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Future Internet: The Internet of Things Architecture, Possible Applications and Key Challenges

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The Internet is continuously changing and evolving. The main communication form of present Internet is human-human. The Internet of Things (IoT) can be considered as the future evaluation of the Internet that realizes machine-to-machine (M2M) learning. Thus, IoT provides connectivity for everyone and everything. The IoT embeds some intelligence in Internet-connected objects to communicate, exchange information, take decisions, invoke actions and provide amazing services. This paper addresses the existing development trends, the generic architecture of IoT, its distinguishing features and possible future applications. This paper also forecast the key challenges associated with the development of IoT. The IoT is getting increasing popularity for academia, industry as well as government that has the potential to bring significant personal, professional and economic benefits.
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Future Internet: The Internet of Things Architecture,
Possible Applications and Key Challenges
Rafiullah Khan , Sarmad Ullah Khan , Rifaqat Zaheer and Shahid Khan §
DITEN Dept. University of Genova (UNIGE), 16145 Genova, Italy, Email: rafiullah.khan@unige.it
Electronics Dept. Politecnico Di Torino, 10129 Torino, Italy, Email: sarmad.khan@polito.it
Electronics Dept. Politecnico Di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy, Email: rifaqat.zaheer@mail.polimi.it
§Electrical Dept. COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Abbottabad, Pakistan, Email: shahid@ciit.net.pk
Abstract—The Internet is continuously changing and evolving.
The main communication form of present Internet is human-
human. The Internet of Things (IoT) can be considered as the
future evaluation of the Internet that realizes machine-to-machine
(M2M) learning. Thus, IoT provides connectivity for everyone
and everything. The IoT embeds some intelligence in Internet-
connected objects to communicate, exchange information, take
decisions, invoke actions and provide amazing services. This
paper addresses the existing development trends, the generic
architecture of IoT, its distinguishing features and possible future
applications. This paper also forecast the key challenges associ-
ated with the development of IoT. The IoT is getting increasing
popularity for academia, industry as well as government that
has the potential to bring significant personal, professional and
economic benefits.
Keywords-Internet of Things, ubiquitous computing, RFID, IoT
architecture, IoT applications, IoT security.
I. INTRODUCTION
The Internet of Things (IoT) provides connectivity for
anyone at any time and place to anything at any time and
place. With the advancement in technology, we are moving
towards a society, where everything and everyone will be
connected [1]. The IoT is considered as the future evaluation of
the Internet that realizes machine-to-machine (M2M) learning
[2]. The basic idea of IoT is to allow autonomous and secure
connection and exchange of data between real world devices
and applications [3]. The IoT links real life and physical
activities with the virtual world [4].
The numbers of Internet connected devices are increasing
at the rapid rate. These devices include personal computers,
laptops, tablets, smart phones, PDAs and other hand-held
embedded devices. Most of the mobile devices embed different
sensors and actuators that can sense, perform computation,
take intelligent decisions and transmit useful collected infor-
mation over the Internet [5]. Using a network of such devices
with different sensors can give birth to enormous amazing
applications and services that can bring significant personal,
professional and economic benefits [6].
The IoT consists of objects, sensor devices, communication
infrastructure, computational and processing unit that may
be placed on cloud, decision making and action invoking
system [7]. The objects have certain unique features and are
uniquely identifiable and accessible to the Internet. These
physical objects are equipped with Radio-Frequency IDen-
tification (RFID) tags or other identification bar-codes that
can be sensed by the smart sensor devices [6]. The sensors
communicate object specific information over the Internet
to the computational and processing unit. A combination of
different sensors can be used for the design of smart services.
The result of processing is then passed to the decision making
and action invoking system that determines an automated
action to be invoked.
