The IoT: are we there yet?

The concepts of the Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Everything (IoE), Industry 4.0, autonomous driving, smart cities, eHealth, and relatives, have become ubiquitous in our daily lives.

The IoT Solutions World Congress and the Smart City Expo World Congress were celebrated in Barcelona by the end of last year again. These events evidenced the facts that there is a non-stoppable growing interest from the industry and from the users into all these concepts of connecting things and getting value out of gathered data, and that technology is getting mature enough to provide real and cost-effective solutions.

However, the IoT is still not present in our daily lives. Why?

From my view, the success of the IoT will come from at least three different fronts:

  1. Societal acceptance,
  2. Capability of getting value out of it, and
  3. Availability of technology to leverage its potential.

Let’s elaborate them a little bit.

First, the IoT needs society to accept it; that’s a fact. The 4th Industrial revolution brought by the Internet of Things will change our daily lives forever. This will imply destruction of jobs where involving a human being brings no added-value. At the same time, new jobs with remarkable added-value brought by the human factor will be created. These new jobs will require highly skilled people, which is good on one side; however, we will need to face the challenge of relocating non-skilled labor.Otherwise, technology will not be accepted by society and may fail in achieving all expectations. In addition, the acceptance of the IoT by society must be driven by ease of use of technology and, above all, trusted security and privacy mechanisms. If we cannot put secure and private communications into place, people may be reluctant to connect their homes, cars, or health-monitoring devices to the Internet, thus failing to push this fourth wave of innovation. The IoT is about enabling transparency, and transparency is not always what we want.

Second, it is essential that we manage to find ways of monetizing the IoT and actually getting value of connecting things. Indeed, it is not just about connecting all things, but just connecting those things which can bring some value by being connected. We can see out in the press and professional social networks lots of news informing of new start-ups attracting funding from venture capitalists and business angels. Also, big tech companies are acquiring small-sized start-ups which are growing rapidly to provide IoT solutions. However, it is still not clear what the business models may be behind all this buzz. It is clear that the market is huge and the opportunity is unique; however, still ways of understanding the IoT ecosystem and value chain model creation are to be further understood. We have seen already in the past good technology hypes which have ended in nothing due to the lack of a clear value generation model. The IoT will not be the same, but still some efforts are required to ensure this. The best is yet to come.

Last, but definitely not least, technology must be ready and put into order to make the IoT and the 4th Industrial Revolution a real thing. One of the key domains of technology relevant to the IoT is connectivity. Today, connectivity technologies are still
not ready to provide efficient Machine-Type Communications (MTC). These are radically different from Human-Type Communications (HTC) and need a redesign of communication networks, sometimes, bringing into play new disruptive paradigms. Efforts are clearly being done, but still more work is necessary to enable applications where reliability and extreme low delay are necessary, or those where zero-power
operation enabling perpetual operation of devices is sought, or those where tiny low-cost embedded sensors need to be able to transmit real-time video monitoring data.
The near-future will bring a new generation of communication networks (5G) which will coexist with a plethora of Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies as well as short-range communication technologies (Zigbee, WiFi, Bluetooh, LiFi, RFID, etc.).
However, still changes will be necessary after 5G is defined to cope with the rapidly evolving needs of new IoT applications being created and envisioned every
day. Concepts like the tactile internet, where data can be transmitted with zero-latency and jitter from one end to another, are non-trivial to achieve. Therefore, further research, development and innovation actions are required. In all this process, it is necessary to ensure that standards come to a certain common agreement; otherwise, the current unspecified arena may lead to nothing good. As I heard recently in the LPWA event
2016, also in Barcelona: “noise does not help anyone”.

So, to wrap up: The IoT: are we there yet? I would say that we are on the right way to make it happen, but still many challenges need to be solved before the IoT becomes really omnipresent.What do you think?

 

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IoT Networks Event and Smart City Expo

Hi,

Next Wednesday, November 16th, I will be opening, chairing and conducting the IoT Networks Event in Barcelona. Among others, we will hold a panel to discuss about Private or Public IoT Networks?

I always try to be updated on my tech readings, but I usually also try to read even more updated information when I am about to discuss with the top reputed experts in the area; as it will happen in a couple of days. Very excited about it, by the way! Along my search for latest news about the topic, I have come across this very nice read which I highly recommend to those interested in the topic. I will come back by the end of the week with the take away messages that I can take from the discussion on Wednesday.

In addition to this highly interesting event, this week, I will also attend the Smart City Expo in Barcelona. This event turns Barcelona into a Smart City hot spot for 3 days. Exhibitors and a set of talks from reputed experts in the area will be running for 3 days. This will set the technology focus in Barcelona, once again. Of course, CTTC cannot miss this opportunity, and we will have a booth there. I will take the opportunity to talk to users, experts, techies, entrepreneurs and even politicians; these events are really nice to share knowdledge with people and always, always learn.

Hope to see you around!

Jesus

Goodbye, ALOHA

Hi all,

I am very proud to announce that our paper “Goodbye, ALOHA” has been published in the IEEE Access Journal. This is an open-access paper, which means that it is for FREE. You can access the full paper clicking here.

In this paper we discuss why it is now time to go away from ALOHA-based communication protocols (used in LTE, WiFi, Zigbee, Lora, Sigfox, RFID, etc.), and instead shift to something more advanced. The era of DQ is coming.

