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  • Reimagining Research 2018

    The Internet of Things (IoT ) is a disruptive technology with great potential. It also brings technical complexity. IoT applications must seek to create seamless and secure experiences in life, and at work, for the end-user. The success of IoT depends critically on the availability of fit-for-purpose end applications.

    The focus of TCS research was therefore to enable creation, deployment, and administration of high quality IoT applications. The key stakeholder for us was the application developer and the goal was to provide necessary platforms and tools for the application developer and architect. We built the TCS Connected Universe Platform with a suite of services and basic building blocks. We also baked in the right kind of engineering properties to meet the needs of enterprise-grade applications. But we were faced with some tough choices along the way!

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    The Internet of Things (IoT) is a disruptor with many impact dimensions. For many businesses, the possibility of smart products gives the opportunity to create new business models, requiring fundamentally new designs and strategies. For large manufacturers, IoT accelerates servitization of products; they can stay connected with their product even after it leaves the shop floor and provide services around it. IoT can drive operational efficiencies in almost every sphere: visibility through the supply chain, monitoring of devices and optimization of resources/allocation around these, proactive maintenance, and more. For an individual, IoT can bring personalization of services, creating

    much value in areas such as health and safety.

    TCS’ IoT journey began 15 years ago. It began in the realm of radio- frequency identification (RFID). It continued through ubiquitous computing, which was deemed a leap from mobility. For more than a decade now, we have been investing in significant research effort on many aspects of IoT.

    Focus on IoT applications

    We had an early realization that the success of IoT and its benefit to end-users would critically depend on availability of fit-for-purpose end applications. IoT applications

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    The Connected Universe Digitization of Society Using The Internet of Things

    Reimagining Research 2018

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  • The Connected Universe

    Fact File

    TCS Research: Internet of Things

    Outcomes: Internet of Things Platform

    Principal Investigator: Prateep Misra

    Academic Partners: None

    Techniques used: Cloud computing, Embedded Systems, Web technologies, Stream Processing, Big Data

    Industries benefited: Manufacturing, Utilities, Energy & Resources, Transportation, Life Science, Healthcare, HiTech, Retail

    Patents: 6 filed, 4 granted

    Papers: 4

    are meant to deliver the desired service and user experience to the end-user, while abstracting all the complexities of the underlying technology. For the end-user, IoT technology is seamless and hidden and is an integral part of the user’s life, work, or environment. Our focus of research was therefore to enable creation, deployment, and administration of high-quality IoT applications. The key stakeholder for us was the application developer and the goal was to provide necessary platforms and tools for the application developer and architect.1

    What IoT applications need to achieve

    The most common goals of IoT applications can be summarized and grouped under the following abstract buckets.

    Real world visibility: IoT applications need to get visibility into what is happening in the real world. Visibility is achieved using sensors that observe the real world,

    and transmission and telemetry of these observations from the real world to the servers/computers hosting the IoT applications. Visibility into what is happening now as well as what has happened in the past is needed.

    Understanding the real world: IoT applications need to build models of the real world. Once the models are built, these can be used to predict future possible scenarios as well as infer or estimate those parts of the real world that cannot be sensed or observed otherwise. Building models requires both current observation data as well as past data. Data acquisition and data engineering are prerequisites for building models.

    Changing the world: Once the real world is understood and modeled, IoT applications try to steer the real world toward some desired states. These are achieved by sending commands or signals to systems, plants, and actuators so that they can effect some changes in the physical world.

    1 Tata Consultancy Services, Unlocking the Value of the Internet of Things (IoT) – A Platform Approach, 2014.

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  • Reimagining Research 2018

    Building blocks of an IoT application

    In order to achieve these goals, the following functional blocks are common in IoT applications.

    Data ingestion: Applications need to acquire data from devices and sensors attached to the physical world. The ability to interface with various heterogeneous edge devices, understand the structure and semantics of the ingested data, and transform the same to usable formats is the first step in any IoT application.

    Data management: Once data is captured, it needs to be persisted in appropriate databases, along with all the necessary metadata, so that it can be queried for visualization, reporting, and model building at any point in time.

    Real time analytics: Data from the physical world needs to be

    processed, filtered, transformed, joined, and analyzed in real-time even before it is persisted in a database. Situations and conditions, and interesting patterns in streaming data, need to be acted upon as they happen.

    Device management: The devices that are attached to the physical world need to be monitored, managed, updated, secured, and queried.

    Analytical model building and model execution: Using data captured and stored within the applications, analytical models need to be built. The models, once built, can be used for descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytical tasks. These tasks consist of software programs that typically run on stored data, either periodically or on event-driven basis.

    TCS Connected

    Universe Platform

    ENERGY Smart Metering, Home

    Energy Management, Wind Turbines speed

    Forecasting

    RETAIL Store loT, Smart Badge,

    Mobile PoS Solutions, Remote Diagnostics &

    Management

    HEALTHCARE Wellness,

    Cardiac Device Diagnosis, Healthcare Equipment Monitoring

    INSURANCE Connected Auto, Driving Behaviour Analysis, Connected Smart Home

    INFRASTRUCTURE Smart City Service, Cross-Vertical Applications

    ENVIRONMENT & FARMING mKrishi - Soil Monitoring and Tracking, Agriculture Advisory Solutions

    INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION Remote Asset Monitoring Solution for Air Chiller, Pump Monitoring, Pipelines

    TRANSPORTATION Fleet Management, Tracking, Rail Operation Optimization,

    Logistics, Infotainment

    Figure 1: TCS explores the value of Internet of Things with applications for every industry

    Interfacing with heterogeneous

    devices, understanding the ingested data, and transforming it for

    use, are the first steps in any IoT

    application.

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  • The Connected Universe

    The connected universe platform

    Based on our understanding of IoT applications and their requirements, we started building a platform that would provide a suite of services to lay the basic building blocks. The objective was to provide these services through well-defined interfaces or APIs. The APIs would encapsulate all unnecessary details of technology and implementation. The APIs would be such that they could be called from any computing platform using any programming language.

    We called this platform the TCS Connected Universe Platform (TCUP).2

    The services of the platform were designed in the form of a collection of micro-services. The micro-services were designed in such a way that they were self-contained, independently developed and deployed, and not dependent on any other micro-service. Each micro-service could be used independently and could be stitched together by an application, to create more complex functionality.

    Mobile Devices

    Device Agents

    Sensor Data Management

    Device Management

    Analytics

    Message Routing & Rule Engine

    Apps

    Developers

    Clients

    Portals

    Enterprise Apps

    LWM2M

    Gateway Devices Cloud Services

    Things with Embeded Sensors

    http(s),tcp, udp, mqtt, OPC-UA, Modbus, Continua

    Figure 2: Architecture of the TCS Connected Universe Platform

    2 Tata Consultancy Services, TCS Connected Universe Platform, 2017.

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  • Reimagining Research 2018

    Making it work in the real world

    Our intention, right from the beginning, was to engineer the platform in such a way that it would meet the requirements of TCS’ enterprise customers. The right kind of Engineering properties needed to meet the needs of enterprise

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