Popular Internet of Things Protocols for Connected Devices

Internet of Things has emerged from an abstract idea into a reality within a small duration. It covers a wide range of real-time use cases across various business verticals in a simple and manageable way. IoT devices are popularly known as smart devices for a reason, where they provide an instant device to device communication.

To get the most out of the Internet of things, embed smarter innovative technologies in hardware as well as software. IoT standards and protocolshelp connected devices to communicate and perform complex tasks easily. It reduces any human dependencies thereby increasing the company’s productivity.

Role of a Protocol in the Internet of Things

“Protocols in IoT devices are the foundation of any digital communication

Protocols, like any language, is a way of communication between two devices. Protocols, a set of standards or rules which helps to interact with the other devices in a meaningful way.

For instance, a Mac can upload a web page from the Windows-based web server using a standard web protocol. Thus, using the same protocol any two hardware devices can communicate with each other irrespective of the device type.

Most Popular IoT Protocols that serves millions of business worldwide

Though there is an N number of protocols in the market today, these protocols evolve constantly as per the business needs. Here is a  comprehensive list of protocols that are mostly used in developing loT solutions across various industries.

TCP

The transmission control protocol is the basic internet protocol.  This allows an easy and workable device communication over the Internet.

TCP is grouped under the Transport Layer as it is responsible to create and maintain the communication between the client and server system over a network.

 UDP

The User Datagram Protocol helps in Video & Audio streaming functions. Establishes low-latency which enables process-process communication in faster processing speed providing greatest performance. UDP protocol does not stop the playback completely. Instead, pauses for a moment and continues with the next workflow.

For example, “skip-ads” use these protocols, skipping the ad part alone without impacting the original video.

CoAP

Small devices like sensors or any smart devices termed as a “constrained node” in any network. In the current market, constrained devices come in various size and shape. Some of the examples are home sensors, personal gadgets and other machine-machine (M2M) devices. These devices depend upon the internet connectivity for the device to device communication.

Hence a unique web transfer protocol, Constrained Application Protocol(CoAP) is created to address the constrained nodes in the constrained IoT networks.

HL7

Established in 1987, HL7, Health Level 7 protocol is an international standard for health care sectors worldwide. HL7 provides a digital data exchange or retrieves the required healthcare information, in a simplified way.

Some of the important facts of HL7 protocol are,

  • The numeric ‘7’ in the HL7 denotes the seventh layer in the OSI model ie., the application level.
  • HL7 provides a set of standards or guidelines that helps with the healthcare industry’s interoperability challenges. With the help of these HL7 protocols, effectively communicate and exchange the hospital data.
  • One of the new HL7’s standards, Fast HealthCare Interoperability Resource (FHIR), is the next “API standard” framework.
  • FHIR, an interoperability standard, exchange the healthcare information effectively between the organization.

J1939

J1939, a standard from Society of Automotive Engineers(SAE), for fleet management systems. Because the transportation sector is one of the fastest growing IoT real-time applications.

Here are some of the key factors of J1939,

  • It supports broadcast communication and facilitates seamless peer-peer interactions.
  • J1939 is the Higher-Layer protocol based on the Controller Area Network. CAN is in the physical layer, a two-wire high-speed network system. One of the main functions is to embed communication system for intelligent devices.
  • But the limitation of CAN is, it supports at the most only 8 bytes per message frame. Thus, an extra software layer designed over the CAN physical layer ie., J1939, that supports unlimited message length.

Thus, J1939 makes heavy-duty vehicle communication possible. Such as agricultural trucks, construction buses and so on.

MQTT

Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT), is an ISO standard protocol present on top of the TCP/IP protocol in the OSI layer. It has a light-weight design, publish-subscribe model messaging protocol.

An MQTT works in four stages;

  • Connection: First the client initiates a TCP/IP connection.
  • Authentication: To authenticate the server, the client validates their certification.
  • Communication: Client can subscribe, unsubscribe, publish or ping functions.
  • Termination: To end an MQTT session, it sends a DISCONNECT message to the broker. Then, the connection stops.

There are various business verticals that use MQTT. Like Transportation, Logistics, Healthcare sector, security and Surveillance systems. 

AMQP

Advanced Messaging Queuing protocol, is an open standard application layer protocol. It facilitates easy business communications through asynchronous messages.

AMQP workflow consists of the following components,

  • Register a Queue – The consumer will register a queue with a dynamic name.
  • Exchange – Gets the data and puts them in the queue.
  • Encrypt the data – Data Encryption takes place using symmetric encryption.
  • Publish – In this stage, it publishes all the messages/data in the queue. 

ZigBee

ZigBee 3.0, is the open global standard of IoT protocol. Designed to provide an ultra-low power wireless network. ZigBee gives device-device interoperability for several vendor eco-systems.

Dot dot, a ZigBee Alliance launched the universal language for the internet of things. Deployed in over 300 million products so far. It makes smart objects to communicate and work together in a hassle-free way.

ZigBee has three device types.,

  • Coordinator
  • Router
  • End-Device

LoRaWAN

Long Range Wide Area Network, as the name defines has a wireless range of a large area network. Smart cities are one of the apt use cases for LoRWAN protocol, which utilizes least battery. It helps to connect millions of low power devices.

LoRaWAN has the ability to transfer the sensor data as well as alter the behaviour of the sensor. These are useful for uplink and downlink messages.

LoRaWAN has three different classes,

  • Class A – This is the default device class and is always initiated by the end device. It uses battery-powered sensor devices.
  • Class B – On a periodic basis, Class B synchronizes with a network beacon.
  • Class C – Provides low latency, bi-directional end-devices. It constantly listens between uplink messages. This drains down the battery fast and thus makes a class C device to be mains powered always.

Sigfox

Sigfox, a software-based technology offers a one of a kind IoT communication model. Here, the cloud takes care of all the networking activity and the computing complexity.

Several benefits in using Sigfox are,

  • Ultra Narrow Band radio modulation
  • Lightweight protocol
  • Long battery life
  • Low connectivity and low device cost
  • High network capacity that covers a wider range

NFC

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range radio frequency communication protocol. NFC based on the ISO Radio Frequency Identification standard. NFC, a bi-directional communication protocol, works both in the active & passive mode.

NFC network has two devices,

  • Initiator device – First this device listens & then transmits the data, only if there is no other signal present on the channel.
  • Target device – The target device receives the message from the initiator device and responds accordingly.

These have NFC tags which can be either in active-active mode or active-passive mode. A few examples of NFC based smartphones are iPhone7, LG G6, Samsung Galaxy S8.

Conclusion

Internet of things along with these protocols provide a robust modelled smart connected devices. These IoT protocols ensure the data transmission is sent over a secure connection. IoT solution providers build smart real-time applications using several IoT standards and protocols. Choose the IoT protocol as per your business requirements and get benefitted from its several advantages.