This is the full abstract:

The vision of the Internet of Things (IoT) to interconnect and Internet-connect everyday people, objects, and machines poses new challenges in the design of wireless communication networks. The design of medium access control (MAC) protocols has been traditionally an intense area of research due to their high impact on the overall performance of wireless communications. The majority of research activities in this field deal with different variations of protocols somehow based on ALOHA, either with or without listen before talk, i.e., carrier sensing multiple access. These protocols operate well under low traffic loads and low number of simultaneous devices. However, they suffer from congestion as the traffic load and the number of devices increase. For this reason, unless revisited, the MAC layer can become a bottleneck for the success of the IoT. In this paper, we provide an overview of the existing MAC solutions for the IoT, describing current limitations and envisioned challenges for the near future. Motivated by those, we identify a family of simple algorithms based on distributed queueing (DQ), which can operate for an infinite number of devices generating any traffic load and pattern. A description of the DQ mechanism is provided and most relevant existing studies of DQ applied in different scenarios are described in this paper. In addition, we provide a novel performance evaluation of DQ when applied for the IoT. Finally, a description of the very first demo of DQ for its use in the IoT is also included in this paper.

Enjoy!

Jesus

Cellular Networks for the Smart Grid

Hello World,

Our latest paper “Cellular Communications for Smart Grid Neighborhood Area Networks: A Survey“, published at the prestigious IEEE Access Journal, has been already made available for the audience. Access is open and free. You can reach the paper in this link: http://goo.gl/QroAgM

This is the result of a joint work with ABB, in Sweden. Putting together ICT and the grid together is quite a tough challenge, but we are getting there.

The abstract of the paper is as follows:

This paper surveys the literature related to the evolution of cellular communications as a key enabling technology for fundamental operations of smart grid Neighborhood Area Networks (NANs). The latest releases of the LTE standard, representing the recent advancements in cellular technology, offer significant benefits to the modernization of the aging power distribution grid compared to other communication technologies. However, since LTE was not originally designed for smart grid applications, important challenges remain unsolved before it can efficiently support advanced NAN functionalities. This survey identifies the limitations of LTE and provides a comprehensive review of the most relevant proposed architectural and protocol enhancements for the communication infrastructure associated with smart grid NANs that can be found in the literature to date. As Device-to-Device (D2D) communications in LTE standards are a promising technology for reducing delay and boost reliability, this paper dwells on the potential gains that can be achieved by enabling direct communication using cellular networks, and also discusses in detail LTE-D2D applicability in representative NAN use cases in the power distribution grid. We conclude by stating open issues and providing research directions for future research in the field. This paper constitutes the first comprehensive survey of proposed LTE-enhancement and D2D solutions for smart grid NANs.

Hope you enjoy the read.

Best,

Jesus

Associate Professor at UPF

Hi all,

I am very happy to share with you that since April 2016, I will be Associate Professor at Universitat Pompeu i Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona (Spain). I am not changing job; this is an activity that I will do in addition to my current position at CTTC. At UPF, I will be teaching during the Spring semester on the topic of Internet of Things: reviewing market and business concepts, wireless technology trends and technologies, and offering a hands-on experience creating IoT prototypes using Arduino and Xbee modules. Let’s say, it will be an end-to-end IoT experience for the students, and also for me, of course.

I think that this lecturing position at one of the best universities in Spain will be a great opportunity for me to spread the IoT word and to be in contact with the new generation of engineers that will be part of the IoT arena in the very near-future.

Best,

Jesus

www.theiot.es

Dear friends,

Today I write this post to talk about one of our new ventures: www.theiot.es.

What is this?

A new website and blog related to the IoT, with particular focus on wireless technology and applications.

Why?

There is so much information out there in the Internet related to the IoT that it becomes sometimes hard to keep focus on what is really worth reading. I personally spend lots of time in surfing the web and twitter to discover really worthy news and information related to the IoT.

After some random thoughts, I decided to set up a website with that information that I think is very interesting and relevant related to the IoT. And this is www.theiot.es.

What will be there?

– Links to interesting companies, alliances, products, etc.

– A Blog and Video Blog with entries written by myself talking about topics related to the IoT.

– A blog with entries written by contributors; these are people I trust which I would love to invite to contribute to the website. If you’re interested in becoming a contributor, drop me an e-mail at “thinkaboutthetiot@gmail.com“.

Hope to see you around!

Best,

Jesus

Long Range WPAN Extensions in ns-3

Dr. Tatjana Predojev, formed PhD Candidate at CTTC, has released today part of her work carried out over the last 4 years while conducting her PhD Thesis on Long Range Low Power Wireless Technologies.

She extended the lr-wpan code of ns-3 to introduce duty-cycling based on Time Division Multiplex Access (TDMA) which resembles the Time Synchronized Channel Hopping (TSCH) protocol proposed in:

IEEE Standard, “Low rate wireless personal area networks (LR-WPANs) amendment 1: MAC sublayer,” IEEE Standard 802.15.4e, 2012.

The implementation includes all Medium Access Control (MAC) features except for the the channel hopping.

The repository of the code is now public and you are welcome to use it:

https://bitbucket.org/tatjana_predojev/lr-wpan-tdma

In concrete, the most significant changes introduced are in the following modules:

/src/lr-wpan
lr-wpan-mac
=> implemented packet acknowledgements (ACKs), duty-cycling, link scheduler
refactored code to introduce MAC state

/src/propagation
shadowing-realization
propagation-loss-model
=> implemented log-normally distributed, time-correlated shadowing

Aris Gkoutzos , an undergraduate student supervised by Dr. Predojev, implemented

/src/energy
lr-wpan-energy-model

A detailed description of the implemented algorithm can be found in the open access journal:

T. Predojev, J. Alonso-Zarate, M. Dohler, and L. Alonso, Energy Consumption Optimisation for Duty-Cycled Schemes in Shadowed Environments, International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks, Hindawi, http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/709135, 2014.

There are no guarantees for any functionality, nor was the standard implemented in detail.
Nevertheless, we hope someone will find it useful.

Cheers,
Jesus