Internet of things

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The internet of things

The Internet of Things ( IoT ) (also: " Allesnetz "; English Internet of Things , short form: IoT ) is a collective term for technologies of a global infrastructure of the information society , which makes it possible to network physical and virtual objects with one another and to transfer them through information and let communication technologies work together.

Functions implemented with technologies of the “Internet of Things” allow interaction between humans and any electronic systems networked via this, as well as between the systems themselves. You can also support people in their activities. The ever smaller embedded computers should support people without distracting them or attracting attention at all. So z. B. miniaturized computers, so-called wearables , with different sensors incorporated directly into clothing.

In his 1991 essay, The Computer for the 21st Century , Mark Weiser spoke for the first time under the term “ Ubiquitous Computing ” of a vision in which objects equipped with sensors are seamlessly integrated into their surroundings. This would mean that humans can no longer perceive these objects directly, but that they are omnipresent.

The Internet of Things describes the linking of clearly identifiable physical objects ( things ) with a virtual representation in an Internet- like structure. It no longer consists only of human participants, but also of things. The term “Internet of Things” goes back to Kevin Ashton , who first used it in 1999. However, this is not documented in writing. The Internet of Things became known through the activities of the “ Auto-ID Labs”.

Automatic identification using RFID is often seen as the basis for the Internet of Things. However, this technology can only be seen as a pioneer for the Internet of Things, as there is no possibility for direct communication via Internet protocols. Components such as sensors and actuators extend the functionality to include the acquisition of states and the execution of actions. Extended definitions of the Internet of Things emphasize the affiliation to the future Internet (also English : Future Internet) as well as the demarcation from related research topics.

Goal setting

The aim of the Internet of Things is to automatically capture relevant information from the real world, link it with one another and make it available in the network. This need for information exists because things have a certain state in the real world (e.g. “air is cold”, “printer toner is full”), but this state is not available in the network. The aim is that many real things make their own status information available for further processing in the network. The network can be local, closed as a VPN or connected to the Internet via firewalls. Such status information can be information about the current use, about aging, but also about special environmental conditions at the location of the participant. Such information can be evaluated both to improve the usability of the participant himself (early detection of maintenance or replacement, etc.), as well as to improve the situation of the surrounding area (for example, the reduction of energy consumption for heating or cooling can be used by a large number of of information in the whole room, and thus work better than in the standard installation, which has to make do with a single sensor [often mounted in an unsuitable place]). In a further step, digital services as part of the IoT can facilitate and improve the parameterization of devices so that it also happens where it does not take place today for cost reasons. Important steps to this goal are

  • the standardization of components and services in the Internet of Things;
  • the introduction of an easily accessible, secure and general network connection, suitable for all devices with a built-in microcontroller;
  • the reduction of costs for participants integrated into the IoT (device costs, commissioning costs, connection costs, etc.);
  • the development of low-cost, automated (up to autonomous) digital services in the network that realize the additional benefits of networking.


The Internet of Things differs from the concept of 'self-control of logistics processes'. Self-controlling objects do not necessarily need networked structures similar to the Internet. Nevertheless, synergies can be created, so that at least in research both concepts are happy to be linked. There is also overlap with topics such as ubiquitous computing , pervasive computing , Industry 4.0 , cognitive systems , the Internet Protocol , communication technologies , cyber-physical systems , embedded systems , Web2.0 applications, the Internet (of people) and the "intranet" or “Extranet of Things”. Compared to the dedicated networks of automation technology, which is based on the minimum equipment required to solve the task, the concept of the Internet of Things follows the approach of making information available as widely as possible so that this information can also be used for solutions beyond today will become possible.


If information is only to be retrieved from the physical representations of the actors in the network, identification using, for example, RFID or QR code is sufficient. A central system can make the data relevant to the user available, as is the case, for example, with parcel tracking on the Internet.

However, if the actors are also supposed to process information themselves (for example with a measuring system for environmental values ​​within a city), they must be equipped with data processing hardware. The requirements for such hardware are high reliability and the associated low maintenance costs, since a high failure rate requires maintenance work on a large number of devices that are sometimes far apart or difficult to reach. In addition, the energy consumption should be very low, since the hardware mostly runs around the clock. The acquisition costs must also be low in order to be able to equip as many physical entities as possible. Integrated solutions such as a system-on-a-chip meet these requirements.

On the software side, an operating system with extremely low memory consumption should be used that provides a network stack for communication. Projects like Contiki offer these advantages and can run on many commercially available microcontroller architectures.

Other IoT operating systems are:

  • Windows 10 IoT
  • Android Things

Technology variants available today for the IoT connection of a device are divided into hardware components (such as COM controller chip or smart modules), protocol stacks (e.g. for basic Internet protocols and IoT-specific middleware) and cloud-based IoT platforms for Formation of virtual device networks.

power consumption

The International Energy Agency found in a study that devices from the Internet of Things sector consumed around 616 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy in 2013, of which around 400 TWh were wasted. The control systems, with their permanent internet connection, would themselves use the energy they would have previously saved through intelligent energy management.

