I Dream of IoT/Chapter 1 : IoT and Automation

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The Internet of Things is a very popular phenomena nowadays. Can you imagine how the world will be in the next five to 10 years with the development of this internet technology? It will become increasingly difficult for a human to control all the things by only using manual energy. It will be difficult to control and interface everything to improve systems and reduce waste. Additionally, the number of things connected to the internet exceeded the number of people on Earth, and that is still less than one percent of all the physical things in the world today. Of course, the cost of technology development will also increase. However, IoT and automation have the potential to overcome all these problems.[1]

For example, in the scope of business, mobile technologies and the Internet of Things will improve the interconnections in a company’s systems. Internet of Things will help the employees work more efficiently, improve operations and increase customer satisfaction. In many cases, a business or consumer will also be able to remotely control a device. For example, a business can remotely turn on or shut down a specific piece of equipment or adjust the temperature in a climate-controlled environment.

Meanwhile, in the everyday world, IoT and automation will improve human safety. For example, people may leave their home for a long time but forget to lock the door. With IoT automation, people can control the systems of their home with their mobile devices. Another example: when people go to the supermarket to buy groceries. With the information from their mobile device, people will be able to track and count everything while greatly reducing the total time and cost. And as computers and sensors with wireless capability become cheaper, it will become more affordable and practical to connect more things to the internet.[2][3]

What is IoT and automation?

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Small changes can make a big impact. It starts by building on the infrastructure that people already have in place, using devices and services in new ways. Reduce machine downtime and improve efficiency with predictive maintenance. Gain better control over global operations through real-time remote monitoring of geographically dispersed assets. Delight people with smart, connected products and drive revenue growth by offering value-added services on products. In some cases it can be defined in a way similar to machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, while in others it’s better defined as business intelligence. The Internet of Things and automation is essentially described, however, as having everything imaginable connected to a network so that information from all these connected "things" can be stored, transferred, analyzed and acted upon in new and usually automated ways. For example, if you have a system that’s supposed to run in a range from X to Y, you can put in a temperature sensor connected to a fiber-optic network to create an actionable warning before the system operates out of spec.[4]

Possible implementations of IoT and automation

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These days, embedding a sensor to an object, giving it the ability to communicate, is becoming more popular among many industries. Growth in building automation systems brings Internet of Thing into the realm of facilities management. Systems that control such building functions as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, security, refrigeration and lighting have historically operated as standalone entities. For the most part these functions have occupied a propriety niche, separated from mainstream IT systems and standards. Yet there are many industries — such as the automobile industry — that implement automation as a component of their manufacturing efforts.

Automatically piloted vehicles are increasingly popular. This concept is easier to envision when we think of such a vehicle as a mobile living area in which the driver isn't expected to just sit and watch the road go by. The future of the automobile will be centered on a new type of user who is no longer an in-control driver but the occupant of a space that can be configured to fulfill different needs. In the future, the vehicle will contain a unique identifying SIM/MIM card just like the one in mobile devices. This will give vehicles the capacity to gather information and share the data they collect with other vehicles and their owners. Vehicles would be able to communicate with each other, for example. We can presume that the self-driving vehicle will always be online and communicate real-time information about traffic, weather and road conditions. Instead of having drivers report traffic conditions to radio stations or police, who in turn communicate it to other drivers, vehicles will simply communicate with each other and with road infrastructure systems. Having vehicles connected to the internet also means that they can be linked to social network services where non-driving-related information can be shared.[5]

The processes of IoT and automation

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The process of automation in the IoT includes communication between devices and the ability to organize and integrate tools, people and processes through workflows.[6]

Whether it's manufacturing or the home, the automation process occurs as a person changing the existing state of a device, appliance, system or electronic component using an internal or external stimulus or via a triggered event as the result of the progression of time. In order to achieve this state of automation, a control message must be sent to the device to be acted upon. All modern building automation systems have alarm capabilities to detect a potentially dangerous situation and send out an alert through a computer or other communication device via email or instant message.

From which switch to use, what system to control, and which direction to turn the target device, some of the automation process involves nonhuman intervention, which mirrors the steps a person would take except that the system can manage what to do. In other cases, the automated system can make those same actions but only based on prior human input, including setting up specifications in advance for consistent automated operation. As home automation systems integrate various electrical devices within the home with each other, devices may be connected through a home network to allow control by access from the internet. Hence, systems and appliances are able to communicate with one another in an integrated manner which results in convenience, energy efficiency and improved safety.

More precisely, in the case of IoT, each of the steps a person would take to control something can be automated. What a person would do, the automation platform will do instead. In this step of automation, a person will receive an event trigger, decide the action, and deliver a control message based on a database of instructions. The person will use a networked device to send out the control message, receive feedback and adjust if necessary. In other words, the person simply control through instructions, and the action will be taken by the automated platform.[7]

The software and hardware of IoT and automation

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Generally speaking, there is no particular hardware/software platform the Internet of Things is built upon. The concept of IoT would be better understood as a platform-independent abstraction. Currently many different kinds of devices with different properties and different fields of application are marketed as applicable to IoT, from the small, simple and easy-to-use Microduino to the high-performance, highly professional IBM devices which support up to 13 million messages per second. For this article I will focus on the most commonly used hardware and software platforms.


