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Sep 25, 2019 5:05 AM ET

How do smart home devices communicate?

iCrowd Newswire - Sep 25, 2019

You’ve probably heard about the Internet of Things devices. These gadgets can usually be controlled with the help of a smartphone, provide automation features, and offer further remote access options using the cloud technology or web-based portals.

But have you ever considered how these smart devices actually work? And in particular, how is it possible for objects like smart TVs, fridges, or thermostats to communicate with each other? Read on to learn more about the underlying technology behind intelligent devices, especially the network protocols they use for communication.

Wireless communication

IoT devices use different methods for wireless communication, but most often, they take advantage of WiFi and Bluetooth. Such devices use WiFi to interface with a central wireless router liked to a modem which is connected to the internet. WiFi allows transmitting a large amount of data, fast.

Another common wireless protocol is Bluetooth. This technology is often found in peripherals like wireless mouse or keyboard. It also comes in handy for synchronizing data with wearable devices like fitness trackers or smartwatches. Bluetooth is reliable and requires relatively little power for data transmission. That’s why it’s an excellent pick for simple devices that transmit data frequently.

Still, WiFi and Bluetooth aren’t ideal for IoT. WiFi uses a lot of power, which would require users to change batteries in their smart home devices frequently. Bluetooth uses less power, but its range is limited. It can’t handle too many connections.

That’s why IoT engineers have devised a number of alternative protocols used specifically for IoT purposes.

The two very popular protocols are Z-Wave and ZigBee. They’ve been around for over a decade, helping devices like washers and dryers to communicate. They provide low-power, relatively long-distance communication available for hundreds or even thousands of devices. Both protocols use symmetric encryption for security.

Another option is Lightweight M2M (LwM2M), a communication protocol designed for remote device management and telemetry within IoT applications. It reduces the power and data consumption – that’s why it’s a great match for devices with limited processing and storage capabilities.

IoT is constantly evolving, and you can be sure that engineers will come up with many more solutions for fostering communication between connected devices.


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