Advances in Internet of Things, 2011, 1, 27-31
doi:10.4236/ait.2011.12004 Published Online July 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. AIT
Internet of Things: Services and Applications
Matthew Gigli, Simon Koo
Department of Mat hematics and Computer S c i ence , University of San Diego, San Diego, USA
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science University of San Diego San Diego, USA
E-mail:, koo@sandieg
Received June 23, 20 1 1; revised July 11, 2011; accepted July 18, 2011
In this paper we attempt to categorize the services provided by the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to help
application developers build upon a base service. First we introduce the four main categories of services, and
then follow by providing a number of examples of each of the service categories so as to provide an example
of how each type of service might be implemented, and how it can be used to build an IoT application.
1. Introduction
The Internet can be described as a ubiquitous infrastruc-
ture that has evolved from being a technology for con-
necting people and places to a technology connecting
things. The future is the Internet of Things (IoT), which
aims to unify everything in our world under a common
infrastructure, giving us not only control of the things
around us, but also keeping us informed of the state of the
things around us.
One of the main problems with IoT is that it is so vast
and such a broad concept that there is no proposed, uni-
form architecture. In order for the idea of IoT to work, it
must consist of an assortment of sensor, network, com-
munications and computing technologies, amongst others.
But when you start putting together different types of
technologies, the problem of interoperability arises. One
proposed solution is to adopt the standards of the ser-
vices-oriented architecture (SOA) deployed in business
software systems [1]. Another takes a similar approach,
suggesting the integration of Web Services into sensor
network with the use of IoT optimized gateways, which
would bridge the gap between the network and the termi-
nal [2]. In general, it may be beneficial to incorporate a
number of the technologies of IoT with the use of ser-
vices that can act as the bridge between each of these
technologies and the applications that developers wish to
implement in IoT. This paper breaks down four main
categories of services according to technical features, as
proposed and described by [3]. In categorizing IoT ser-
vices, we aim to provide application developers a starting
point, giving them something to build upon so that they
know the types of services that are available. This will
allow them to focus more on the application instead of
designing the services and architectures required to sup-
port their IoT application.
2. Types of Services
There are an exceptional number of applications that can
make use of the Internet of Things, from home and office
automation to production line and retail product tracking.
The number of applications is endless. For each applica-
tion, a particular IoT service can be applied in order to
optimize application development and speed up applica-
tion implementation. Note that the categorizations that
follow come from [3].
2.1. Identity-Related Services
Identity-related services can be divided into two catego-
ries, active and passive, and can serve either individuals
or enterprise, which can lead to a number of different
kinds of applications.
The general identity-related service consists of two
major components: 1) the things, all of which are
equipped with some kind of identification identifier, such
as an RFID tag; and 2) the read device(s), which read the
identity of the thing based on its label, in this case reading
the information encoded into the RFID tag. The read de-
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. AIT
vice would then make a request to the name resolution
server to access more detailed information about that par-
ticular device.
Active identity-related services are services that
broadcast information, and are usually associated with
having constant power, or at least under battery power.
Passive identity-related services are services that have no
power source and require some external device or mecha-
nism in order to pass on its identity. For example, an ac-
tive RFID tag is battery powered an d can transmit signals
once an external source has been identified. A passive
RFID tag, on the other hand, has no batteries, and re-
quires an external electromagnetic field in order to initiat e
a signal transmission. In general, active identity services
can transmit or actively send their information to another
device, whereas passive services must be read from .
2.2. Information Aggregation Services
Information aggregation services refer to the process of
acquiring data from various sensors, processing the data,
and transmitting and reporting that data via IoT to the
application. These types of services can be thought of,
more or less, as one way: information is collected and
sent via the network to the application for processi ng.
Information aggregation services do not have to im-
plement a single type of communication channel in order
to work together. With the use of access gateways (Fig-
ure 1), an information aggregation service could make
use of different types of sensors and network devices and
share their data via a common service to the application.
For example, an application could make use of RFID
tags to be aware of the identity of some devices, while
also using a ZigBee network to collect data from sensors,
then use a gateway device to relay this informatio n to the
application under the same service, say a Web Service
such as JSON or XML. Not only would this allow a de-
veloper of an application to incorporate a number of dif-
ferent technologies into the application, but it could also
allow the application to access various IT and enterprise
services that may already be in place.
