Tag Archives: Internet

Difference Between IoT and Embedded Systems

Today, we are accustomed to using many IoT or Internet of Things and embedded systems every day. But just a decade ago, very few people had smartphones. Innovations and technological advancements have changed that—ushering in an era of the smart revolution almost globally. With the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the revolutionary use of IoT equipment, several million devices link to the internet and cloud services. We can easily connect to the world around us, mainly due to IoT connectivity along with the evolution of regular gadgets. Many new equipment and devices now come inbuilt with IoT technologies, and these include not only personal fitness devices, but also kitchen items, home heating systems, and medical equipment.

Embedded systems typically comprise a small computer integrated into a mechanical or electrical system. Some examples of such devices include electric bikes, washing machines, home internet routers, and heart monitors. Each of these devices comes with an inbuilt computer that serves a specific purpose. Forming the brain of the device, the computers may have one or more microprocessors. For instance, a smartphone consists of many embedded systems interconnected to function simultaneously. So far, embedded systems hardly ever connect to larger networks such as the Internet. Most still use antiquated connection standards such as the RS-232 to interconnect to other embedded systems. These protocols are usually plagued with bandwidth and speed constraints. In comparison, modern communication protocol standards for embedded systems are much faster and support higher bandwidth. Many also support wireless connectivity. All in all, modern embedded systems are more sophisticated than before.

IoT devices, on the other hand, are rather pieces of hardware. They can be machines, appliances, gadgets, actuators, or sensors. Their main function is to transfer data over networks such as the Internet. The design of most IoT devices allows them to be useful for specific purposes. It is possible to integrate IoT devices into various appliances, including industrial machinery, medical equipment, environmental sensors, and mobile systems. There are IoT embedded systems also, and they are embedded systems that connect to the internet or other networks like home networks. Most are capable of carrying out tasks beyond the capabilities of the individual system. Connectivity allows them to perform functions that were not possible earlier.

Sensors effectively behave as the Internet of Things or IoT devices when they can transmit data over networks, including the Internet. It is possible for an embedded system to be enhanced with IoT capabilities by incorporating an IoT module. The basic IoT ecosystem roots still rely heavily on embedded systems. It is possible to gauge the importance of embedded systems within the IoT realm by the fact that embedded systems support much of the functionality of IoT devices.

Although a network, such as the Internet, is a necessary medium for transmitting data to and from IoT devices to their cloud services, embedded systems help in the actual collection, rationalization, interpretation, and transmission of the data from the sensor. Embedded systems also help interface the data with online services, smartphone applications, and nearby computers. In this chain, the numerous sensors that actually collect real-world data, remain the most important link.

Solar Powered Drone Beams Internet

Certain regions of the Earth are presently out of the ambit of the Internet. Nearly 10% of the population or more than 4 billion people live so far from fiber optic cables or cell towers that they are unable to reach the Internet. Facebook is set to end this isolation by having a drone fly overhead while beaming Internet down to such areas.

At their Connectivity Lab, which is a division of Facebook’s Internet.org, researchers confirm the completion of such a drone. This is the first step Facebook is taking before it builds a larger fleet. They have not yet flown the craft, but Facebook has already been testing their concept over the UK with versions one-tenth the size. They intend to conduct flight tests of the full-size drone before the end of this year.

Facebook will be using the solar-powered V-shaped carbon fiber craft, named Aquila or Eagle (in Latin), for beaming down wireless Internet connectivity to expand Internet access. About a year ago, Facebook launched Internet.org. Although their intentions were to provide Internet access to those in the world who do not have a reliable connection, the project has received a lot of dissension for not adhering to net neutrality – especially in India.

Facebook has designed and built Aquila in 14 months. The drone will fly in the air for 90 days without touchdown. To launch it up into the air initially, technicians will be attaching Helium balloons to the plane.

With a wingspan of 46 yards or 42 meters, Aquila has to move constantly to stay aloft. Therefore, it will circle a three-km or two-mile radius. During the day, when the craft can generate energy from the sun, it will float up to 90-thousand feet or 30 Km. However, the craft drifts down to 60-thousand feet or 20 Km at night for conserving energy. While not planning to sell the drones at present, Facebook intends to use them for expanding Internet access.

The research team has been able to increase the data capacity of the lasers involved in the project. This is one of the biggest breakthroughs as the new system can communicate at speeds of 10 GB per second using a ground-based laser to talk to the dome on the underbelly of the plane. This is about 10 times faster than the current capabilities allow.

Facebook is not alone in their endeavors to bring wireless Internet to rural regions. Rivals Google also have a program up their sleeve – Project Loon. They plan to put up high-altitude Helium balloons with transmitters attached. Although Google has not launched their project yet, they claim it is in a more advanced stage compared to where Aquila is at present.

Therefore, very soon, you may see a huge 900 lb. drone nearly the size of a Boeing 737, slowly circling 11 miles up in the sky. Currently, Facebook’s mission is mired in controversy. All over the world, critics are questioning several practices of Facebook’s Internet.org on security, fairness and privacy grounds. There is a danger countries may spy on and repress their citizens. In addition, first-time users of the Internet might be limited to what Facebook provides them as news and information.

