There is a lot of concern about interoperability in the Internet of Things. For the IoT to reach its full potential, devices need to be able to work together in multiple ways, many of which are not evident at the time of the design. Interoperability among devices is needed for this vision to be realized, and gateways offer one possible answer.
Gateways are part of the hub-and-spoke model for IoT design. In this model, end-point devices communicate with a central hub (or gateway) that relays information to and from the Internet, rather than end-point devices communicating directly with the Internet. This structure offers a number of advantages. For one, it allows the end-point device to be relatively simple, needing only basic communications ability. The gateway handles all the heavy lifting of handling Internet protocols and security features, long-distance connectivity, and possibly preprocessing data before forwarding.
A second advantage of the hub-and-spoke structure is that the gateway can provide a localized source of control and decision making without the need for continual Internet connectivity. This can be particularly valuable in situations where Internet connectivity is uncertain or unreliable, as well as situations where data-based control decisions must be made reliably with minimal delay. A gateway with sufficient intelligence, data storage, and the like can minimize the need for cloud-based processing on many tasks.
A third, and arguably most significant, advantage is that the gateway can unify a heterogeneous collection of end-point devices into a functional team. It doesn't matter what protocols or connectivity options a given device uses. If the gateway can work with them, then that device can work as part of a coordinated team. End-point devices need not be designed to be interoperable; they don't even need to be designed to interact. The gateway provides the coordinating intelligence, along with all the needed translations and message relays.
Read full article on EE Times' sister site, IoT World.