In the previous part of this series on Wearables and Internet of Things, we briefly discussed about the wearables. In this part, we will discuss the basics on Internet of Things and the communication protocols used in conjuction of current wearable technology. Historically wearables were simple mechanical calculators. But right now, wearables means some sort of electronics using communication protocols.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things unites the virtual world with the real world. Objects become intelligent in the Internet of Things and independently exchange information over the Internet. The Internet of Things is based on RFID technology. Through this technology, objects get their own identity and can capture states. Furthermore, these items can independently perform actions, for example, to find their own goal. The Internet of Things is based on the following principles:
- Storage of individual information on the object
- Networking of objects
- Individual decision-making based on locally evaluated information
- Individual services on demand for real-time, event-oriented control of processes
The term “Internet of Things” was coined in 1999 by the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Here, for the first time, an RFID infrastructure was designed, according to which computers can obtain information from humans, record states and carry out actions. In 2002, the title “Internet of Things” was first mentioned in Forbes Magazine.
By 2005, the term was included in book titles. The first scientific conference was held in 2008. In 2009, the Commission of the European Communities published an action plan addressed to the European Parliament. The Action Plan concludes that the Internet of Things is a prospect for the next 5 to 15 years. A pro-active approach is also proposed to secure the benefits for economic growth and individual well-being.
Data processing : Capture
The data is collected at the wearable via the various sensors. For example, bioimpedance sensors can measure the heartbeat or a GPS sensor can capture position data. Very often, the data is determined without “active” to do the user, for example, heart rate. The data is usually collected automatically and transmitted to the “evaluation device” (smartphone, notebook or to the cloud). So that an evaluation or linking of the data can take place afterwards. The following sensors are very often part of wearables:
- Optical sensor for measuring the heart rate
- GPS sensor for determining the location, for later calculation of the distance traveled and / or the speed
- Motion sensor for counting steps, sleep phases, etc.
- Temperature sensor for measuring the ambient temperature
By combining the data of the individual sensors conclusions can be drawn, which are presented to the user. Thus, for example, from the combination of the motion sensor and the temperature sensor, a derivative can be drawn on the quality of sleep. If a few movements are recorded and the temperature is 18 ° C, this is a pleasant sleep temperature for the user. If, however, many movements and a higher temperature are recorded, for example 21 ° C., this is not a pleasant sleep temperature and the user can use this information to lower the room temperature before going to sleep (for example by an air conditioning system) or the temperature through SmartHome. Automate components automatically.
Data processing : Transfer
The amount of data plays a not insignificant role in the transfer. In 2014, wearables caused 15 petabytes of traffic, and Cisco forecasts a data volume of 277 petabytes by 2019. Also, the number of devices will increase dramatically, says the same study by Cisco, that in 2014, 109 million devices and 2019 578 million devices will be connected. Of course, in addition to the amount of data, the transmission speed is also an important factor. There are currently several standards that have different levels of diffusion and transmission speed.
RFID – Radio Frequency Identification
It is a technology for identifying objects. The data acquisition takes place via radio transmission. The development of RFID technology began in the 60s. RFID systems have been used in the past mainly for theft prevention. The then high cost of the chips, however, the technology could not expand on other levels. Thanks to more cost-effective components and a massive investment in this technology, RFID systems can now be found in various areas such as ski passes, the textile industry and means of payment. An RFID system consists of 2 components:
- A transponder that is attached to an object.
- A read / write device for reading the transponder information
Components of a transponder are a chip and an antenna. There is a difference between active and passive transponders. Passive transponders do not have their own power supply and take the required energy from a transmission field during a read process. Due to the lack of energy supply, these transponders are equipped with non-volatile memory. By contrast, active transponders are equipped with a battery and can be coupled with additional sensor elements. The additional power supply allows more data to be stored and transmitted on these transponders. The transmission of data takes place over frequencies specified by ISO 1800. In production and logistics, RFID transponders are mounted on pallets or individual parts. The transponders pass through various readers on the way through the production and ensure a regulated workflows. In working life, RFID transponders are used in the form of chip cards. The smart cards record times, operate access systems or make payments in shopping mall.
In the health environment, RFID transponders are used for documentation purposes. Transponders equipped with temperature sensors are mounted on blood preserves and document the temperature profile. It is thus possible to check whether the cold chain has been maintained.
RFID transponders rely on their own communication protocols because they do not have a microcontroller installed for communication via Internet protocols. The task of transmitting information via the Internet is handled by the RFID reader. The reader acts as a gateway and transmits the data using TCP and HTTP protocols.
Bluetooth was developed in the late 1990’s to replace cable connections between peripherals such as headsets. Communication between Bluetooth devices takes place according to the master slave concept. When devices pair, they are combined into a piconet. The first device to build the piconet becomes the master and can contain up to 7 slave devices. The master has control over the piconet and is able to give the slave devices the right to send. Main applications of Bluetooth are:
- wireless connection between smartphone and devices
- Data exchange between terminals
- Connection of peripheral devices
Conclusion of Part II
This article has given an overview of the connectvity topics around wearables and the Internet of Things. In the next part, we will discuss around evaluation and potential application of Internet of Things.