Internet of Things: Building Blocks & Architecture


Let's learn even more about this development now because we realize what the Internet of Things is (IoT).
The fundamental building blocks of technology are the most essential thing to know when thinking about technology. These essential things are discussed in this chapter. Let's start, then.


Four things form basic building blocks of the IoT system –sensors, processors, gateways, applications. Each of these nodes has to have its own characteristics in order to form a useful IoT system.
Figure 1: Simplified block diagram of the basic building blocks of the IoT
  • Theseform the front end of the IoT devices. These are the so-called“Things”of the system. Their main purpose is to collect data from its surroundings (sensors) or give out data to its surrounding (actuators).
  • Thesehave to be uniquely identifiable devices with a unique IP address sothat they can be easily identifiable over a large network.
  • Thesehave to be active in nature which means that they should be able tocollect real-time data. These can either work on their own (autonomousin nature) or can be made to work by the user depending on their needs(user-controlled).
  • Examples of sensors are gas sensors, water quality sensors, moisture sensors, etc.
  • Processorsare the brain of the IoT system. Their main function is to process the data captured by the sensors and process them so as to extract valuable data from the enormous amount of raw data collected. In a word,we can say that it gives intelligence to the data.
  • Processorsmostly work on a real-time basis and can be easily controlled by applications. These are also responsible for securing the data – that is performing encryption and decryption of data.
  • Embedded hardware devices, microcontrollers, etc are the ones that process the data because they have processors attached to it.
  • Gateways are responsible for routing the processed data and send them to proper locations for its (data) proper utilization.
  • In other words, we can say that gateway helps in and for communication of the data. It provides network connectivity to the data.Network connectivity is essential for any IoT system to communicate.
  • LAN, WAN, PAN, etc are examples of network gateways.
  • Applications form another end of an IoT system. Applications are essential for the proper utilization of all the data collected.
  • Thesecloud-based applications that are responsible for rendering the effective meaning to the data collected. Applications are controlled by users and are a delivery point of particular services.
  • Examples of applications are home automation apps, security systems, industrial control hubs, etc. 
In Figure 2, the extreme right block forms the application end of the IoT system.
Figure 2: Basic building blocks of IoT
In a nutshell, from the figure, we can determine that the information gathered by the sensing node (end node) is processed first then via connectivity reaches the embedded processing nodes that can be any embedded hardware devices and are processed there as well
It then passes through the connectivity nodes again and reaches the remote cloud-based processing that can be any software and is sent to the application node for the proper applied usage of the data collected and also for data analysis via big data.


People think that there is some rocket science behind the working of IoT, but is no rocket science. The working of IoT is quite simple.
The flow goes as follows:
First, it acquires information with respect to basic resources (names, addresses and so on) and related attributes of objects by means of automatic identification and perception technologies such as RFID, wireless sensor and satellite positioning, in other words, the sensors, RFID tags, and all other uniquely identifiable objects or "things" acquire real-time information (data) with the virtue of a central hub like smartphones.
Second, by virtue of many kinds of communications technologies, it integrates object-related information into the information network and realizes the intelligent indexing and integration of the information related to masses of objects by resorting to a fundamental resource services (similar to the resolution, addressing, and discovery of the internet).
Finally, utilizing intelligent computing technologies such as cloud computing, fuzzy recognition, data mining, and semantic analysis, it analyzes and processes the information related to masses of objects so as to eventually realize intelligent decision and control in the physical world.
To get a better understanding of what we discussed, let’s have a look at the following diagram.
Figure 3: Layers of the IoT
In the Physical layer, all the data collected by the access system (uniquely identifiable "things") collect data and go to the internet devices (like smartphones). Then via transmission lines (like fiber-optic cable), it goes to the management layer where all the data is managed separately (stream analytics and data analytics) from the raw data. Then all the managed information is released to the application layer for proper utilization of the data collected.


