4 IoT Architecture Examples and Use Cases

4 IoT Architecture Examples and Use Cases
Design and build an exceptional Internet of Things platform with these IoT architecture examples and relevant IoT use cases.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) finally gaining steam in the business world, the demand for IoT platforms continues to increase. Notably, an IoT Analytics study detailed in Thomas Insights predicts an increase in the global IIoT market from $1.67 billion in 2018 to $12.44 billion in 2024, showing a compound annual growth rate of 40%. Similarly, Grand View Research forecasts a CAGR of 34% for the worldwide IoT device management market from 2022 to 2030. 

Needless to say, many software development shops want to take advantage of this robust number of opportunities in a quickly growing IoT market. However, sluggish IoT management and control apps fail to provide the seamless experience necessary to make a meaningful impact. 

So with a goal of designing and building an exceptional Internet of Things platform, check out these IoT architecture examples followed by a few relevant IoT use cases. Leverage this information to inform your own team’s designs and architectural approach. Crafting a functional and feature rich platform that – most importantly – offers users a seamless experience needs to be your ultimate goal. 

The Three-Layer IoT Architecture 

A three-layer architecture provides the most basic design approach for any IoT system. Here is a quick definition for each of these three layers:

  • Perception Layer: This layer includes any sensors or devices used to gather information and data about the local environment. It effectively serves as the physical layer for the IoT architecture
  • Network Layer: As hinted at by its name, the network layer handles communication between the IoT devices in the system and any management servers. All sensor data is processed and transmitted within this layer.
  • Application Layer: The application layer provides an interface between the system’s users and the rest of the IoT platform. The types of applications ultimately depend on the scope and functionality detailed in the architectural design.

While a three-layer architecture defines a basic IoT product development, most complex use-cases require a more robust approach. So let’s look more closely at these more involved IoT architectures. 

The Five-Layer IoT Architecture 

The five-layer architecture includes two layers from the three-layer version, the perception and application layers. Additionally, the network layer is effectively split into two layers as defined below:

  • Transport Layer:  The transport layer handles direct communication with sensors and devices within an IoT architecture. It leverages any variety of wireless communication protocols for this purpose, including 5G, Bluetooth, NFC, and RFID.
  • Processing Layer: This layer ultimately serves as the middleware for the five-layer IoT architecture. It processes and stores data generated by IoT sensors and devices. Depending on the system design, it might include databases, Cloud services, and related functional processing.

As noted earlier, a five-layer IoT architecture already includes an application layer. However to support more complex systems it also include a business layer defined below:

  • Business Layer: The business layer provides management support for an entire IoT platform. This includes support for more complex applications, including reporting, privacy, cybersecurity, and more. 

Obviously, the five-layer architecture handles more involved IoT platform use-cases. Depending on the type of system your team hopes to build, this architectural approach works for many scenarios. 

The Cloud IoT Architecture 

A cloud IoT architecture makes sense for platforms designed with cloud computing as the central element for all data processing functionality. In essence, all applications then reside above the cloud, with IoT sensors and devices residing below it. 

It offers a suitable design approach if your IoT platform wants to leverage cloud-based services to handle data storage, cybersecurity, machine learning processing, and more. It provides a highly scalable platform for any IoT system, while also letting developers leverage a service-based architectures for adding meaningful system functionality.

The Fog IoT Architecture 

A fog IoT architecture features a similar layered design as the five-layer model, but with separate layers for managing security and data storage. Additionally, some preprocessing functionality occurs in the physical layer where all sensors and devices reside, with processed data sent directly to the cloud. A monitoring layer also verifies system power and service functionality across the edge of the entire platform. 

Use-Cases For IoT Architectures

The three-layer IoT architecture makes sense for only the most basic platforms. These include a simple smart home device management platform without off-site management functionality or other complex features. Most business-level IoT use-cases require one of the final three architectural approaches, especially the cloud or fog, if the team wants to leverage cloud computing and its scalability. 

Healthcare use-cases for an IoT platform include remote patient monitoring as well as proactive equipment maintenance and inventory tracking. In the future, also expect remote surgeries with an IoT robotic device. Additionally, the maintenance and inventory use-cases apply to other business sectors, like manufacturing and agriculture, which also boast intriguing possibilities for a variety of transformational IoT platforms. 

If you have a great idea for an IoT system, but lack the technical chops to make it a reality, connect with the team at NineTwoThree. Our deep experience with IoT software development is fostered by a keen mix of technology innovation and business acumen. Reach out to us at your earliest convenience. 

Tim Ludy
Tim Ludy
Articles From Tim
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