IoT, How does it connect devices?

Youngryun C
3 min readNov 2, 2021

This project was done as a communication design studio project in Fall 2021 at CMU. The goal of this project was to explain complicated concepts in visual languages.

What it is

IoT, the Internet of things, is a technology that connects smart devices embedded with sensors and actuators through the Internet to collect, exchange, and utilize data.

How it works

Experts say that 35 billion devices will be working for us in 2021. How can so many devices communicate with each other? In the IoT world, there are four layers of technology that make this communication possible.

1. Perception Layer

The perception layer is where the ‘things’ exist. ‘Things’ can be just a small chip or a machine equipped with sensors and actuators. Sensors collect physical parameters like temperature, humidity, and position and turn them into electrical signals. Actuators translate electrical signals into physical actions through motors, light bulbs, or robot arms.


2. Connectivity Layer

The electrical signals, or data, enter the ‘Connectivity layer.’ Devices using Ethernet or Wifi that follow Internet protocols can directly connect to the Internet. However, some connectivity technologies like NFC or Bluetooth have their own protocols. Therefore, ‘gateways’ are needed to translate their protocols into internet protocols.

3. Middleware Layer

Now, data reaches the ‘Middleware layer.’ Data is accumulated, processed, and reviewed for its relevance to the business requirements. These tasks are usually handled via an IoT platform, such as Google Cloud Platform or Amazon AWS IoT Core. However, a significant amount of data created simultaneously and continuously can cause a system delay. To prevent data overload, edge nodes are deployed at the edge of the network to process data locally and determine which data should be processed further and which can be ignored.

“Data is accumulated”

4. Application Layer

Lastly, the application layer enables end-users to control devices and analyze reports. For example, your smartwatch allows you to check your calorie consumption.

“your smartwatch allows you to check your calorie consumption.”

Why it is important

As such, IoT is helping people live smarter and healthier lives. IoT also affects business in terms of cost reduction and efficiency increase by automating processes and monitoring systems. As more and more businesses are realizing the potential of IoT, the implementation of IoT will spread throughout the industry in the future.