This paper addresses the existing development trends, the
generic architecture of IoT, IoT distinguishing features and
possible future applications. The IoT is a hot research topic
that is getting increasing popularity for academia, industry as
well as government. Many European and American organi-
zations and multinatinal companies are involved in the design
and development of IoT to achieve different type of useful and
powerful automated services [1]. The IoT has to face many
challenges in its deployment specially in the field of security,
governance and standardization that are also addressed in this
paper.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section II
describes briefly the evolution of Internet. Section III presents
the generic architecture of IoT. Section IV forecasts possible
future application of IoT. Section V describes key challenges
in the design and implementation of IoT. Finally, Section VI
concludes the paper.
II. EVA L U AT I O N O F INTERNET OF THINGS
The Internet has tremendously evolved in the last few
years connecting billions of things globally. These things
have different sizes, capabilities, processing and computational
power and support different kind of applications [4]. Thus, the
traditional Internet merges into smart future Internet, called
IoT [1]. The generic scenario of IoT is shown in Fig. 1. The
IoT connects real world objects and embeds the intelligence in
the system to smartly process the object specific information
and take useful autonomous decisions [2]. Thus, IoT can give
birth to enormous useful applications and services that we
never imagined before [1].
With the advancement in technology, the devices processing
power and storage capabilities significantly increased while
their sizes reduced. These smart devices are usually equipped
with different type of sensors and actuators. Also these devices
Internet
Smart Farming
Smart Transport
Smart
Postal
Smart Health
Smart Home
Tel ev is io n
Refrigerator
Independent Living
IP Phones
Smart-phone
PDA
Tab le t
Notebook
PC
Figure 1: The IoT generic scenario.
are able to connect and communicate over the Internet that
can enable a new range of opportunities [3]. Moreover, the
physical objects are increasingly equipped with RFID tags
or other electronic bar codes that can be scanned by the
smart devices, e.g., smart phones or small embedded RFID
scanner. The objects have unique identity and their specific
information are embedded in the RFID tags. In 2005, the
International Telecommunications Union (ITU) proposed that
"Internet of Things" will connect the real world objects in both
a sensory and intelligent manner [8]. Fig. 2 shows basic IoT
system implementing different type of applications or services.
The things connect and communicate with other things that
implement the same service type. The basic simplified work-
flow of IoT can be described as follows:
1) Object sensing, identification and communication of ob-
ject specific information. The information is the sensed
data about temperature, orientation, motion, vibration,
acceleration, humidity, chemical changes in the air etc
depending on the type of sensors. A combination of
different sensors can be used for the design of smart
services.
2) Trigger an action. The received object information is
processed by a smart device/system that then determines
an automated action to be invoked.
3) The smart device/system provide rich services and in-
cludes a mechanism to provide feedback to the admin-
istrator about the current system status and the results
of actions invoked.
III. GENERIC ARCHITECTURE
Today’s Internet is using TCP/IP protocol stack for com-
munication between network hosts which was proposed long
time ago. However, the IoT connects billions of objects
which will create much larger traffic and much more data
storage is needed [9]. Also, IoT will face many challenges
specially related to privacy and security [10]. Thus, the new
Service Type 1 RFID Tags Service Type 2 RFID Tags
Sensors
Physical
Objects
Communication Infrastructure/Network
Computation and Processing System
Decision Making and Action Invoking unit
Figure 2: Basic IoT system.
proposed architecture for IoT needs to address many factors
like scalability, interoperability, reliability, QoS, etc. Since IoT
connects everything and everyone to exchange information
among themselves, the traffic and storages in the network will
also increase in the exponential way. Thus, IoT development
depends on the technology progress and design of various new
applications and business models. The basic architecture of
IoT is proposed in [9] and [11].
Generally, the structure of IoT is divided into five layers as
shown in Fig. 3. These layers are briefly described below:
1) Perception Layer: The Perception layer is also known as
‘Device Layer’. It consists of the physical objects and
sensor devices. The sensors can be RFID, 2D-barcode,
or Infrared sensor depending upon objects identification
method. This layer basically deals with the identification
and collection of objects specific information by the
sensor devices. Depending on the type of sensors, the
information can be about location, temperature, orienta-
tion, motion, vibration, acceleration, humidity, chemical
changes in the air etc. The collected information is then
passed to Network layer for its secure transmission to
the information processing system.