2.3. Collaborative-Aware Services
Collaborative aware services are services that use aggre-
gated data to make decisions, and based on those deci-
sions perform an action. As IoT takes shape, it should
bring about the development of complicated services that
make use of all of the data that can be retrieved from the
extensive network of sensors. This will require not only
being able to retrieve information, but to relay back re-
sponses to the collected information to perform actions.
These services will thus req uire “terminal-to -terminal” as
well as “terminal-to-person” communication. By provid-
ing collaborative aware services, the IoT infrastructure
naturally requires greater reliability and speed, and will
require the terminals to either have more processing
power or be lin ked wi t h some other device that does.
2.4. Ubiquitous Services
Ubiquitous services are the epitome of the Internet of
Things. A ubiquitous service would not only be a col-
laborative aware service, but it would be a collaborative
Figure 1. Aggregate Network diagram with sensor network and access gateways.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. AIT
aware service for everyone, everything, at all times. In
order for IoT to reach the level of providing ubiquitous
services, it would have to overcome the barrier of proto-
col distinctions amongst technologies and unify every
aspect of the network. There is no particular system ar-
chitecture for the Internet of Things, but there have been
numerous papers written about the use of Web Services
or REST (representational state transfer) APIs (applica-
tion programming interfaces) to unite loosely coupled
things on the Internet under a single application so that
they can be reused and shared. IPv6 is also a protocol that
could greatly benefit the increase in ubiquitous services.
Reference [4] proposes such an architecture that, if im-
plemented, wo ul d be considered a ubiquitous service.
3. Applications of IoT Services
Moving past what each of the categories means, the fol-
lowing subsections provide examples of each type of ser-
vice in an attempt to offer developers a starting point
when developing their own application. The idea is to
provide a series of examples for each service type that use
a common technologies so as to provide a basic frame-
work to build an application upon a specific type of ser-
3.1. Identity-Related Services
Identity-related services are the most simple, yet maybe
one of the most important, services to be provided to an
application of the Internet of Things. Applying an iden-
tity-related service to an application provides the devel-
oper with vital information about every device, or every
thing, in their application.
The most prominent technology used in identity-related
services is RFID. RFID is a technology that enables data
to be transmitted by a tiny portable device, called a tag,
which is read by an RFID reader and is processed ac-
cording to the needs of that particular application. RFID
provides an upgrade from the traditional form of device
identification: barcode scanning. RFID is more versatile
because it does not require line of sight transmission, and,
in the case of active RFID tags, can transmit its data as
opposed to simply just bei ng r ead by a reader devi ce.
Most IoT applications that are aimed at providing an
identity-related service make use of RFID technology. As
described in [5], the RFID tag stores an identification
code unique to that device. The RFID reader reads that
code, and looks up the device in the RFID server, which
then returns the detail information require by the applica-
Production and shipping are two common applications
that would benefit gr eatly from the use of an id entity ser-
vice. Another application that uses an identity-related
service describes a model that can solve the information
asymmetry problem in supply chain management and
supply chain in formation transm i ssi on [6].
Every IoT application will either be based on, or at
least incorporate some instance of, an identity-related
service. This is because for the IoT to incorporate every-
thing in th e physical world to the dig ital world, the appli-
cation will need to be able to identify all of the devices
that are connected.
3.2. Information Aggregation Services
Information aggregation services incorporate identity
related services, along with other components such as
WSNs, and access gateways to collect information and
forward it to the application fo r processing. The informa-
tion aggregation service is just responsible for providing
the application with all o f th e information th at is collected ,
and potentially processed along the way, from the termi-
nals of the system (sensors, RFID tags, etc.). In this re-
gard, the WSN can be a powerful tool for collecting and
communicating data between terminals and the platform
(host of application), as long as the platform is within
range of the WSN. But this would not be an IoT applica-
tion on its own; an IoT application would consist of mul-
tiple WSNs all configured to work together to provide
information about the world around them. The link be-
tween these networks is an access gateway. The general
structure of this network is shown in Figure 2. Each ac-
cess gateway in the IoT network will have access to the
database server, thus every device would be connected
and information from the entire network aggregated at the
database server.
There are a number of applications out there that make
use of information aggregation services and access gate-
ways. In [7], the importance of extending the information
aggregation service to beyond the WSN is proposed by
using a cellular network (CN) to extend the range of the
WSN. The idea is that if a ter minal is o utsid e of the W SN
of interest, it uses CN resources to access that information
Device RFID
Gate way
Figure 2. RFID network example.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. AIT
through the use of an “IoT gateway,” which essentially
implement s both WSN an d CN resources.