What is a Broadband Internet Connection?

To access the internet from homes, offices or mobile devices, internet services are necessary. This is offered in mainly four different forms – Digital Subscriber Line or DSL, cable, fiber-optic and satellite. All the above are commonly known as broadband services since they provide high access speeds compared to the old dial-up connection, which is the only non-broadband service. Although this is the cheapest way of connecting to the Internet, most users prefer faster connections such as provided by a broadband Internet connection.

The DSL connection makes use of unutilized telephone wires to provide Internet service. The speed of the connection varies with the distance of the user from the switching station – the speed will be slower the further away the user is.

A local provider of cable TV provides broadband Internet services through cable. Here, there will be several subscribers on a single service, sharing the bandwidth. The speed will vary with the number of users on the service at any specific time – decreasing as the number of connected users goes up. The speed is usually at its lowest at peak times, for example in the late evenings when many people will access the internet after the day’s work is over.

Fiber optics provides the fastest Internet connection and is the latest method. Since it is one of the newest methods, service areas are limited. In addition, laying fiber-optic cables under the ground is a time-taking task. Although the cost is comparable to that of both DSL and cable, the service provided by the fiber-cable is of a much faster connection.

Satellite services are one of the slowest forms of Internet connection and the most expensive. They are also notoriously complicated to set up and use. However, for people living in remote rural areas, a satellite broadband Internet service may be the only means of communication possible.

Broadband Internet services provide several advantages over more conventional means of accessing the Internet. DSL and cable connections are very easy to obtain and connect with the computer. The high speeds enable users to multitask while working on the Internet. For example, it is possible to surf the net while listening to music over the web.

At home as well as in the office, networking of several computers is made easier with a shared broadband connection. Both wireless as well as wired modems are available for this purpose.

Another trend recently introduced is the mobile broadband service. The modem offered is typically in the shape of a USB stick, only larger. It comprises a wireless device and a socket for the SIM card. When connected to the computer and supplied with the username and password, the wireless device searches for and connects to the transmissions of the service provider. Nowadays, with newer devices in the 4G or fourth generation, very high speeds are achievable.

One of the main advantages of broadband services is that it will not keep your phone lines engaged while you are surfing. This was the case with the old dial-up type of Internet service, where the user would not be able to make or receive telephone calls while connected to the Internet.

How Does Wireless Broadband Work?

High-speed Internet access is a necessity nowadays, and people are not satisfied with the slow dial-up access. Different forms of broadband Internet services are available that provide high-speed access. Access speed is usually measured by bit rate, which is the number of bits processed per unit of time. You are using a broadband Internet service if your data speed is or above 256 kbps (kilobits per second). Typical speed figures for broadband downloads can range from 1.5Mbps to 159Gbps. Therefore, broadband is an evolution over the original high-speed internet service, ISDN or Integrated Services Digital Network.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, there is increasing need for mobile broadband services that do not restrict movement with cables and telephone lines. This requirement has brought forth another contender – the wireless broadband Internet service. As its name suggests, you have high-speed access to the Internet without any cable or wires trailing your device. Consumers are increasingly demanding wireless Internet service, as they perceive its versatility and its potential for improving their productivity.

Wireless broadband service is available increasingly at home, in offices and even at the local groceries or coffee shop. Service providers are offering packaged Internet service deals that users can access wirelessly from any location within the coverage area of the service.

You generally connect to a wireless broadband Internet service through a wireless network. Setting up this arrangement of a broadband wireless network in your home or office requires several pieces of equipment – a wireless transceiver and a wireless router – all a one-time expenditure. In addition, you need to invest in a continual expenditure in the form of a broadband service. Without this broadband service, your broadband tools will not work.

The wireless devices and the broadband internet service together make up your wireless broadband network. When deployed, the network will transmit data from your broadband Internet connection via these wireless tools using a special wireless technology called Wi-Fi. Only Wi-Fi enabled devices will be able to connect to the Internet from anywhere inside the coverage area defined by the location of your wireless router.

Although Wireless broadband Internet service is popular and is increasingly being used in homes and offices, there is another wireless technology gaining ground – Wireless Internet service. With wireless broadband Internet service, you have a package deal that involves the broadband service that you have to subscribe to and the hardware for the wireless technology. On the other hand, wireless Internet service is intended for use in a much larger location outside the home or office, such as a college campus or the downtown area of a city.

The growth of cell phones has increased the popularity of wireless Internet connectivity. Cell phones now feature several mobile applications designed with advanced wireless technology. Therefore, mobile devices can now connect to a wireless broadband internet service via Wi-Fi or directly to the Internet via their own cellular phone networks.

GSM or Global Systems Mobile has introduced a technology for improving mobile connectivity – EDGE. Likewise, their competitor CDMA has introduced EVDO, which is significantly faster than EDGE. Another upcoming technology in this field is the WiMAX, which is expected to provide speeds in excess of 40Mbps by the end of next year.

