IPv6 and the Internet of Things (IoT) – Part I

IoT, IPv6 und die Cloud

The Internet of Things, IoT, changes our lives. Billions of devices are already interconnected over the Internet in one or the other way and there are much more on the way.

Regardless of whether there may be sensors or actuators in a production cell or sneakers with integrated pedometers delivering step counts to the smart phone of the runner, the amount of data is enormous.

Based on environmental conditions (e.g. production plant, open-air site,…) and applications different requirements to networking technology and immunity against electromagnetic interference arise.

Therefore different networking technologies are available. Additionally appropriate security measures are required to protect transmitted or stored information from theft, deletion or modification.

Most often wireless transmission technology is used. Actually radio technology is implemented, transmission via light generated by LEDs in e.g. cars or street lights is an emerging technology.

Traditional physical signal transmission technologies and media access control procedures developed for office environments like Ethernet, Bluetooth or WLAN may not be appropriate. These technologies do not consider noisy environments, lossy networks, instable and battery-powered devices, as expected in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Technologies designed for factory or building automation, as they are already in use for long time, meet many of the requirements of the Internet of Things (IoT). Of interest are technologies like Industrial Ethernet, Highway Addressable Remote Transducer (HART), Profinet, HomePlug and others.

For factory automation (keyword: Industry 4.0) a number of alliances or working groups define standards covering functions, features and protocols of all seven layers of the OSI model and above. Examples are Eclipse Foundation, Industrial Internet Consortium, IPSO Alliance or ZigBee Alliance.

Personal Area Networks (PANs) are used to interconnect wearables. These networks have short reach (in the near field of a person, just a few meters). Radio technology in Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANs) is specified in standard IEEE 802.15.4 IEEE Standard for Local and metropolitan area networks – Part 15.4: Low-Rate Wireless Personal Area Networks (LR-WPAN).

To transfer data of the Internet of Things (IoT) over Wide Area Networks (WANs) available and well-known mobile radio services like Long Term Evolution (LTE) or Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) will be used.

Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is common to all different communications technologies of the Internet of Things (IoT) in layer 3 of the OSI model.

The Internet Protocols Version 6 (IPv6) offers many advantages for the use of Wireless Personal Area Networks. A specification called 6LoWPAN („IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks“) was published to cover the specific requirements of the Internet of Things (IoT). Find details in RFC 4944 and all updates.

Without the supported features and functions of the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) many services could not be realized.

Find examples in my next blogpost of this series.

About the Author:

Ronald Schlager is an independent trainer, consultant, and blogger specialized on communications technologies and their applications.

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