Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 23-3 - 21

The Potential of IoT for
Instrumentation and Measurement
Boon-Yaik Ooi and Shervin Shirmohammadi

I

t is rare for someone in the engineering or science fields
not to have heard of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT has
been disrupting many industries by providing an unprecedented approach for a (potentially large) number of
distributed components connected over a network to collect
data, collaborate, and perform tasks with almost no human
intervention. Spending in IoT is forecasted to reach US $1
trillion by 2022 [1] and is considered to be one of the core enabling technologies behind the fourth industrial revolution.
But what is IoT really? The deep understanding of IoT and
therefore its definition are still evolving. Meanwhile, IEEE
defines an IoT system as "a system of entities (including cyber-physical devices, information resources, and people)
that exchange information and interact with the physical
world by sensing, processing information, and actuating"
[2]. Furthermore, the "Thing" in IoT can be defined as "an
IoT component or IoT system that has functions, properties
and ways of information exchange" [2]. The exact interpretation of the "Thing," and not the "Internet" part which has
existed for many years, is causing IoT's definition to still
evolve [3]. In essence, the components of an IoT system interact with each other to fulfill the goal for which the system has
been designed. For example, in a smart home, an IoT system
consisting of interconnected thermostats, switches, alarms,
triggers, cameras, sensors, and actuators can autonomously
control lighting, temperature, ambience, and security based
on the inhabitants' observed behaviors, leading to more efficiency, comfort, and energy savings. Our transportation
systems can benefit from an IoT consisting of connected vehicles, drivers, pedestrians, and traffic infrastructure (signs,
lights, roads, etc.) for more efficient traffic routing, road assistance, emergency response, parking support, and toll
collection. Or, in an industrial setting, IoT can enable the integration of manufacturing machines or robots equipped
with instrumentation, sensing, processing, communication,
and collaboration, leading to more efficiency and profitability in the management of equipment, assets, processes, and
produced goods. This Industrial IoT, also known as IIoT, is
of particular interest, since it is a core enabling technology
May 2020	

behind Industry 4.0, estimated to generate a US $12 trillion
market by 2030 [4].
While the concepts behind IoT were being discussed in the
early 1990s, Cisco estimates that IoT was finally realized some
time in 2008 or 2009, when the "things" to people ratio grew
above 1.0 [5]. So, as IoT turns 10 years old, we take a look at
how it impacts the field of Instrumentation and Measurement
(I&M). In I&M, IoT provides an unprecedented approach for
instruments to collect measurements, track, detect, monitor,
characterize, identify, estimate or count physical phenomena, and perform analysis with almost no human intervention.
In that view, we can say that IoT is in fact a natural extension
of many measurement instruments. In this article, we first
highlight the benefits of having IoT as part of measurement instruments, before discussing the caveats of incorporating IoT
into measurement systems. We also cover how IoT is currently
being used in I&M literature, and what voids need to be filled
with further research. With that in mind, let us begin by looking at the benefits of IoT in I&M.

IoT Benefits for I&M
IoT can enhance measurement instruments to more efficiently
perform continuous and thorough measurements, simultaneous wide area measurements, and real-time measurement
analysis, as well as provide better integrity of measurement.
Each of these is described next.

Continuous and Thorough Measurements
Before the advent of IoT, measurements were often taken
manually, which meant that it was not cost effective to make
continuous and thorough measurements. Without continuous measurements, it is very challenging if not impossible to
capture measurand properties such as rate-of-change, autocorrelation, or causality. Without thorough measurements, we
may even miss interesting events due to low sampling rates as
required by the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem. IoT on
the other hand, makes continuous thorough measurements
possible through the implementation of low-power and wireless sensor nodes. There are many existing IoT measurement

IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine	21
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Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 23-3

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