What is the difference between consumer IoT and industrial IoT?

Posted May 25, 20204 min read

Introduction: There are many articles about the consumer Internet of Things, but the Industrial Internet of Things(IIoT) has begun to attract a lot of attention because of its role in helping manufacturers and industrial companies to optimize processes and implement remote monitoring capabilities. So what is the difference between them?


But what exactly is the Industrial Internet of Things, and how is it different from consumer-oriented applications such as smart refrigerators and air conditioners?

The following are some important differences that help delineate the boundaries between consumers and the industrial IoT ecosystem.

Consumer Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things

  1. Industrial IoT devices have strong industrial strength, and FitBit may occasionally be damaged by rain, and the Amazon Dash button may come into contact with the products they are tracking. Sensors for industrial deployment need to be able to be consumed Survival in an environment that no one will ever encounter.

Such conditions include extreme humidity and temperature as well as highly corrosive environments, such as those encountered in sewage infrastructure(such as water channels).

In addition, embedded industrial IoT sensors that measure fluids such as water and oil often need to be immersed in the liquid being measured. Such devices need to meet the stringent industry waterproof standards set by IP68 certification.

Devices usually also need to be certified by HazLoc to prove that they can withstand explosive and flammable environments.

  1. The design of the IIoT system must be scalable

Deploying complex water monitoring systems with hundreds of midpoints and endpoints distributed over hundreds of kilometers is much more complicated than the most ambitious consumer home automation projects.

Because IIoT systems can generate billions of data points, the method of transmitting information from sensors to the final destination must also be considered, usually industrial control systems, such as SCADA(Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) platforms.

To prevent these centralized systems from being overwhelmed by data, IIoT manufacturers are increasingly designing hardware that can perform preliminary analysis directly at the device level rather than on programs running on cloud-based servers, called edge computing or fog computing .

Consumer IoT applications involve fewer devices and data points. Therefore, minimizing the throughput of the central server is no longer a problem.

  1. IIoT devices have unique communication and power requirements

IIoT sensors are often installed on remote infrastructure that is difficult to physically access to measure parameters. These infrastructures can be located below the surface(eg, oil and gas facilities), on high ground(eg, reservoirs), offshore(eg, oil wells), and even in remote desert areas that cannot be reached by highway(eg, weather stations).

Deploying technicians to inspect these assets is difficult and expensive. In order to minimize the number of field trips required, IIoT devices need to be designed to have the longest possible battery life, which can usually be achieved by using industrial-grade battery construction.

IIoT's unique low power consumption and low bandwidth requirements have stimulated the development of a series of new network families, such as LPWAN and NB-IoT, which are the main means of connecting these devices to a central server.

These are precisely designed according to the needs of IoT devices. Cellular networks(high bandwidth, so too much battery burden) and protocols such as WiFi and Bluetooth cannot fully meet these needs.

To provide the maximum possible communication redundancy, such gateways must be configured to support IoT-specific and more traditional networking technologies, such as WiFI and Bluetooth. Mixing these on the same device is a challenge for hardware engineers.

Due to the critical nature of the activities they control, and the fact that operators often do not have easy access to these facts, IIoT devices usually need to be fully remotely controllable, with the shortest response time and a built-in watchdog timer to ensure that the system restarts automatically when the system is suspended.

On the other hand, consumer products are usually located in easily accessible locations, so fixed power sources or conventional consumer-grade batteries can often be used.

  1. IIoT must meet unique cybersecurity standards

According to HP research, cybersecurity is an important challenge facing the Internet of Things(IoT), where 70%of the most commonly used IoT devices are vulnerable.

Hacking smart home devices may have an important impact on personal privacy, for example, if an attacker obtains a customer's real-time video source.

If the same fate falls on industrial IoT systems(usually responsible for connecting sensors to critical infrastructure resources such as power plants and water management facilities), the potential impact will be more severe(Stuxnet worm provides a good example).

Therefore, IIoT installations must meet higher network security requirements before they can be approved for installation.

IIoT also involves integrated information technology(IT) and operation technology(OT) systems, such as PLC controllers, which have different network security best practices.

In contrast, consumer IoT systems only need to interface with relatively simple control mechanisms on consumer devices.

  1. IIoT solution must be granular(Granular)

Unlike high-end mass market IoT products such as smart washing machines, IIoT solutions usually need to be customized according to the purchaser's use requirements.

Therefore, IIoT technology can usually be used in multiple ways, so that a higher degree of customization and integration with other software systems can be achieved. This includes API or Platform as a Service(PaaS) products.

In contrast, the customization and functionality of applications for the consumer market are often significantly limited.

In summary, although both consumers and the Industrial Internet of Things connect physical devices to the Internet, there are significant differences in several aspects.

From the perspective of development and commercial promotion, they are more and more like parallel ecosystems, with obvious overlap, but also significant differences, participants and innovation.

The most significant difference between the Industrial Internet of Things(IIoT) and the consumer version is that it requires rugged hardware devices, the unique connection and power requirements required by its use cases, and the more stringent requirements for advanced network security and granularity.