The future of IoT Communication Protocols

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IoT enables communication of a large number of distributed devices without restrictions as to the type of their purpose, function performed, or physical dimensions.

And indeed, with the development of the Internet of Things more and more different types of devices—from personal computers, through sensors and actuators, to industrial systems—are using various connectivity methods to access the Internet. Being so diversified, devices use different communication methods to exchange messages. That’s where communication protocols come in handy. Let’s take a look at some of them.

  • WiFi
    When talking about IoT, it’s impossible to omit this probably the most popular wireless communication standard. WiFi technology is based on the IEEE 802.11 standard, with its first version published in 1997. Initially, WiFi was designed as a wireless replacement for the IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet) standard and has been successfully performing this function for a long time. For many years it has been present in all mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones and now virtually any venue offers free access to WiFi (they should, at least!). It is exactly this popularity that constitutes the main argument for using WiFi in IoT systems. The universality of this standard allows for using an already existing infrastructure, e.g. the user’s home network. However, the implementation of WiFi requires quite large memory resources and computing power and this type of communication also involves a significant consumption of electricity.
  • LwM2M
    While it’s hard to keep up with the constantly evolving IoT, LwM2M might be just the one standard that really improves at the same speed. Unlike WiFi, this standard is technically cut out for low-resource devices. What’s more, apart from being a communication protocol, it also defines an abstract layer—device management and service enablement. Lightweight M2M is also much younger, and with its rapid development to meet the ever-changing needs of the Internet of Things it truly might be the future of IoT communication protocols.
  • MQTT
    In telemetry systems, monitoring the operating parameters of your devices spread all over the country or the whole continent, or even the entire world is very important. Message Queuing Telemetry Transport is a communication standard designed exactly for this. Its popularity in IoT deployments is mainly due to its ease of use, low resource demand and communication link bandwidth. These features are very useful when you need to connect together an extensive network of objects or devices, distributed throughout a big area. MQTT significantly facilitates the preparation and subsequent maintenance of such a network, giving the opportunity to better manage devices and systems that work in it, which can translate into improved performance and thus reduce costs.
  • ZigBee
    ZigBee was intended to provide communication between various measuring instruments such as local sensor networks, meter systems, or monitoring devices. The ZigBee specification primarily includes simple network solutions to connect small devices with low power consumption.

The standard is very attractive energy-wise. Devices communicating via ZigBee are usually powered by batteries and often work in a standby mode. The transition to the active state occurs only when the collected information is transmitted or the data and software are updated. Due to the relatively low activity, devices can last several years without having to replace the battery.