About the ‘Things’ in the Internet of Things (IoT)

About the ‘Things’ in the Internet of Things (IoT)

In the Series Intro post about how IoT device communicate, we gave a rough overview of the common components within the IoT reference architecture. You remember the following picture:

IoT Reference Architecture

In this post, we want to go into a little more detail about the devices or “things”. The “things” that give the Internet of Things its name. Here we distinguish between different types, which will be described in the following.


The sensors only send information to an endpoint without any intelligence.

Smart Devices

In addition to simply passing on information, these devices also have a certain intelligence. This enables these smart devices to act according to certain specifications. Thus, in addition to transmitting information, they could also trigger certain actions on the basis of an adjustable threshold value, such as regulating the radiator temperature on the basis of the room temperature.

Field Gateway

The field gateway is a kind of data collector in the field. If the devices are not Internet-enabled, a field gateway would collect the data from these devices and send it to the cloud gateway on their behalf. Field gateways are also often used to perform a “protocol transformation”. As a practical example, I would like to mention a Modbus fieldbus, which per se cannot send to a common cloud gateway. The field gateway, however, could record the data of the individual nodes in the Modbus network and then forward them to the cloud gateway according to the required protocol.

Edge Device

The term edge gateway is often heard in the IoT environment. This refers to devices that are equipped with a certain computing power and can thus perform certain data pre-processing. This computing power is often used to be able to monitor data streams independently, to react autonomously and possibly only forward data to the cloud gateway in certain situations. The edge gateway is, so to speak, an outpost of the cloud.

Our IoT platform I/O.nite can handle all these types of devices. The usual IoT or IIoT protocols are implemented and can be operated out-of-the-box.

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