2) Network Layer: The Network layer can also be called
‘Transmission Layer’. This layer securely transfers the
information from sensor devices to the information
processing system. The transmission medium can be
wired or wireless and technology can be 3G, UMTS,
Wifi, Bluetooth, infrared, ZigBee, etc depending upon
the sensor devices. Thus, the Network layer transfers the
information from Perception layer to Middleware layer.
3) Middleware Layer: The devices over the IoT implement
different type of services. Each device connects and
communicates with only those other devices which im-
plement the same service type. This layer is responsible
for the service management and has link to the database.
It receives the information from Network layer and store
in the database. It performs information processing and
ubiquitous computation and takes automatic decision
based on the results.
4) Application Layer: This layer provides global manage-
Business Layer
Network Layer
Application Layer
Middleware Layer
Perception Layer RFID, Barcode,
Infrared Sensors
Secure
Transmission
Info Processing Service Management
Smart Applications and
Management
System Management
Flow-
charts Graphs
Physical Objects
3G, UMTS, Wifi,
Bluetooth, infrared,
ZigBee, etc
Ubiquitous Computing
Decision Unit
Database
Business
Models
Figure 3: The IoT Architecture.
ment of the application based on the objects information
processed in the Middleware layer. The applications
implemented by IoT can be smart health, smart farming,
smart home, smart city, intelligent transportation, etc.
5) Business Layer: This layer is responsible for the man-
agement of overall IoT system including the applications
and services. It builds business models, graphs, flow-
charts etc based on the data received from Application
layer. The real success of the IoT technology also
depends on the good business models. Based on the
analysis of results, this layer will help to determine the
future actions and business strategies.
IV. POSSIBLE FUTURE APPLICATIONS
The IoT can find its applications in almost every aspect of
our daily life. Below are some of the examples.
1) Prediction of natural disasters: The combination of
sensors and their autonomous coordination and simulation will
help to predict the occurrence of land-slides or other natural
disasters and to take appropriate actions in advance.
2) Industry applications: The IoT can find applications in
industry e.g., managing a fleet of cars for an organization.
The IoT helps to monitor their environmental performance
and process the data to determine and pick the one that need
maintenance.
3) Water Scarcity monitoring: The IoT can help to detect
the water scarcity at different places. The networks of sensors,
tied together with the relevant simulation activities might not
only monitor long term water interventions such as catchment
area management, but may even be used to alert users of
a stream, for instance, if an upstream event, such as the
accidental release of sewage into the stream, might have
dangerous implications.
4) Design of smart homes: The IoT can help in the design
of smart homes e.g., energy consumption management, in-
teraction with appliances, detecting emergencies, home safety
and finding things easily, home security etc.
5) Medical applications: The IoT can also find applications
in medical sector for saving lives or improving the quality of
life e.g., monitoring health parameters, monitoring activities,
support for independent living, monitoring medicines intake
etc.
6) Agriculture application: A network of different sensors
can sense data, perform data processing and inform the farmer
through communication infrastructure e.g., mobile phone text
message about the portion of land that need particular atten-
tion. This may include smart packaging of seeds, fertilizer
and pest control mechanisms that respond to specific local
conditions and indicate actions. Intelligent farming system
will help agronomists to have better understanding of the
plant growth models and to have efficient farming practices
by having the knowledge of land conditions and climate
variability. This will significantly increase the agricultural
productivity by avoiding the inappropriate farming conditions.
7) Intelligent transport system design: The Intelligent
transportation system will provide efficient transportation con-
trol and management using advanced technology of sensors,
information and network. The intelligent transportation can
have many interesting features such as non-stop electronic
highway toll, mobile emergency command and scheduling,
transportation law enforcement, vehicle rules violation mon-
itoring, reducing environmental pollution, anti-theft system,
avoiding traffic jams, reporting traffic incidents, smart bea-
coning, minimizing arrival delays etc
8) Design of smart cities: The IoT can help to design
smart cities e.g., monitoring air quality, discovering emergency
routes, efficient lighting up of the city, watering gardens etc.
