IoT: Connecting the Digital to the Physical World

Internet of Things

It's no longer a science-fiction scenario. Digital technologies are already shaping our world for decades. They change our practices and our way of communicating by connecting people and ideas. But today, the border between the digital world and the physical world of objects tends to erode, leading to a revolution in the company but also in our daily lives.

Internet of Things ( IoT ) refers to the extension to things of the benefits of using the Internet so far limited to people, allowing objects to interact with other objects and, therefore, with people in an increasingly digital way. The Internet of Things makes it possible to make available the data needed to understand the real world better, extract information useful for decision-making processes, help companies to undertake digital innovation paths of business.

The Internet of things arises from the convergence of sensors, processing, and communication of specialized digital equipment designed to be used wherever it is needed to collect and process information, automate or integrate the operation of different equipment. The meaning of the Internet of Things (IoT) develops at the highest level the concepts of network communication to allow interaction between objects. For example, between production equipment destined to work together, between corporate equipment and systems used for planning, security, and maintenance. The communication capability now allows the use of cloud services for sophisticated data processing or for inclusion in complex business processes. The Internet of things makes it possible to computerize and network "things," exactly as personal computers, pads, and smartphones have done with people. According to studies, due to the connection of the objects, by 2020, the number of IoT devices on the network will increase to 20.4 billion. Last year it was 8.4 billion.

The applications of the Internet of Things are numerous; the technology connects to the Cloud objects of everyday life such as bicycles, refrigerators, or electric generators. This same technology provides designers, manufacturers, and service companies with real-time information about the effectiveness of their products. This helps to revolutionize the way companies design, build, and maintain their products throughout their life cycle.


These are all those devices that allow you to collect data that then serve to be analyzed and processed in order to produce the information necessary to react and make decisions (whether they are then performed by the objects themselves or by the company management).


There is a wide range of devices that can be inserted in an IoT network: first of all, the video cameras, but then also the detectors for brightness, heat, humidity and magnetic waves, motion and proximity sensors, as well as those of sound. There are also many objects that today and ever more in perspective will concern the wearable field.

It is clear that there is a lot of hype around the Internet of Things. This technology will undeniably bring real added value and especially at the design stage. Indeed, all objects, at least manufactured objects, take shape in 3D, in digital format. CAD is, therefore, a great way to validate ideas and create digital prototypes. Once ready, this prototype is deposited at the factory, but it will then lose its value by becoming becomes a physical object indeed.

In most product life cycles, we go from digital to physical without ever thinking of a possible reverse. But while computer-aided design and manufacturing solutions have transformed the way products are put on the market, the assessment of products during their life cycle has barely progressed. 

Information about physical objects rarely comes back to the digital world where it took shape. We market the product hoping that everything will be fine. If a customer ends up showing up, at this point, it's a little late, and the customer is already dissatisfied. This unidirectional transition from digital to physical is a big thing of the modern days. We are now entering an era where mechanical and autonomous products have become intelligent. The vehicles are equipped with software integrated into the engine control unit; everyday devices can monitor their own maintenance status. By linking these products to the cloud, they can be remotely monitored and controlled by computers, smartphones, or other devices. Applied to the larger scale, this concept tends towards the advent of intelligent infrastructures, such as cities, farms, or factories.

 For example, the Santa Cruz V10, which was the first all-carbon bike to win the 2010 ATV World Cup. The bike was equipped with a Raspberry computer. Pi, which provides connectivity, and multiple sensors monitor critical parameters such as wheel speed, cadence, and suspension compression by designing using a CAD system.

By connecting this ATV using an IoT platform, the first physical and digital bike was created. But that's not all. A bicycle-generated data log file is used to create a "digital twin," that is, an exact representation of an individual physical bike and how it behaves.

And the information is not only one-sided, from the physical world to the digital world. The data can also be used in the other direction, from digital to physical. Technicians can scan the unique serial number of a bike with an iPad and connect it to their digital twin via the cloud. This makes it possible to superimpose a digital dashboard of information on an image of the bike itself, thanks to augmented reality.

The latter makes it possible to provide on-the-spot instructions to engineers working on complex devices such as electric generators. This technology not only identifies problems but also shows how to solve them through animated simulations superimposed on maintenance procedures, replacing bulky document documentation with concrete graphic demonstrations.

With data collected from thousands or millions of individual products in the field, manufacturers and service agents can begin to leverage Big Data analytics to aggregate this information and reintegrate it into the fabricating process to boost customer satisfaction, product innovation and service improvement. While service applications have revolutionized IoTInternet of Things, augmented reality and the digital twins of the Internet of Things have revolutionized service. It is an ambitious and motivating prospect.


1001 Words


Jan 10, 2020


3 Pages

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