This blog is part of the IEEE IoT Brain Trust series. This collection of blogs will explore IoT in the industry. 

As you read this blog, work is well underway to enable the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) enabled by “cloud,” “fog” and “edge” computing, which could have profound implications for readers of ECN.

End user’s physical devices are becoming multi-purpose and will serve diverse functions for the “connected person” as long as connectivity remains enabled to additional functions in the cloud. For commercial entities, there are similar requirements for agile, dynamic computing capabilities to support business functions.

The optimal distribution of functions among devices, network elements, as well as servers in datacenters is a challenge for the architects of IoT and cloud computing. Interoperability among all the hardware and software elements involved will be critical for successful solutions and standards are needed to make this happen.

The IoT will require a vast network of sensors, devices and everyday objects or “things” that serve everyday needs, from smart thermostats to smart cars, which will feed data – Big Data – to every connected person’s personal cloud for processing and resulting insights, forecasts and other outputs. Some processing of data is likely to be done at the device level to avoid overburdening data networks. While an end user’s number of different personal devices shrinks, his single device includes a variety of functions enabled by components for sensing, communications, imaging capture etc. In addition, electronic component design and integration will enable to communication among sensor networks and everyday appliances and “things” at the cloud’s “edge” providing additional user value.

Thus it behooves electronic component and device designers, integrators and manufacturers to at least monitor if not participate in the development of standards that affect the future of their work.

A cloud-enabled IoT could provide a means to access, monitor and to some extent control one’s digital world, from the home area network to the larger world. It has implications for healthcare, education, transportation, personal finance – all the industry verticals served by today’s Internet. Wearable medical devices, for instance, may connect through the cloud to monitoring software correlated with datasets created from various Big Data sources such as genomic data, clinical drug studies and epidemiological histories.

Today, there are various IEEE initiatives on aspects of IoT and the cloud, most notably the IEEE Computing Society’s Cloud Computing Initiative, the IEEE IoT Initiative, and the IEEE Big Data Initiative.   

The foundation remains the development of pertinent standards. The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) provides an open, transparent, collaborative process with broad participation to ensure that resulting standards ensure interoperability, which grows markets and produces economies of scale. Economies of scale bring down costs and, thus, prices, leading to further market growth. We suggest keeping a close eye on the following standard currently in development.

IEEE Project P2413 – Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things (IoT) will define an architectural framework to promote cross-domain interaction, aid system interoperability and functional compatibility, and further fuel the growth of the IoT market.

Security- and privacy-related standards requirements for the IoT are being developed under the Quadruple Trust Sub-Working Group of P2413. (Quadruple Trust refers to security, privacy, protection, and safety.)

Additional IEEE standards and projects cover topics such as the cloud, high efficiency networks, network security, and sensors. 

Of course, challenges remain. How integration and scale will be managed in this developing scenario of global sensor networks and cloud-based processing remains unknown. But those who closely follow the standards development process will have a leg up on their competitors in understanding the direction we’re heading. Those who participate in the standards development process will be setting that direction.