Data collection and data protection

Since "things" collect, store and exchange data with one another, they also collect data about their users and users. These can be of interest to commercial companies, states or organizations so that they could seek access to them. However, their interests often do not match those of the users. Therefore, maintaining the sovereignty over the personality or customer profile of the user is a crucial concern of data protection .

Safety measures

The security mechanisms in the Internet of Things environment are by no means exclusive mechanisms that can only be found in this area. It is more about the application of various measures at the software and network level to ensure information security. The protective measures can prevent external access to the integrated devices.

A general protective measure is, for example, choosing a secure password . The Federal Office for Information Security recommends deactivating the UPnP function on routers in order to prevent devices from being misused as part of botnets for denial of service attacks.

To prevent access from outside, there are various options, for example the open standard Trusted Network Connect and Mutual Authentication:

  • Mutual Authentication: In a network environment, devices can authenticate each other with certificates and thus guarantee trustworthy communication. This is realized through hybrid encryption and certificates.
  • Trusted Network Connect: In addition to authentication among devices, it is also possible to analyze all accesses within a network and thus increase security. This is an open standard developed by the Trusted Network Group . Two instances are implemented for this purpose: the “Policy Enforcement Point” (PEP) and the “Policy Decision Point” (PDP). The PEP defines the guidelines for access to the network and can, if necessary, withdraw access rights to users and exclude them from the network. Depending on the type of authentication used, the user may have access to devices, servers and data. The PDP makes the authorization decisions for itself and for other system units, such as for the PEP. If a user wants to use a resource in the network, the PEP sends its user attributes and the desired user access to the PDP via the IF-PEP protocol ( RFC 5792 PA-TNC). This decides on the basis of the user attributes whether the user is authorized or not and sends this to the PEP. The PEP will now allow, forbid or block the user according to defined rules.


The Internet of Things has met with criticism, especially in the area of ​​botnets and smart cars. A current IoT report in the leading cloud security shows that unauthorized employee devices in particular can endanger the security of a company. Such devices include digital home assistants, TV set-top boxes, IP cameras, smart home devices, smart TVs, smart watches, and multimedia systems in vehicles.

It is also known that the USA, Great Britain, Russia, the Netherlands and Malaysia are particularly threatened by malware families. As a result, the IT departments in companies must firstly become aware of this existing risk and consequently relocate such devices to a separate network or consider a web gateway in order to restrict access to external networks. The typical first security measures include changing the standardized login data and using regular security and firmware updates.


In the application, the use of less technical components and functions in the Internet of Things is often sufficient.

  • Parcel tracking via the Internet - Parcel service providers offer the parcel recipient the opportunity to track their shipment during the transport process. For this purpose, the shipment is clearly identified at the respective transport stations using barcodes or 2D codes and the current status is automatically transmitted to a control center. This status can be read by the parcel recipient via a corresponding website.
  • Reordering printer cartridges - The printer uses chip technology to identify its printer cartridges and thus monitors their fill level. If the fill level falls below a predefined limit, the printer asks the user to reorder via the manufacturer's website.

In both examples, there is a clear identification and the link to a corresponding website, and human interaction is also necessary in each case. However, the Internet of Things should also enable direct computer-aided information processing. More complex applications also include Internet-based directory services and the option of choosing between different services.

  • The Internet of Things is also suitable for environmental observations , such as B. to measure air quality . In Switzerland , the carbon dioxide concentration is measured at 300 measuring stations . The data from the sensor network are held via the Low Power Wide Area Network of Swisscom in a cloud transmitted.
  • The Internet of Things is the basis for applications in a " Smart City ". For example, the gas H 2 S is produced in the sewer . In addition to its unpleasant smell, the gas irritates the mucous membranes, causes corrosion and attacks the concrete. Expensive renovation work on the canal and excavations are the result. The Internet of Things makes it possible to continuously measure the concentration of the gas in the ambient air and to initiate countermeasures automatically using metering controls.
  • Another example is the EPCglobal network. However, the EPCglobal architecture has so far been limited to logistical applications and thus represents only a subset of the future vision for the Internet of Things. RFID serves as the basic technology in the EPCglobal network, with which the real world can be extended into the information world, for example using a globally unique identity such as the Electronic Product Code . This merger not only enables the simplified management of existing business processes, but also allows completely new markets and business models to emerge. With EPCglobal and other standardized components, a large part of the relevant infrastructure is already available. The basic services of this infrastructure are functionally based on the principles of the Internet.
  • The following example is intended to illustrate the potential for future applications. The settings of an office chair (for example the position and spring action of the backrest) have a significant impact on health. At present, the adjustment of the chair to the body characteristics of the user is carried out by the user himself (and largely without specialist knowledge, and therefore often disadvantageous). An expert who could regularly adjust the settings of the chair to the needs of the user is costly. If the chair becomes a participant in the Internet of Things, measured values ​​can be recorded by sensors in the chair and evaluated by the manufacturer as part of a low-cost service via the network, so that improved settings can be made on the chair (again via the network, if necessary). The operating energy required for this can be obtained from the load change.