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The Arduino platform is probably the most famous and most easy-to-use. It mainly consists of hardware referred to as an Arduino board and suitable software based on the processing language. Its biggest advantage is the convenient way to program it. There are hundreds of different libraries available, for probably every electrical device it can feasibly be connected with. So instead of thinking about the HD44780 protocol for connecting displays with all of its timing frames and control codes, one can simply use a ready-to-go library and print messages with one simple line of code like "lcd.print("hello, world!");"


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The software used to program the Arduino is basically a simplified version of C. The language, called Processing, was primarily developed for the programming of visually artistic kinds of things. Although Processing still exists, the "glory" of the Arduino has no peer. Every "sketch" (the name of source code in the Arduino world) consists of two parts. The first part is for setting up the project processes, things like which pin is connected to which device or how some library-related configurations are set up. This must be in the void setup() { ... } block. In the second part, the so called "loop" block void loop() { ... }, the forever looping part of the code comes in. This can be compared to the main function in C. An example code for setting up a LCD character display looks like this[8]:

  This example code is in the public domain.



// include the library code:
#include <LiquidCrystal.h>

// initialize the library with the numbers of the interface pins
LiquidCrystal lcd(12, 11, 5, 4, 3, 2);

void setup() {
  // set up the LCD's number of columns and rows: 
  lcd.begin(16, 2);
  // Print a message to the LCD.
  lcd.print("hello, world!");

void loop() {
  // set the cursor to column 0, line 1
  // (note: line 1 is the second row, since counting begins with 0):
  lcd.setCursor(0, 1);
  // print the number of seconds since reset:


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On the Hardware side, the Arduino is also quite simple. It mainly consists of an AVR microcontroller and a circuit for programming it. It would be beyond the scope of this guide to explain every particular aspect of the circuit; however, from our point of view as networking engineers, the way Arduino handles sensing devices is interesting. A sensor can either be connected directly with wires on the pins it needs, or one can purchase so called Arduino shields which have the whole circuit for operating the sensor inside. These shields are convenient to use and are simply attached on top of the Arduino board. Apart from that, the form factor of the Ardunio is also more than suitable for IoT applications. Arduinos feature lots of different shapes and forms, and the whole platform is open-source from head to toe. Examples include the tiny NanoDuino or a flexible LilyPad for wearables. The possibilities are endless.

The industrial applications of IoT and automation

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In many ways, having intelligent devices can be seen as the role of programmable logic controllers and distributed control systems. More devices will be connected and more machine components will be monitored. Today we are already using mainstream interfaces, including tablets and smartphones, to communicate with control systems. They can control building functions such as security, lighting and air conditioning. However, there is reluctance to add devices to a control system unless they are genuinely needed for such control due to cost factors. The hope of IoT is to remove some of those barriers and make any information available to authorized individuals anywhere and anytime.[9]

Industrial processes will create more data than any other source. The enabling of devices for generating and transmitting data will be more prominent than ever, whether it's via local devices or those in a remote or nearly inaccessible location. These processes will be connected and networked allowing for data sharing, cost lowering and process optimization, making for better and faster decision making in real time. Automation networks will use data to self-configure, self-regulate and provide their own efficiency improvements. Many decisions will be made by the machine itself, focusing on improving the efficiency of the system and addressing things like energy usage, security and the tuning process.


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IoT and automation stand to connect many devices, tools, and machines to the internet so that all the resulting information can be counted, stored, transferred and analyzed automatically via network connections. IoT and automation is beneficial and advantageous. It not only can reduce human intervention; it can also facilitate work more readily. Additionally, IoT and automation can be utilized across many spectrum, including business, learning, human safety, facility management and so on. It will not only increase operational efficiency, improve productivity and lower costs, but IoT will likely lead to the average human living a higher standard of life.[9]


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  1. "An Introduction to the Internet of Things (IoT)" (PDF). Lopez Research, LLC. November 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  2. Murphy, C. (5 May 2014). "Internet Of Things: What's Holding Us Back". Information Week. UBM. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  3. Rhines, W.C. (2015). "Cost challenges on the way to the Internet of Things". 2015 International Symposium on VLSI Design, Automation and Test (VLSI-DAT). doi:10.1109/VLSI-DAT.2015.7114553.
  4. Slaughter, A.; Bean, G.; Mittal, A. (14 August 2015). "Connected barrels: Transforming oil and gas strategies with the Internet of Things". Deloitte University Press. Retrieved 12 May 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. "From the Smartphone to the Smartcar". Nurun. Publicis Worldwide. 15 January 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  6. Nizri, G.; Rouse, M. (May 2012). "IT process automation". WhatIs.com. TechTarget. Retrieved 12 May 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. "Automation". Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  8. SM (17 August 2015). ""Hello World!"". Arduino.cc. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  9. a b Lydon, B. (March–April 2014). "Internet of Things: Industrial automation industry exploring and implementing IoT". InTech Magazine. International Society of Automation. Retrieved 12 May 2016.


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Authors and editors: Saadah, Rahimah; Aishah, Saiful Adli; Furkan, Nadia