IoT nodes: what they are and why they are so ubiquitous in the Internet of Things

Today, more than half of the electronic devices manufactured in the world are already IoT, i.e. they are capable of communicating data over computer networks.


What are IoT nodes?

IoT nodes are the physical elements within an IoT environment that enable the connection of the physical world to the Internet. To understand what an IoT node is, it is necessary to first understand what IoT is and what it does. The Internet of Things is a network of connected devices that allows industrial companies to monitor, compile and analyse data from their production and operational plants.

The elements in an IoT architecture are composed of:

  • Devices that include sensors, actuators, cameras, GPS locators, or IoT nodes
  • Connectivity, the network that connects devices to enterprise servers or Cloud platforms.
  • Data processing and analysis applications. These can be as simple as simple data capture and forwarding, or as complex as advanced algorithms for the Edge computing
  • Interfaces for interaction with human operators

IoT nodes are in the first category of elements, devices. In other words, devices are the "T" in the acronym IoT, from things. Thus, without IoT nodes, there is no way to connect the physical world, a closed environment, with the Internet, an open environment.

Nodes are the closest point to the physical world and the one that allows connecting the different equipment installed in the field, enabling the collection of information from all the data sources of an industrial company. This information can be transported to the cloud and other remote platforms for processing, and the information can also be processed at the edge.

When talking about nodes, there is a wide variety of these devices: a network node can be as simple as a small connected sensor, or something more complex such as gateways that function as concentrators of data from different data sources or IoT nodes where more complex algorithms are executed, known as Edge Computing.

IoT nodes

IoT Node functionalities

From a physical point of view, IoT nodes, also called IoT devices, are very varied but all have in common that they are electronic devices that either collect data from the physical world (directly if they are sensors or indirectly if they are gateways) or act on it.

The main function of a network node is to serve as a connecting element between the physical world and the internet. In that sense, IoT nodes must be able to fulfil at least one of these functions:

1. Collect data and send it to the internet via a communications interface; 2.

2. Acting on the medium based on the data it receives from the Internet

Therefore, the use of IoT nodes in industrial environments enables not only data capture but also has the capacity for the on-device or edge computing.

Recommended reading:
The importance of Edge Computing in Industrial IoT

Barbara OS for the deployment of cyber-secure IoT nodes

The deployment of IoT nodes consists of physically installing the nodes and configuring them (with the logic and algorithms they require) for the use for which they have been designed. It is the closest point to the physical world and the one that allows connecting the different equipment installed in the field, enabling the collection of information from different data sources.

The IoT node is the element on which the Barbara OS operating system and its applications run. Barbara OS-based IoT nodes allow you to run applications, either natively or in Docker containers, that decide what data to collect, when to collect it and how to process it. These can be as simple as apps that capture data from a temperature sensor and send it to a server in the cloud, or as complex as Artificial Intelligence (AI) engines that analyse a video stream from a camera in real time and send alerts when manufacturing defects are detected on a production line.

A devicelifecycle management tool is essential for the secure deployment of IoT nodes, so that enterprises can remotely update, monitor and control all their IoT devices.

Find out more about: How to optimise IoT deployments with Docker containers

If you are interested in this article, request a personalised demo to find out how IoT technology can help you advance your digitisation process.