May 27, 2021

What is IoT in simple words?

Alexis Leibbrandt

This article covers everything you need to know about IoT: what it is, how it works, and what are the smart use cases built with IoT.

IoT stands for the “Internet of Things”

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes a network of interconnected physical objects (“things”) to the internet or/and to each other, which are able to collect and transfer data over a network without human intervention.

The purpose of this is for the devices to communicate with each other, collecting, sharing, sending and applying the data, analyzing behaviors and optimizing the use of the environment they’re set in.

The use of IoT technologies has created endless possibilities. A ‘thing’ can refer to any sensor or physical device that can convert analog signals into digital data. The option of digital retrofitting is becoming increasingly popular, offering the opportunity of upgrading old systems with IoT. The motivation for the use of IoT in business is usually in connection with reducing costs, visualizing usage patterns and habits, automating processes and effectively adapting to the changing business environment. This is why the words such as ‘optimizing’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘smart’ are often found in connection to this topic.

The 4 IoT architecture components

1. Physical devices and controllers

The ‘things’ in IoT. This is also known as the ‘perception layer’, where analog signals are converted into digital data and vice versa. There are three subcategories:

- Sensors: these collect physical parameters.
- Actuators: translate digital signals into physical actions.
- Machines and devices: forming an integral part of industrial machinery.

2. Connectivity layer

This is the layer or ‘communication’ across the devices, network and the cloud. In akenza’s case, this layer works with a Data Gateway, which works as a translator between the different protocols of the hardware and software, allowing for the encryption and decryption of IoT data.

The communications involve different network connectivities. These technologies usually differ in their power consumption, bandwidth capabilities and latency characteristics. To read more about the IoT connectivity landscape and examples of use cases, click here.

Last but not least, once the individual parts are connected to the network, they use messaging protocols to share the data across the networks. These could be understood as the ‘packaging of the message’. In akenza’s case those are:

HTTPS - This a document centric, authentication and security protocol widely implemented in browser and web services. It works based on a request-response protocol for client-server computing, optimized for mobile devices.

- This is a data-centric, lightweight messaging protocol built on top of TCP/IP stack for centralized data collection from low-powered devices.

CoAP - This is a special internet application protocol that enables devices to communicate with each other and between ‘nodes’ to communicate with the wider network using similar protocols. CoAP is also being used via other mechanisms, such as SMS on mobile communication networks.

3. Processing layer

During this step, raw data is made useful by accumulating, storing, and processing.

The data accumulation occurs through an API, which defines whether data is relevant to the business requirements and where it should be placed. The final goal is to sort out a large amount of diverse data and store it in the most efficient way.

Together, the data accumulation and abstraction stages veil details of the hardware, enhancing the interoperability of smart devices.

4. Application layer

The application varies between complexity and function, using different technology stacks and operating systems. Some examples are:

- Device monitoring and control software
- Mobile apps for simple interactions
- Business intelligent services
- Analytic solutions using machine learning

This layer can be connected to any application through the akenza platform. This offers a software development infrastructure with read-to-use instruments for data mining, advanced analytics, and data visualization.

The benefits of IoT?

An IoT system enables devices to interact, collaborate, and learn from each other's experiences, enabling machine learning and artificial intelligence. What benefits can this technology bring to the end consumer?

- Cost reduction
- Efficiency and productivity
- Business opportunities
- Improved customer experience
- Mobility and agility

One of the biggest benefits of IoT is that it allows an insight into data that projects habits, allowing to influence behavior based on that data, and propelling change.

Examples of IoT technology

Here you can find a list of cases and projects based on IoT:

How IoT is revolutionizing the cleaning industry: the case of soobr Ltd.

Soobr Ltd.
(/ ‘suber’ = clean in Swiss dialect) optimizes the planning and execution of cleaning tours based on data and artificial intelligence.

Service button: solve problems at the push of a button

Small mandates such as an empty ink cartridge or an unorganized meeting room, cost the ISS Customer Service Desk between 10-20 minutes per case. To relieve the work pressure, the ISS Digital Transformation team, together with the project leader Roger Gygli developed a simple, yet very efficient solution. A service button. Within seconds, the push of a button triggers a notification, reaching the responsible person who provides the service in demand. The system behind it: the akenza platform.

IoT solution for people flow supports retail & smart city

Looking for a solution with state-of-the-art technology to streamline people flow and traffic in your business space, exit and entry points? Currently, retailers including supermarkets and banks have a challenge that is quite new to them: How to make sure there aren’t too many people in their facility at the same time. IoT solutions that implement automatic people traffic and flow measures are the easiest, quickest and safest way to solve this challenge without additional manpower. They measure the number of people in a store - already at the entrance.

Optimized logistics in glass recycling through smart waste solution

By attaching sensors with low energy consumption and long service life to the waste containers, it is possible to centrally monitor and predict the container's filling level. This enables improved planning of disposal tours and thus increases the efficiency of waste management.

Need help with your IoT project?

To learn more about how akenza can help you build smart solutions with ease, contact us or directly sign up for a free trial today.


If you want to follow the latest updates and upcoming features of akenza in real-time, be sure to check our changelog.