How Important Is Timing for the IoT? | TechWell

How Important Is Timing for the IoT?

The Internet of Things is projected to connect just about everything, from everywhere. In a world where potentially billions of devices may be connected online, there’s much discussion on how critical strong security measures are in the development of IoT technologies. However, a new report produced by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), along with researchers in academia and industry, warns that a lack of effective timing signals could hamper future development of the IoT.

The concern is that many of the IoT applications may require precision timing in computers and networks that were originally designed to operate without that capability. Your toaster probably doesn’t require hyper-accurate timing, but what about a power grid or autonomous vehicles?

With that in mind, the NIST’s Cyber Physical Systems Public Working Group has a subgroup working on timing and synchronization standards and recommendations. According to one of the co-chairs, NIST’s Dr. Marc Weiss, “Imagine writing a letter to your friend saying it is now 2:30 p.m., and then sending it by snail mail so he can synchronize his watch with yours. That’s the equivalent of how accurate the timing of messages are in computers and systems right now. The transfer delay must be accounted for to do the things that are expected of the IoT.”

In the report the authors maintain, “Applications, computers, and communications systems have been developed with modules and layers that optimize data processing but degrade accurate timing. State-of-the-art systems now use timing only as a performance metric.”

The report discusses six areas in IoT systems with issues that will require further research: oscillators in the network, clock and oscillator designs, time and frequency transfer methods, the use of timing in networking and communications systems, hardware and software architecture, design environments, and the design of applications.

For more information, download “Time-Aware Applications, Computers, and Communication Systems.” 

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