Industrial IoT/Consumer IoT: Same Dif? Not Exactly

When it works like it should, the Internet of Things is widely known as a technology to make our lives easier, activities more convenient and, ultimately, to save us time. Who doesn’t appreciate having their fridge send them a grocery list, or their fit bit guilt them into one more time around the block? But to borrow a favorite line from The Godfather, IoT isn’t just about personal. It’s about business.

That’s why the Industrial Internet of Things is gaining significant attention in the corporate world by helping factories and enterprise do more than what the fridge can do for the average consumer. Sensor technology can optimize processes and make factory floors more efficient. IIoT can also enable remote monitoring and predictive maintenance. Yes, these features are all convenient. But they also save companies a lot of money, which can be deployed elsewhere in the business.

Although there are parallels of purpose, today the basic differences between consumer IoT and Industrial IoT are worth exploring. Here are four characteristics unique to IIoT.

  • IIoT devices are super strong. Fitbits and fridges may get wet, but that’s nothing compared to the wet, corrosive environments and extremes of heat and humidity that industrial sensors and trackers might undergo in assembly lines or industrial machines.
  • IIoT systems are scalable and large. Millions of data points from thousands of devices require a centralized industrial control system, compared to the consumer applications that currently use fewer devices and data points.
  • IIoT must be super cyber secure. As intrusive and inconvenient as the breach of an individual’s personal privacy might be, it doesn’t usually create a life or death situation. But a hack at a nuclear power plant or a water treatment plant could have far more dangerous ramifications. This means IIoT systems must meet rigorous security requirements before they can be used in large scale essential facilities.
  • IIoT devices are more customized. IIoT devices are rarely made for the mass market. As a result, they must be more customized and allow more integration with a variety of software. This means they include more APIs or Platform as a Service (PaaS) parts.

As smart cities evolve and IIoT and consumer IoT begin to borrow best practices from each other, more convergence between the two is inevitable. How fast that convergence occurs will be an interesting story to follow as consumers and companies both try to get smarter using IoT.