IP Protocols for the IOT

Christian Legare, Vice President and CTO of Micrium and IPSO Alliance Vice President , will be a featured speaker at the Embedded World Conference in Nuremburg, Germany on Thursday, February 26.

Session description:

Protocols for the Internet of Things Even though this industry is very young, we are starting to see the emergence of two types of IoT systems: Industrial IoT and Human IoT. The software requirements for industrial and consumer IoT devices can differ quite a bit. Although they might share a common kernel and low-level services, the middleware required by their applications can be radically different. It is certainly possible to build an IoT system with existing Web technologies, even if it is not as efficient as the newer protocols. HTTP(S) and Websockets are common standards, together with XML or JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) in the payload. When using a standard Web browser (HTTP client), JSON provides an abstraction layer for Web developers to create a stateful Web application with a persistent duplex connection to a Web server (HTTP server) by holding two HTTP connections open. XMPP is another web technology that is finding its place in the IoT. Many IoT experts refer to IoT devices as constrained systems because they believe IoT devices should be as inexpensive as possible and use the smallest MCUs available, while still running a communication stack. Currently, adapting the Internet for the IoT is one of the main priorities for many of the global standardization bodies. These Internet-specific IoT protocols have been developed to meet the requirements of devices with small amounts of memory, and networks with low bandwidth and high latency. This is what 6LoWPAN (for WSN) and CoAP (light Internet protocol) bring to the IoT universe. HTTP can be a heavy protocol for an IoT device. It has large messages because they are sent in human-readable format. For IoT devices, payload size is often a constraint. For a large family of devices, reporting and accepting commands can be done more efficiently with a much lighter protocol. MQTT has been proposed as the answer to these problems. MQTT is not an IETF standard, and is driven by IBM and the Eclipse foundation. It is understandable that new product designs make use of existing web technologies, as they are familiar to developers. A transition from web technologies to dedicated IoT-specific technologies will continue for the next few years. The Internet Protocol (IP) is a carrier; it can encapsulate just as many protocols for the IoT as it does today for the Web. A lot of industry pundits are calling for protocol standardization. But if there is such a large number of protocols for the Web, why wouldn’t there be just as many for the IoT? You choose the protocols that meet your requirements. The only difference is that the IoT protocols are still fairly young, and have yet to demonstrate their reliability. Remember that, when the Internet became a reality, IP version 4 was what made it possible. We are now massively deploying IP version 6, and IoT is the killer application that telecommunication carriers have been waiting for to justify the investment required.

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