Sensors are the key components for enabling any IoT Application. The concept of IoT came as early as 1990 but the practical implementations of the IoT technology is actually becoming possible as the cost of the devices that are needed to create any IoT application have reduced. Sensors are one of the major hardware components needed to form IoT systems and decrease in its price has given a forward leap in developing IoT applications. Sensors have to be uniquely identifiable devices with a unique device ip address so that they can be easily identifiable over a large network. These have to be active in nature which means that they should be able to collect real time data. These can either work on their own (autonomous in nature) or can be made to work by the user depending on their needs (user controlled).
Sensors are the devices that have capability to sense the real time data and convert that data into the machine understandable codes. Sensor can also be defined as a physical object that receives a change in the environment and responds to that change with an electrical signal output. A number of specific purposes of sensors are available, such as measuring temperature, humidity, vibrations, motion, light, pressure, altitude and colour. Interfacing of sensor with the microcontrollers is quite easy and combination of both creates a smart sensor. The growth and cost cut of the smart sensors is already increasing their implementation in IoT applications.
Some Common Examples of Sensors are:
- LDR – Light sensor
- DHT11- Temperature Sensor
- HCSR501-Motion Sensor
- HCSR04- Distance Sensor
- Galvanometer : Current Sensor
- MAX44005 : Colour and Infrared Proximity Sensor
Sensors in IoT Applications
Sensors are used in almost all the IoT applications. Any IoT application needs things which can react to any real time data, some hardware to communicate with the sensed data and process it further and some communication modules and gateways that can connect to internet over fixed and wireless networks and some nodes for data collection, sharing and storage. The first thing that comes in implementation of IoT application chain are the smart sensors (embedded with microcontrollers) that are foundation for developing any IoT technology.
Take any IoT application like Home automation, Transportation, Retail & Logistics, Health care, Industrial, Agricultural or Environmental. All of these need sensors for real time access of data.
Fig: Sensors and devices associated with IoT applications
Building Automation: In building automation there will be Smart lighting, Smart waste management, Smart devices detector, Remote control of appliances, Energy & Water use systems and Smart parking etc facilities. And each application requires specific type of sensors. For example ultrasonic sensor for smart parking, light sensors for the smart lighting, temperature sensor for temperature monitoring in the rooms and PIR sensor for smart waste management etc.
Healthcare: In health care applications like Patients Surveillance for monitoring conditions of patients inside the hospital , Smart fall detector for assisting elderly &disabled , Smart wearables for monitoring blood pressure and sugar level . Biosensors, motion sensors, light sensors & ultrasonic sensors etc are needed in healthcare applications.
Agriculture: Smart agriculture includes features like crop farming management, Soil moisture level detection for utilization of water resources, Green house management to control micro-climate for maximization of agricultural production etc. Soil moisture, PH sensor & temperature sensor are commonly needed in smart agriculture.
There is more number of IoT applications in fields like transportation, retail and logistics, infrastructure, wearables, industrial, environment, security etc and every application require some type of sensors.
As far as IoT is concerned the role of sensors is very important in its all applications. In fact I say that sensors are the hosts of the “internet of things,” they are on-the-ground pieces of hardware doing the critical work of real time data sensing, monitoring processes, interfacing and taking computation.
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