9) Smart metering and monitoring: The IoT design for
smart metering and monitoring will help to get accurate auto-
mated meter reading and issuance of invoice to the customers.
The IoT can also be used to design such scheme for wind
turbine maintenance and remote monitoring, gas, water as well
as environmental metering and monitoring.
10) Smart Security: The IoT can also find applications
in the field of security and surveillance e.g., surveillance
of spaces, tracking of people and assets, infrastructure and
equipment maintenance, alarming etc.
The IoT is also getting increasing popularity for academia,
industry as well as government. Many international organi-
zations are involved in the development of IoT. Microsoft’s
Eye-On-Earth platform creates an environment where water
and air quality of a large number of European countries
can be viewed, thus aiding in climate change research [8].
The European Commission is also involved in the research
and development related to IoT. The Cluster of European
Research Projects on the Internet of Things (CERP-IoT) is
one of their active research project. The CERP-IoT look
for IoT applications in societal, industrial and environmental
domains [8]. The European FP7 project ‘The Internet of
Things Architecture’ (IoT-A) focuses on the possible standard
architecture for the IoT. Some other currently active European
FP7 research projects that focus on the development of IoT
includes IoT@Work, ‘The Internet of Things Initiative’ (IoT-
i) and ‘European Research Cluster on the Internet of Things’
(IERC). HP is also researching IoT based infrastructure in their
Central Nervous System for the Earth initiative. Their aim is
to populate the planet with billions of small sensors aimed at
detecting vibrations and motion.
The IoT applications will continuously evolve with the
passage of time but it has also to face many challenges related
to privacy, security, scale and complexity, sufficient spectrum
for connecting huge number of tagged objects or sensors etc.
Some of the key challenges are addressed in section V.
V. K EY CHALLENGES
The IoT can change the shape of the Internet and can
offer enormous economic benefits but it also faces many key
challenges [10], [12]. Some of them are briefly described
below.
1) Naming and Identity Management: The IoT will connect
billions of objects to provide innovative services. Each
object/sensor needs to have a unique identity over the
Internet. Thus, an efficient naming and identity man-
agement system is required that can dynamically assign
and manage unique identity for such a large number of
objects.
2) Interoperability and Standardization: Many manufactur-
ers provide devices using their own technologies and
services that may not be accessible by others. The
standardization of IoT is very important to provide better
interoperability for all objects and sensor devices.
3) Information Privacy: The IoT uses different kind of ob-
ject identification technologies e.g., RFID, 2D-barcodes
etc. Since, every kind of daily use objects will carry
these identification tags and embed the object specific
information, it is necessary to take proper privacy mea-
sures and prevent unauthorized access.
4) Objects safety and security: The IoT consists of a very
large number of perception objects that spread over some
geographic area, it is necessary to prevent the intruder’s
access to the objects that may cause physical damage to
them or may change their operation.
5) Data confidentiality and encryption: The sensor de-
vices perform independent sensing or measurements and
transfer data to the information processing unit over
the transmission system. It is necessary that the sensor
devices should have proper encryption mechanism to
guarantee the data integrity at the information processing
unit. The IoT service determines who can see the data,
thus, it is necessary to guard the data from externals.
6) Network security: The data from sensor devices is
sent over wired or wireless transmission network. The
transmission system should be able to handle data from
large number of sensor devices without causing any data
loss due to network congestion, ensure proper security
measures for the transmitted data and prevent it from
external interference or monitoring.
7) Spectrum: The sensor devices will require dedicated
spectrum to transmit data over the wireless medium. Due
to limited spectrum availability, an efficient dynamic
cognitive spectrum allocation mechanism is required
to allow billions of sensors to communicate over the
wireless medium.
8) Greening of IoT: The network energy consumption is
increasing at very high rate due to increase in data
rates, increase in the number of Internet-enabled services
and rapid growth of Internet connected edge-devices.