What Is The Future Of The Internet?

Brazil and NET1 organized a major conference called NETmundial on April 23-24, 2014. Representatives of the tech community, civil society and governments convened to discuss the future of the Internet. Their focus was on how the Internet should be governed.

The necessity for the event was multiple revelations, such as from Edward Snowden, about mass surveillance of digital communications by state agencies. As the President of Brazil stated at the 68th UN General Assembly, the absence of right to privacy takes away the true freedom of expression and opinion, destroying effective democracy.

That set the ball rolling for the Internet governance institutions, which include ICANN or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, IRTF or the Internet Engineering Task Force and the W3C or the World Wide Web Consortium. Together, they released a joint statement renouncing activities of mass surveillance. They referred to the recent revelations of pervasive surveillance and monitoring, expressing strong concerns over the undermining of the confidence and trust of Internet users globally. They identified the need to keep up the efforts for addressing Internet Governance challenges, while agreeing to support community-wide efforts actively towards the development of a global multi-stakeholder Internet cooperation.

In reality, the Internet runs as an MSM or a multi-stakeholder model. Here, the tech community, civil society groups, governments and the private sector all have their say. However, it is old news that different parties want to have a greater power over the Internet. In this respect, the US, which has a historically grown role of dominance in Internet governance, is envied not only by other nations, but also by the Internet libertarians.

Every few years or so, the battle over Internet governance raises its head. The last time this happened was in the 2012 conference of the UN International Telecommunication Union. Although many non-western nations attempted to delegate more influence to governments, the US and its European allies successfully warded off the demands for Internet governance changes.

However, this time, because of the NSA scandal, the US has lost much of its legitimacy of dominance over Internet governance. Moreover, most of those who allied with the US in 2012 now have their own reasons in demanding globalization of Internet governance.

The Global Multi-stakeholder Conference or NETmundial has two goals to achieve. The first is to produce universal principals that will govern the Internet. The second is to generate a roadmap that will lead to the globalization of Internet governance institutions such as ICANN.

The conference will generate an outcome document to bring forth the conclusions and decision made on the summit. The draft outcome document disseminated prior to the start of the summit, allowed those gathered at the summit to propose changes to the document, aiming to create the final version that all have agreed on.

However, the first day of the summit saw civil society organizations issue a press release expressing their concern over the weaknesses in the draft document. Organizations such as the Free Press, World Wide Web Foundation and Article 19 are proposing a number of amendments, which include:

• Interception and surveillance must be done in accordance with international human rights law
• The right to privacy must be reinforced by stronger actions
• The globalization of ICANN should follow a clear roadmap and be completed by September 2015.

Get ready to talk to your gadgets

Google has many things always in the development stages so that they will remain at the forefront of action for internet users and smart phone users. Expectations are high that gadgets in the future will have voice-interface so that users can command different devices verbally. Talking to gadgets will be possible and Google is making sure that it is a part of such breathtaking developments. Smartphones will be the mode for talking to these gadgets and Google is gearing up to provide the necessary tools for the user for home activity from any location. The recent takeover of Nest Labs, which makes smoke detectors and thermostat controllers, by Google at an estimated deal of $3.2 billion, is thought to be precisely for that purpose.

Speaking to kitchen gadgets is likely to become a reality in the near future. The process is known as the “Internet of Things” and is likely to be in the thick of daily routine activities. When launched, it will totally change the nature of human activity at home and will enhance the popularity of the smartphone. According to the research company Gartner, Inc., the Internet is likely to be linked to more than 26 million objects suitable for verbal command and interface. Additionally, connectivity to PC, smartphones and tablets will substantially add to this figure. Tony Fadell is the founder of Nest Labs, and he is an Apple veteran who assisted in designing the iPhone and the iPod.

According to Forrester Research analyst, Frank Gillett, the reason Google bought Nest is “to learn about this world where even more information is going to be accessible by computers.” Nest has already been successful in offering thermostats to users for controlling the cooling and heating of devices at home. Nest, in the last few years, sold their products in the USA, Canada and the UK; it has been well received.

Google has not made any disclosures about the type of activity lined up for Nest for the immediate future. Angela McIntyre, the Gartner analyst, believes that, “They need to gather as much information as they can to understand the context in how we live our lives”, in order to take over all the activities which are routine and have no need for physical presence at home to perform it. It is likely that the mapping software from Google could be utilized to map out the home layout. This will be essential for delegating tasks to a robot if employed at home. It could also lead to navigation of the entire home from a remote place by a smartphone.

Although, at present, it is known that Google’s main source of revenue is from advertising and search requests, there is no doubt that the acquisition of Nest Labs is in the direction of involving with people’s personal activities in a more significant manner without in any way sacrificing their privacy. On the whole, Google could be of assistance with these new tools for people not at home to perform activities through the internet and smart phones even from remote places.