• Xander Stevenson

Smart Objects: Definition and Trends

Smart objects are the building blocks of the Internet of Things (IoT). In the past, I've built an Infrared Temperature Scanner using a Raspberry Pi and some accessories. A standalone device like this can be extremely useful. However, "the real power of smart objects in IoT comes from being networked together rather than being isolated as standalone objects. This ability to communicate over a network has a multiplicative effect and allows for very sophisticated correlation and interaction between disparate smart objects"

By definition, a smart object must contain the following features:

  1. Processing Unit - a small computer, typically featuring an AMD chipset, which receives input from sensors and produces output for actuators and/or for communication with other devices (which can include other smart objects, controllers, gateways, routers, back haul network)

  2. Sensor(s) and/or actuator(s) - sensors collect or measure data, which is then processed by the processing unit (see above) to produce a digital representation of that data, which can then be acted upon, either by actuation or communication. Actuators do things and are usually classified by the type of motion they produce, their power output, whether they're binary or continuous, their area of application or their type of energy (mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, electromagnetic, etc.)

  3. Communication device(s) - this unit is responsible for connecting the smart object with other smart objects and/or the network. In IoT Edge devices, communication is usually wireless.

  4. Power source - because IoT devices are often scattered in the field, it's often impractical to power them externally. This, most smart objects are battery-powered (long-lasting) or utilize solar or other power which can be claimed from the surrounding environment.

Trends in Smart Objects

- Size is decreasing

- Power consumption is decreasing

- Processing power is increasing

- Communication capabilities are improving

- Communication is being increasingly standardized

The future of IoT is tremendous and experts predict we'll see trillions of sensors in the field within a few years.

For more info regarding smart devices, read The Future is Made of Smart Objects and Data in TechNews over at ECmapping.com

Source: IoT Fundamentals: Networking Technologies, Protocols, and Use Cases for the Internet of Things (Hanes, Salgueiro, Grossetete, Barton, Henry; Cisco Press, 2017)

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