The future IoT will cause significant increase in the
network energy consumption. Thus, green technologies
need to be adopted to make the network devices as
energy efficient as possible.
VI. CONCLUSIONS
This paper introduced the emerging future form of Internet
called "Internet of Things" that will connect everything and
everyone. The IoT embeds intelligence in the sensor devices
to autonomously communicate, exchange information and take
intelligent decisions. Simply, IoT transitions human-human
communication to human-human, human-device and device-
device communication. This paper described briefly the eval-
uation of Internet, proposed the generic structure for IoT,
described possible future applications and some active inter-
national projects in the field of IoT and finally addressed some
key challenges associated with the IoT technology. The IoT
deployment could be hard and require large research efforts
to tackle with the challenges but it can provide significant
personal, professional and economic benefits in the near future.
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... The business layer is the top layer and manages all system activities and services, including the creation of business models according to the data received from the application layer. It also monitors and validates outputs from the other four layers according to business models to improve service quality and ensure user privacy [79,80]. ...
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تناول البحث دراسة التكنولوجيا المتقدمة في ضوء الثورة الصناعية الرابعة وتأثيرها على عملية تصميم المنتج، حيث تم عرض نبذة عن التطور التاريخي للثورات الصناعية السابقة وصولاً إلى الثورة الصناعية الرابعة وما حدث بها من تأثير على جميع المجالات وخاصةً مجال تصميم المنتجات وأهميتها والجوانب الرئيسية التي قامت عليها، وأسس بنائها وخصائصها وسماتها وأيضاً مبادئ تصميم الثورة الصناعية الرابعة، كما تم عرض التكنولوجيا المتقدمة وتأثيرها على دورة حياة المنتج، وأيضاً أوضح البحث أهمية تطبيق التكنولوجيا المتقدمة للثورة الصناعية الرابعة على جميع مراحل عملية التصميم، حيث إن لها تأثيراً كبيراً على تطوير العملية. وتم الوصول إلى نتائج البحث حيث تم دمج التكنولوجيا المتقدمة وأدواتها على برنامج التصميم الماسة المزدوجة (الدبل دايموند Double Diamond) وتطبيقها على تصميم منتج ذكي Smart Product وهو ماكينة قهوة ذكية Smart Coffee Machine. حيث تم تطبيق البرنامج الجديد على جميع مراحل التصميم من بداية البحث المبدئي والدراسات وتحليلها إلى وضع الأفكار واختيار الفكرة النهائية وتطبيقها. تناول البحث دراسة التكنولوجيا المتقدمة في ضوء الثورة الصناعية الرابعة وتأثيرها على عملية تصميم المنتج، حيث تم عرض نبذة عن التطور التاريخي للثورات الصناعية السابقة وصولاً إلى الثورة الصناعية الرابعة وما حدث بها من تأثير على جميع المجالات وخاصةً مجال تصميم المنتجات وأهميتها والجوانب الرئيسية التي قامت عليها، وأسس بنائها وخصائصها وسماتها وأيضاً مبادئ تصميم الثورة الصناعية الرابعة، كما تم عرض التكنولوجيا المتقدمة وتأثيرها على دورة حياة المنتج، وأيضاً أوضح البحث أهمية تطبيق التكنولوجيا المتقدمة للثورة الصناعية الرابعة على جميع مراحل عملية التصميم، حيث إن لها تأثيراً كبيراً على تطوير العملية. وتم الوصول إلى نتائج البحث حيث تم دمج التكنولوجيا المتقدمة وأدواتها على برنامج التصميم الماسة المزدوجة (الدبل دايموند Double Diamond) وتطبيقها على تصميم منتج ذكي Smart Product وهو ماكينة قهوة ذكية Smart Coffee Machine. حيث تم تطبيق البرنامج الجديد على جميع مراحل التصميم من بداية البحث المبدئي والدراسات وتحليلها إلى وضع الأفكار واختيار الفكرة النهائية وتطبيقها.
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