“Wireless Sensor Network” (WSN) might be a known phrase to you and “Internet of Things” (IOT) might be a new one. However, according to my recent observations on several innovative ideas and inventions, I’ve become quite sure about the similarities and integration of these two terms in various contexts. I see no field of human life without these in upcoming years.
For example - Getting sms from your home refrigerator about buying milk for today’s meal or collaboration between your refrigerator with your neighbour’s one and letting you know that you can borrow urgently for today from them, getting serious and accurate weather report from a remote distance, Gathering information about any kind of extinction occurring on a forest without even going there frequently, Monitoring big size plant or setup that does deep searching and critical working to uptake natural resources like gas, oil etc. All these activities can be eventually must be handled by one of the most ultra safe and modern technology called Wireless Sensor Networks which is also related to Internet of Things.
My following analysis will firstly show the importance, benefits of WSNs and secondly will show the similarities with IOT.
Hope & Obstacles
Lets start with a serious sector- Mining natural resources like oil or gas. Researchers tell that there is a huge opportunity to get enough resources from several areas of our earth but can not be cost effective because of maintaining and monitoring hostile areas where targeting resources reside. For example, you can identify oil or gas in a certain area but you will have to invest more than enough money to be connected with a harsh environment like deep sea or such unusual place to complete your whole mining process. Cost for what? Yes, for setting up wire communication between that site with the main control area which may reside thousand miles far than the actual site. Also, maintaining such cable infrastructures can not only be non-efficient but also be costly. Also, putting human observers or workers for long time in such an area for just gathering information is not a great idea.
Well, I think you already guessed a solution of such problem by setting up Wireless Networks. You are just near the actual solution though. It should be Wireless Sensor Network. I mean, not only to transfer data from remote site to main control area but also to re-arrange all the data consuming tools or sensors of the site into another network fashion. In detail, all kinds of needed sensor devices will act as nodes and they will communicate among them with network protocol and the whole network will communicate with a main control panel with another kind of wireless communication interface such as a gateway. A medium size network of sensors can communicate with another network of sensors just like Local Area Network or Wide Area Network. Actually those nodes (sensors) can be arranged to work in a distributed system fashion. Thus, all nodes will be independent of resource sharing but dependent on information sharing among other nodes. In such scenario, whole communication can be done without wire with proper networking. Data can be transmit or receive over internet. This kind of network also opens a door for interfacing and crowd sourcing information. For example - there can be an** interface layer** using which other parties can connect, communicate and finally contribute data to the network. Just like providing power to a national grid system :) This features are already known as API in software field. Hardware/Network level API would be perfect in this case.
Though imagination of such an infrastructure seems so feasible and better, number of threats to these kinds of communication systems are also huge. Lets assume, all of our sensors are self dependent so that overall data transmission can be continued without interruption even after failures of few nodes and connected to other nodes with regular network protocols. Also network of networks are connected to a central data storage system over similar wireless network protocol. In this situation, if any of the nodes is compromised or hacked then that hacker can join the whole wireless network that can destroy the full arrangements or can access valuable data. On the other hand, such wireless protocols are suitable targets of distributed denial of services attackers which may cause severe damage of the setup and authority.
Optimisation of the Ideas
Considering few things can though make a Wireless Sensor Network more secured, scalable, reliable and isolate. I would like to mention one by one:
Fault Tolerant Computing - by which a node can survive with proper resource re-allocation in worst case.
Real Time Operating System - by which responding to a service is more important than efficiency and time complexity of the service.
Embedded Operating System - specially designed for specific hardware module, in this case the sensor devices. TinyOS, eCos, Robot OS are such promising examples.
Optimised Distributed Computing - by which a node will make sure that the destruction of it will not affect the network. Also, it will not expose information taking from other nodes to the compromiser source.
Self Powered and Manageable - If sensors or nodes become isolate, then their management should also be isolate. Sensors should be designed such a way that, they can be self manageable in worst situation and can be up and running for a certain period of time for example consuming nearby resource as its power source. Also, designing power efficient and least decorated hardware is important to be most cost effective.
If you can think all the things as a node of a big network then you will find the phrase Internet of Things more reasonable. I personally would like to think a Wireless Sensor Network as a upper layer of Internet of Things. Thats why I have entitled my blog post that way. Also, importance of WSNs along with IOT can be assumed clearly within few years when in one hand data transfer rate through wireless will be increased dramatically and on the other hand necessity of mining natural resources, gathering informations, predicting weather changes etc will be also increased dramatically.
Readings from: Wikipedia, Journals and Tech Magazines