories and almost anything networked and fitted with sensors, actuators, and/or embedded computers. IoT promises to make the world smarter and proactive by enabling things to talk and others to understand. This work first presents an insight into the origin of IoT and its network as well as data centric architecture while listing the major possibilities. The seemingly important role and challenges of using Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) which acts as the base in sensing and monitoring has been discussed. Since, the future lies in utility computing, best realized in the form of cloud computing, a cloud centric view of IoT is also presented.
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1. Introduction

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network link of the objects as well as computers, sensors, humans etc. supported by Internet or a collection of clouds to achieve anything and anywhere or everywhere computing and was introduced in 1999 at MIT. Till now, the basic use of the Internet is to connect computational machines to machines while communicating in the form of web pages. IoT goes one step further to connect each and everything useful in this world over the internet using a wireless network of sensors sensing everything in our daily life being aided with the growing presence of open wireless technology like Bluetooth, RFID, Wi-Fi and the promising 4G-LTE. These things can be any type, size, use, and architecture generating various kinds of data along with computational needs varying with respect to place and time (Hwang, Dongarra, & Fox, 2012; Karimi & Atkinson, n.d.; Gubbia, Buyya, Marusic & Palaniswami, 2013; Atzori, Iera, & Morabito, 2010; Zanella, Bui, Vangelista & Zorzi, 2014).

It is an accepted fact that the growth of information technology has not left any part of our life untouched. This is primarily because of the penetration of the smart devices in our day to day life with the situation drastically changing in 2007 with Steve Jobs unveiling the iPhone. As an estimate, approximately 7.6 billion people are expected to be using 50 Billion devices connected to them directly or indirectly which according to the Cisco IBSG is IoT with more number of devices connected to an individual than people (Evans, 2011). Based on these numbers, Cisco IBSG estimates the birth of IoT between the period 2008 and 2009 as shown in Figure 1. The Oxford English Dictionary added a definition for “Internet of Things” in September 2013 as “A proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data” (Hwang, Dongarra, & Fox, 2012).

Figure 1.

Estimated birth of IoT by Cisco IBSG (Evans, 2011)


IoT is a very wide and new research area. Hence, there are not any standard and existing definitions for IoT as of now. Some of the other popular definitions are presented below:

  • Definition by Lu & Neng, (2010): “Things in IoT have identities and virtual personalities operating in smart spaces using intelligent interfaces to connect and communicate within social, environment, and user contexts;”

  • Definition by the European Commission (2011): “The basis and semantic concepts is composed by two words: Internet and Thing, where Internet can be explained as the world-wide network of interconnected computer networks, based on a standard and existing communication protocol like TCP/IP. The Thing is an object not exactly identification. Hence, semantically, Internet of Things means a world-wide network of interconnected objects exclusively addressable, based on standard and existing communication protocols;”

  • Definition byGuillemin and Friess (2009): “The Internet of Things allows people and things to be connected anytime, anyplace, with anything and anyone, ideally using any path/network and any service.”

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