Research on the topic has been carried out by various institutions for years. A constant thematic expansion of the original vision of the Auto-ID Labs can be observed. A large number of research projects on the Internet of Things have been and are being funded at the European and German level, including the linking of physical objects with digital memories .

See also


  • H.-J. Bullinger , M. ten Hompel (Ed.): Internet of Things. Springer, Berlin 2007.
  • M. Wollschlaeger, T. Sauter, J. Jasperneite : The future of industrial communication: Automation networks in the era of the internet of things and industry 4.0. IEEE, 2017, ISSN  1932-4529 , doi: 10.1109 / MIE.2017.264910
  • C. Engemann, F. Sprenger (Ed.): Internet of Things. About smart objects, intelligent environments and the technical penetration of the world. transcript, Bielefeld 2015, ISBN 978-3-8376-3046-6 .
  • E. Fleisch, F. Mattern (Ed.): The Internet of Things - Ubiquitous Computing and RFID in Practice. Springer, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-540-24003-9 .
  • F. Michahelles, J. Mitsugi (Ed.): Internet of Things (IOT 2010). IEEE 2010, Tokyo, Japan, November 29 - December 1, 2010. ISBN 978-1-4244-7415-8 .
  • M. ten Hompel, V. Heidenblut: Taschenlexikon Logistik. VDI book, Springer, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-540-28581-4
  • Schneider Electric, IoT Business Report 2020. Schneider Electric Survey of more than 2500 Business Decision Makers about the Future of IoT
  • D. Uckelmann, M. Harrison, F. Michaelles (Eds.): Architecting the Internet of Things. Springer, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-642-19156-5

Web links

Individual evidence

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  3. ITU Recommendation Y.2060 (06/12)
  4. ^ Mark Weiser: The Computer for the 21st Century. (PDF) Retrieved January 17, 2017 .
  5. Kevin Ashton: That "Internet of Things" Thing. In: RFID Journal. July 22, 2009, sighted April 8, 2011.
  6. F. Mattern, Ch. Flörkemeier: From the Internet of Computers to the Internet of Things (PDF; 868 kB). Computer Science Spectrum, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 107–121, April 2010, viewed November 28, 2013.
  7. CERP-IOT: Internet of Things Strategic Research Roadmap ( Memento of the original from February 27, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF file; 850 kB). Retrieved April 8, 2011. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. D. Uckelmann, M. Harrison, F. Michahelles: An Architectural Approach towards the Future Internet of Things In: D. Uckelmann, M. Harrison, F. Michahelles (Eds.): Architecting the Internet of Things. Springer, Berlin 2011, sighted April 8, 2011.
  9. Self-regulation in logistics (PDF; 665 kB) Retrieved on November 24, 2013.
  10. D. Uckelmann, M.-A. Isenberg, M. Teucke, H. Halfar, B. Scholz-Reiter: Autonomous Control and the Internet of Things: Increasing Robustness, Scalability and Agility in Logistic Networks. In: DC Ranasinghe, QZ Sheng, S. Zeadally (Eds.): Unique Radio Innovation for the 21st Century: Building Scalable and Global RFID Networks. Jumper; Berlin 2010: 163-181.
  11. D. Uckelmann, M. Harrison, F. Michahelles: An Architectural Approach towards the Future Internet of Things In: D. Uckelmann, M. Harrison, F. Michahelles (Eds.): Architecting the Internet of Things. Springer, Berlin 2011, sighted April 8, 2011.
  12. ^ Website of the Contiki project, an operating system for the Internet of Things:
  15. Technology study: Connection of own devices and systems to the Internet of Things (IOT) - Available technologies and products for development. Retrieved June 3, 2018 .
  16. Study: Internet of Things is increasingly eating up energy. from July 7, 2014, viewed on July 7, 2014
  17. , February 24, 2015, "Thomas Steiner and our agencies": What televisions and cars reveal about our data
  18. Website on IoT security, , viewed on February 25, 2015.
  19. The bot in the baby monitor. Federal Office for Information Security of October 24, 2016, accessed on October 27, 2016
  20. Infopoint Security, Munich Germany: Zscaler IoT report shows a dangerous increase in unauthorized devices in the workplace. February 26, 2020, accessed February 28, 2020 .
  21. F. Mattern, Ch. Flörkemeier: From the Internet of Computers to the Internet of Things (PDF; 868 kB). Computer Science Spectrum, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 107–121, April 2010, viewed November 28, 2013.
  22. No problem with the German ban on Amazon's WLAN order button In: . Retrieved January 22, 2019
  23. Carbosense 4D: Nationwide CO2 data analysis. In: . December 7, 2017, accessed January 12, 2019 .
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  25. ^ Website of the IoT European Research Cluster, , viewed on April 8, 2011.
  26. Internet of Things - Networked living and working environments. Website of the BMWi technology program, viewed on April 8, 2011.