The architecture of the hardware involves the description and inter-relationship of the physical elements of a device. This description often referred to as a hardware design model, helps hardware designers to understand how its components fit system architecture and provide important information for software component designers to develop and integrate. Clearly identifying system design facilitates greater efficiency in the production of modern structures, tools, and parts in the varied fields of conventional engineering (e.g., electrical and mechanical engineering).
IoT architecture has four major layers.
Figure 4: IoT architecture layers
At the very bottom of IoT architecture, we start with the Sensors and Connectivity network which collects information. Then we have the Gateway and Network Layer. Above which we have the Management Service layer and then at the end, we have the application layer where the data collected are processed according to the needs of various applications.
Let’s discuss the features of each of these architectural layers separately.
Sensor, Connectivity and Network Layer
  • This layer consists of RFID tags, sensors (which are an essential part of anIoT system and are responsible for collecting raw data). These form the essential “things” of an IoT system.
  • Sensors, RFID tags are wireless devices and form the Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN).
  • Sensors are active in nature which means that real-time information is to be collected and processed.
  • This layer also has network connectivity (like WAN, PAN, etc.) which isresponsible for communicating the raw data to the next layer which isthe Gateway and Network Layer.
  • The devices which are comprisedof WSN have finite storage capacity, restricted communication bandwidthand have a small processing speed.
  • We have different sensors fordifferent applications – temperature sensor for collecting temperaturedata, water quality for examining water quality, moisture sensor formeasuring the moisture content of the atmosphere or soil, etc.
As per the figure below, at the bottom of this layer, we have the tags which are the RFID tags or barcode reader, above which we have the sensors/actuators and then the communication networks.
Figure 5: Sensor, Connectivity and Network Layer
Gateway and Network Layer
  • Gateways are responsible for routing the data coming from the Sensor, Connectivity, and Network layer and pass it to the next layer which is the Management Service Layer.
  • Thislayer requires having a large storage capacity for storing the enormousamount of data collected by the sensors, RFID tags, etc. Also, thislayer needs to have a consistently trusted performance in terms ofpublic, private, and hybrid networks.
  • Different IoT device works on different kinds of network protocols. All these protocols are required to be assimilated into asingle layer. This layer is responsible for integrating various network protocols.
From the figure below, at the bottom, we have the gateway which is comprised of the embedded OS, Signal Processors, and Modulators, Micro-Controllers etc. Above the gateway we have the Gateway Networks which are LAN(Local Area Network), WAN(Wide Area Network), etc?
Figure 6: Gateway and Network Layer
Management Service Layer
  • Thislayer is used for managing IoT services. The management Service layeris responsible for Securing Analysis of IoT devices, Analysis ofInformation (Stream Analytics, Data Analytics), Device Management.
  • Datamanagement is required to extract the necessary information from thean enormous amount of raw data collected by the sensor devices to yield aa valuable result of all the data collected. This action is performed inthis layer.
  • Also, a certain situation requires an immediate response to the situation. This layer helps in doing that by abstracting data,extracting information, and managing the data flow.
  • This layer is also responsible for data mining, text mining, service analytics, etc.
From the figure below, we can see that, management service layer has Operational Support Service (OSS) which includes Device Modeling, Device Configuration and Management and many more. Also, we have the Billing Support System (BSS) which supports billing and reporting.
Also, from the figure, we can see that there are IoT/M2M Application Services which includes Analytics Platform; Data – which is the most important part; Security which includes Access Controls, Encryption, Identity Access Management, etc. ; and then we have the Business Rule Management (BRM) and Business Process Management (BPM).
Figure 7: Management Service Layer
Application Layer
  • Applicationlayer forms the topmost layer of IoT architecture which is responsiblefor the effective utilization of the data collected.
  • Various IoT applications include Home Automation, E-health, E-Government, etc.
  • Fromthe figure below, we can see that there are two types of applicationswhich are Horizontal Market which includes Fleet Management, SupplyChain, etc. and on the Sector-wise application of IoT we have energy,healthcare, transportation, etc. 
Figure 8: Application Layer
Smart Environment Application Domains
Figure 9: Smart Environment Application Domains
  • WLAN stands for Wireless Local Area Network which includes Wi-Fi, WAVE, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/p/n/ac/ad, and so on
  • WPAN stands for Wireless Personal Area Network which includes Bluetooth, ZigBee, 6LoWPAN, IEEE 802.15.4, UWB, and so on.
Figure 10: Smart Environment Application Domains: Service Domain and their Services classified.
That is all for this chapter. I hope you enjoyed reading it!
Sukanya Mandal
1277 978 602.6k
Next » Internet of Things: Devices and Technologies