IoT protocols are crucial for connecting hardware and for exchanging information in a structured way, without these protocols, the hardware devices would be useless.
Remember the Internet of Things looks forward to connecting devices and giving them the possibility to measure useful information for the user. This is possible thanks to IoT protocols. They are crucial in the IoT product design and the development phase.
What is an IoT protocol?
First it is important to understand the protocol definition, which is a standardized set of rules for formatting and processing data. Protocols are crucial for allowing computers to communicate with each other.
So, IoT communication protocols are a set of rules for products that are IoT oriented, that is, devices that aim to gather and provide data, and which can “talk” or communicate with other devices or platforms by using a common language that is set under an IoT ecosystem.
The importance of IoT protocols
By using IoT protocols, a company or organization makes sure that the information a device is collecting and sending is correctly read and understood by another device or application.
The Internet of Things allows improving operational processes, business lines, and tracking routes; you can find more information about this in our article about industrial IoT applications.
There are also other devices that are useful for analyzing personal information like burned calories, oxygen levels, sleep patterns, among others; these are some IoT examples in daily life.
Now that you understand the importance of IoT and its protocols, let’s analyze some of the most common IoT protocols you can consider for your project.
We can group the IoT protocols into data protocols and network protocols.
IoT data protocols
This type of protocol is used to connect low-power IoT devices. They can connect to hardware on the user side without requiring internet connection.
The connectivity in this case can be done through a cellular network. These are IoT data protocols: AMQP, CoAP, DDS, MQTT, HTTP, TCP, WebSocket.
AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol)
It is a software layer that creates interoperability between messaging middleware. It is very useful for a wide range of applications and systems to work together.
This IoT protocol allows to receive and place messages in queues, store messages, and set up a relationship between these components.
CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol)
A constrained-bandwidth and constrained-network protocol designed for products or devices with limited capacity to connect in machine-to-machine communication.
Besides, CoAP is a document-transfer protocol that runs over User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
Data Distribution Service (DDS)
This protocol is versatile, it does everything from running tiny devices to connecting high-performance networks. DDS streamlines deployment, increases reliability, and reduces complexity.
MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport)
MQTT is mainly used for low-bandwidth connections to remote locations. This IoT protocol uses a publisher-subscriber pattern and also, it is ideal for small products or devices that require dynamic bandwidth and battery use.
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
It is a set of protocols for transmitting files over the web: text, images, sound, video, and other files. This protocol allows resources to be exchanged between devices and servers over the internet.
TCP (Transmission Control Protocol)
The dominant protocol for a majority of internet connectivity. It offers host-to-host communication, breaking large sets of data into individual packets and resending and reassembling packets as needed.
This protocol is between the application and network layers. It allows host-to-host communication by breaking large sets of data into individual packets, and then resends and reassembles them as required.
Through a single TCP connection, messages can be sent between the client and the server. This IoT data protocol allows web applications to conduct two-way communications with web servers.
Websockets allow web applications to use a Transmission Control Protocol like API. You can find this IoT protocol used for devices that act as clients or servers.
IoT network protocols
An IoT network protocol can be used to connect a device over a network. These are commonly used over the internet. Let’s analyze some of them:
BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)
This is like an improved version of the bluetooth, the difference is that it reduces the power consumption and cost.
It is highly used in consumer electronics because it can be adapted with ease to mobile devices, it is really low cost and it has a long battery life.
This is the most famous IoT protocol. A Wifi network can be created with the intervention of a device or product that can send wireless signals (phones, computers, routers).
Wifi uses frequencies like 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels to transmit data. Several devices can work on these channels in a range of 100 meters and connect to the internet.
NFC (Near Field Communication)
This IoT wireless protocol allows two devices to communicate in a range of four centimeters by using electromagnetic fields. This type of protocol is popular for contactless mobile payments, tickets, credit cards, and smart cards.
It is a similar technology to bluetooth, it presents lower power consumption, high security, low data-range, and it has a longer range of communication compared to bluetooth (200 meters, while bluetooth allows 100 meters).
This IoT protocol is easy to set up and can be implemented with ease in products or devices that have small requirements, for instance, sensors and microcontrollers can use this protocol.
Z-Wave (popular IoT protocol)
This wireless IoT protocol is gaining popularity. It is mainly used for IoT devices used at homes and it operates on 2.4GHz. It uses low-energy radio waves to communicate.
LoRaWan is an IoT protocol that is built on LoRa radio modulation. It connects devices to the internet in a wireless way.
Due to its long range features, low cost and low power consumption, this protocol is presenting a lot of IoT applications in the industry, and smart cities.
What IoT protocol is right for me?
After reading all this information, you may wonder about what is the best option for your project. Well, it all depends on the system architecture where the data will travel in. Also, bear in mind the intention or area of your project: Electric Vehicles, tracking, healthcare, consumer electronics, smart energy (see IoT in energy management).
You can check the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection), this model explains different ways in which the layers send and receive data, and how you can take advantage of that considering the configuration you need for your IoT Device; device-to-device, device-to-gateway, gateway-to-data-center, gateway-to-cloud, or communication between data centers.
Also, if you are planning to update IoT devices, bear in mind that new protocols and configurations may be necessary to ensure a proper performance and connection capabilities (see what is a smart meter).
We expect this article is useful for you, and provides better insight on the most used IoT protocols you can consider for hiring a professional and reliable hardware development service.
If you have any questions around IoT protocols we invite you to comment below. Also if you would like to get a free consultation for your IoT project, you can contact us by clicking below.