The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing human lives and the way companies operate by continuously enhancing how we connect equipment. When the topic of IoT is discussed, the conversation typically centers around cloud computing and big data analytics, but sensors and gateways are just as much at the core of IoT. In fact, sensors are arguably the most critical element in IoT applications since they are the component that makes the devices “smart”. So how exactly do those sensors paired with the other IoT elements such as gateways create a framework that acts as a central nervous system?
Sensors act as individual nerves and the gateway is the nervous system
Within the vast array of devices that compose the IoT world, there is a growing number of small, sophisticated sensors that together are transmitting signals like those of the human nervous system. In the human body, the central nervous system collects continuous streams of sensory data and transmits that information to the brain, where it is processed. Like the human body, an IoT gateway serves as the connection point between the cloud and controllers, sensors and intelligent devices. All data moving to the cloud, or vice versa, goes through the gateway, which can either be a dedicated hardware appliance or software program.
For instance, for fleet equipment companies, each piece of equipment is part of an entire connected system where the sensors continuously submits and collects data and send it to the gateway to preprocess before it goes to the cloud to be analyzed. To minimize the volume of data that needs to be forwarded to the cloud, an IoT gateway aggregates the data, which can have a big impact on response times and network transmissions, before sending it to the cloud.
Encryption is key to keeping this ‘nervous system’ secure
As the number of devices and sensors grow in an IoT solution, so does the number of communications that will take place over a combination of public and private networks. Communications between the ‘things’, the gateway and the cloud therefore must be secure in order to prevent any data tampering or unrestricted access. Therefore, the data between the sensors, gateway and cloud is encrypted from end-to-end to preserve confidentiality, integrity and authenticity. In other words, only the IoT device and receiving cloud service hold the cryptographic keys and the gateway acts as an illiterate messenger, passing along messages that it can’t decipher.
A gateway’s role in evaluating system performance and device control
As you can see, within an IoT system the cloud infrastructure is just as important as the devices themselves. IoT devices are no good if they can’t connect to the cloud. For instance, the gateway Parker utilizes for Mobile IoT, is an IoT solution specifically designed for off-road equipment OEMs and fleet managers. This gateway can be used with any J1939 CAN based control system, however, has a high level of integration with IQAN controllers for a user-friendly experience. By utilizing this enhanced gateway, our Mobile IoT solution connects data from off-road equipment to a secure Parker cloud and then presents information through an easy to configure interface that delivers advanced insights and data-driven value. These insights have the potential of helping users avoid unplanned downtime events through continuous monitoring with the use of alarms or analytical models.
So, whether you are connecting legacy devices or new devices to your IoT ecosystem, an IoT gateway does have a very important role to play when connecting data to the cloud.
Article contributed by Clint Quanstrom, IoT general manager, Motion Systems Group, Parker Hannifin Corporation and Kyri McDonough, marketing communications manager, Parker Hannifin Corporation.