The Internet of Things has become a hugely popular field of research. This is due to the
effect that the application of this range of technologies could have on an individual’s daily
life. These technologies could be applied in a range of applications from the ‘smart home’ to
a more connected and ‘smarter’ industrial application. The Internet of Things is a paradigm
in which a range of technologies are used to provide for ubiquitous communication between
nearly all objects in the world. Currently the approach has been to make use of a collection of
proprietary technologies and hardware in order to provide this ubiquitous connection between
devices. This focus on proprietary (closed source) hardware and technologies has come about
as a result of the belief that open source hardware and software is inferior, especially for
industrial use. This effect is compounded by the fact that proprietary hardware is designed
to operate optimally with other hardware made by the same company. Often this technology
is not inter-operable with hardware from other competing companies. Another strongly held
belief is that the current range of Internet of Things devices are low resource devices with a
limited range of capabilities. This belief has led to the development of a range of specialized
protocols specifically within this domain to provide advanced capabilities (such as secure
communication) in a form that these low resource devices can make use of.
Through the course of this research it is shown that not only are the available new devices powerful enough to make use of the standard protocols that are available but that an open
source approach to the design and development of the application ensures that the devices
are inter-operable. This comes as a result of the fact that the development process for open
source technologies is far more inclusive and built to the community standards rather than
to a specific company’s specifications. Through the course of this research it is shown that
open source technologies allow for a more capable and inter-operable device to be created.
These open source technologies also open up the possibility of creating customized devices
from a commercial-off-the-shelf devices (COTS) where devices are modified to work in the
The COTS approach together with open-source modular design approach also allows for
the upgrading of individual technologies within the system. An example, consider that the
ZigBee protocol is currently the preferred communication technology. If in the future a
better performing technology becomes available a simple upgrade of the ZigBee component
within the system allows for rapid upgrading of the entire system to the new standard. The
transparent design, development and maintenance approaches to these new technologies also
allow for a better Plug and Play approach to modular system development.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2015.