Information aggregation services are useful in moni-
toring situations, such as energy monitoring in the house
and in the enterprise, or, if the Internet of Things has
been realized, monitoring of anything, anywhere. For
example, [7] introduces a monitoring and control system
for use in an agriculture greenhouse production envi-
ronment. The system measures and records critical tem-
perature, humidity and soil signals which is then trans-
mitted through the network to the platform for process-
ing. Another application [8] uses a ZigBee WSN to
monitor physiological data of patients that automatically
generates electronic medical records.
3.3. Collaborative-Aware Services
The key difference between information aggregation ser-
vices and collaborative-aware services are the use of the
data collected to make decisions and perform actions. As
mentioned before, the keys to creating a collabora-
tive-aware service are network security, speed, and ter-
minal processing power. Terminals can no longer be just
simple sensors that collect information, or if there are
simple sensors in the network, there must be separate
embedded devices within the network that can make use
of the data.
There are fewer applications published in terms of IoT
and collaborative-aware services. We can, however, at-
tempt to apply new technologies to a collaborative-aware
service. An example of a new technology that will help
shape the way the Internet of Things grows is IPv6. IPv6
is a new version of the Internet Protocol (IP) that allows
for a significantly greater number of addressable devices
to be connected to the internet. Although the use of IPv6
has had a slow start, it i s defini t ely the int ernet prot ocol of
the future due to the lack o f available IP addresses. Mov-
ing forward, one of the most important factors in IoT be-
coming reality is being able to address each of the em-
bedded devices in the world, which converting to IPv6
would allow. Reference [9] offers a number of applica-
tions for IoT, many of which could be considered col-
laborative-aware services, or which could at least provide
a baseline for such a service. They propose integrating
every object into th e IP infrastructu r e using both IPv6 an d
6LoWPAN, which is the use of IPv6 over low power
wireless personal area networks. They propose a network
with three types of nodes, all of which can be repro-
grammed to function as any of the three types. The three
types essentially are a base station node (IPv6 router), a
mobile node (wireless dongle that allows WSN connec-
tivity to a standard laptop) and specialized nodes, which
are used for specialized tasks. This becomes a collabora-
tive-aware service because it incorporates terminal-ter-
minal and terminal-person communication, which is ac-
complished due t o the use o f t he IP v6 protocol.
3.4. Ubiquitous Services
Ubiquitous services are the ultimate goal of the Internet
of Things, taking collaborative-aware services to the next
level by providing complete access and control of every-
thing around us, whether it is through a computer or a
mobile phone or something else.
Ubiquitous services h ave yet to be realized in th e world
today, but most research in IoT is ultimately aimed at
providing some piece to the puzzle that will ultimately be
ubiquitous services. Reference [4] first talks about why
the Internet of Things is so difficult to realiz e. One of the
biggest hurdles for IoT is having a single architecture that
allows the many different application layer standards to
communicate and interoperate. Reference [4] proposes an
architecture, based on RESTful services, in which a uni-
versal API would be created so that everyone who creates
devices to be used in the Internet of Things has an archi-
tecture to adopt in order to be interoperable with the rest
of the world’s devices.
4. Conclusions
This paper outlined the four main categories of services
of the Internet of Things and attempted to provide some
examples of each in order to give the developer of an IoT
application a starting point for his application. Many
people are using Web Services and access gateways in
order to interface with the terminals, while others are
moving towards the use of IPv6, which will allow for
more devices to be connected directly to the internet and
be IP addressable, as opposed to being a part of some
subnetwork that is connected to the internet through a
gateway. Overall, there is still much work to be done in
IoT, specifically in finding a way to incorporate all o f the
services into an omnipresent, omnipotent service aimed
at delivering communication anytime, anywhere, for
anybody, and for everything.
5. References
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Baecker, L. M. Sa de Souza and V. Trifa, “SOA-Based
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Society, Washington, DC, 2009, pp. 968-975.
[2] T. Ridel, N. Fantana, A. Genaid, D. Yordanov, H. R.
Schmidtke and M. Biegl, “Using Web Service Gateways
and Code Generation for Sustainable IoT System
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. AIT
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December 2010, pp.1-8.
[3] X. J. Xing, J. L. Wang and M. D. Li, “Services and Key
Technologies of the Internet of Things,” ZTE
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[4] D. Guinard, “Towards Opportunistic Applications in a
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[6] B. Yan and G. W. Huang, “Supply Chain Information
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