CAN and the Internet of Things

To bring CAN nodes into the IoT world, we need to make them talking to other things.


Courtesy: Can in Automation (CiA)Everyone talks about the Internet of Things, abbreviated IoT. But the term is not used uniformly. The IoT concept is quite unclear, as if you look through a rain-spotted windshield. In order to bring CAN nodes into the IoT world, we need to make them talking to other Things.

Kevin Ashton invented the term Internet of Things (IoT). In a quote from an article in the RFID Journal 1999, he stated: "If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things - using data they gathered without any help from us - we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best."

This extends the definition of the first version of the Internet: It was all about data created by people. The IoT is about data created by things. Most of us think about being connected in terms of computers, tablets and smartphones. IoT describes a world where just about anything can be connected and is able to communicate to each other. In other words, with the IoT, the physical world is becoming one big information system.

Wikipedia defines IoT as an interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing like devices within the existing Internet infrastructure: "Typically, IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications. The interconnection of these embedded devices (including smart objects), is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields, while also enabling advanced applications like a Smart Grid."

Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, road vehicles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue. Current market examples include smart thermostats such as the nest and washer/dryers that utilize WiFi for remote monitoring (Source: Wikipedia).

Technopedia regards IoT as a computing concept that describes a future, in which everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices: "The term is closely identified with RFID as the method of communication, although it also may include other sensor technologies, wireless technologies or QR codes." In this understanding an object can represent itself digitally. It becomes something greater than the object by itself. No longer does the object relate just to you, but is now connected to surrounding objects and database data. When many objects act in unison, they are known as having "ambient intelligence."

This is known for more than 2000 years: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts" (Aristotle). Due to the ubiquitous nature of connected objects in the IoT, an unprecedented number of devices is expected to be connected to the Internet. According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the IoT by 2020. ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the IoT by 2020. Per a recent survey and study done by Pew Research Internet Project, a large majority of the technology experts and engaged Internet users who responded-83 percent-agreed with the notion that the IoT and embedded and wearable computing will have widespread and beneficial effects by 2025. It is, as such, clear that the IoT will consist of a very large number of devices being connected to the Internet. In 2008, the number of things connected to the Internet exceeded already the number of people on earth. Cisco forecasts 50 billion things by 2020. Imagine that all of these things can communicate and respond to one another assuming that they are related in some way. This concept is a challenge for all makers of things.

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