Internet of Things Key Terms, Explained

This post will define 12 Key Terms for the Internet of Things, in straightforward manner.

1. Internet of Things (IoT)

The concept to allow internet based communications to happen between physical objects, sensors, and controllers.

2. 6LoWPAN

An acronym that combines the latest version of the Internet Protocol (IPv6) and Low-power Wireless Personal Area Networks (LowPAN). This concept allows for the smallest devices with limited processing ability to transmit information with a battery life that lasts for years.

3. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

The specification for encryption of electronic data established in 2001. Operates on a public/private key system, and planning for key management is an important aspect when implementing AES encryption.

4. Application Programming Interface (API)

A way for computers to talk to hardware or software platforms in a less complicated way. Third parties use other company’s API platforms as a point of integration.

5. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Also known as Bluetooth 4.0, this is a wireless, personal-area network with short range and low power consumption that allows for objects to transmit data. This is the “next generation” of Bluetooth that solves many of the pairing and performance headaches from earlier Bluetooth.

6. Embedded Software

Instruction code that runs on hardware microcontrollers. Usually it is performing specific low-level functions, often without using an operating system.

7. Gateway

A point on a network that receives information from many other points on the network and transmits information to another network. The router for your home internet is one type of gateway.

8. General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)

A wireless communications standard on 2G and 3G cellular networks which supports a number of bandwidths and provides data rates of 56-114 kbps. As cellular companies move to more advanced networks, GPRS networks may be more cost-effective for IoT networks.

9. Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) Band

An unlicensed part of the RF spectrum used for general purpose data communications. In the US, the ISM bands are 915MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5.5 GHz, whereas 2.4 GHz is the global unlicensed frequency, and has increasing amounts of interference.

10. Link Budget

An accounting of all of the losses in a wireless communication system. In order to “close the link” enough RF energy has to make it from the transmitter to the receiver.

11. Machine to Machine (M2M)

A broad term that describes technology that allows for one connected device to communicate and exchange information with another connected device, without the assistance of a human.

12. Media Access Control (MAC)

The “layer 2” in a network that allows the physical medium (radio waves or wire signals) to be organized to pass data back and forth. For low-rate data wireless applications, the MAC has many implications on performance.