IoT Lexicon

HERE IS a comprehensive dictionary of IoT terms, concepts and word definitions.

Term Definitions


AAA – Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (see also RADIUS).

ACaaS – Access Control as a Service.

Acceleration Sensing – A MEMS concept referring to the increase in movement of an object from one point to another along a straight line or axis. Typical applications include remote control, pointing devices, gesture recognition, fitness monitoring equipment, etc.

Access Point – A Wi-Fi node that allows users entry to a network, typically a LAN.

Actuator: A mechanism that performs a physical task based on input from a connected system.

Active Sensor – A sensing device that requires an external source of power to operate.

Advanced Encryption Standards – This is an electronic data encryption specification that has been the standard for IoT device transport layer security since 2001.

Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP): An open application layer protocol for message-oriented middleware with a focus on queuing, routing (P2P, PubSub), security, and reliability.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): ADAS (pronounced “ay-dazz”) is a catch-all term to describe various self-driving technologies.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES): AES is a 128-bit encryption standard that will secure the IoT devices of the future.

Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) – Intelligent systems to assist the elderly and others with daily care activities, often through IoT technology. Application fields are security (for example, observation), functionality (such as automated light switches), and even entertainment.

Ambient Intelligence (AmI) – Sensor-filled environments that interpret and react to human events and activity, and learning to adapt over time, the environment’s operation and services change based on that activity.

AMQP -Advance Message Queuing Protocol.

AMPS – Advanced Mobile Phone System, an analog cellular mobile system using FDMA.

Application Agents: Help address the lack of overhead for end-to-end, peer-to-peer networking in IoT architecture by their presence in the propagator nodes in an enterprise. They move intelligence to the edge of the network to help manage traffic, allow a real-time response to changing IoT conditions, and provide local client services.

Application Programming Interface – A method of expediting communication between computers and hardware/software platforms.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Artificial (or machine) intelligence refers to smart devices learning from external inputs and past experiences.

Arduino – A single-board microcontroller used for prototyping without having to deal with breadboards or soldering. The software to operate an Arduino is free and open source.

ARP – Address Resolution Protocol. A communication protocol used to convert an IP address into a physical address. This way, computers can communicate with each other, despite only knowing each other’s IP addresses, by sending an ARP request that informs them about the other computer’s MAC address.


Beacon Technology – This permits small network transmitters to interact with systems utilizing low-power Bluetooth. Apple’s version is called iBeacon.

Big Data – Large volumes of information, both structured and unstructured, collected from a massive number of sources and delivered at extremely rapid speed. This information is raw data that is used by analysts to devise better-informed strategies for businesses and other organizations. IoT is a huge source for Big Data.

Bluetooth: One of the typical wireless communication standards for IoT devices. Typical examples include smart watches, fitness bands, etc.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE): A wireless personal area network (PAN) aimed at devices with reduced power consumption and cost while maintaining a similar communication range to regular Bluetooth.


CAN Bus – A message-based, multi-master serial protocol for transmitting and receiving vehicle data within a Controller Area Network (CAN). Sometimes written as “CANbus,” the CAN Bus connects multiple Electronic Control Units (ECUs) also known as nodes. Designed initially for automotive applications in 1983, the CAN Bus can be adapted to aerospace, commercial vehicles, industrial automation, and medical […]

CDMA – Code Division Multiple Access. Digital cellular phone service method that separates multiple transmissions over a finite frequency allocation using Spread Spectrum techniques (concept invented and patented by Hedy Lamar).

Chirps: Lighter, purpose-built protocols that allow the “things” in IoT to communicate and interchange. Built for machine-to-machine communication, they are efficient, extensible data frames that have an open-source structure, private data fields, and a simple checksum.

Cloud Computing – Remote servers connected via a network and used for data storage, processing, and management, instead of relying on a local, in-house physical server.

Competing Consumers: A messaging pattern in which more consumers get messages from a common source (i.e. queue), but each message is delivered to only one consumer.

Connected Devices: Components that make up the Internet of Things. Many have built-in sensors and/or actuators and collect data to help users or other devices make informed decisions and monitor or affect outside events.

Connected Home – If the devices in a house work interactively and information relevant to residents is accessed via high-speed broadband, it could be called a connected home. This may mean that the refrigerator reports the almost empty milk or that the TV reminds you of your doctor’s appointment because it automatically gets this information from the doctor’s […]

Connectivity Protection: A part of the Edge Layer that serves to ensure that device connectivity doesn’t fail if there is a network failure or an unreliable connection.

Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP): An application layer protocol used in resource-constrained devices that allows Internet connectivity and remote control.


Data Filtration: A part of the Edge Layer that reduces the amount of transmitted information, but retains the meaning of it.

Device-Agnostic Control: Part of the Edge Layer that provides site abstraction to allow the server and/or cloud application to be agnostic to the device implementation it controls.

Datakinesis – A termed coined by Marc Blackmer, datakinesis occurs when an action taken in cyberspace has a result in the physical world. Industrial Control Systems, for example, are vulnerable to datakinetic attacks where physical equipment such as valves and sensors are compromised and damaged by hackers. Stuxnet is one such example.

Direct Messaging: A messaging mechanism in which the sender and receiver are directly connected or can exchange messages through one or more intermediate hops, which do not take ownership of each message but just forward it (routing).

Drone: Flying objects that connect remotely with control units through on-board sensors and GPS.


Edge Gateway: The connecting factor between device analytics and cloud data processing and analytics

Edge Computing: Edge computing is useful for far-flung IoT networks. This happens closer to the device source, called the “edge” rather than a central cloud.

Edge Layer: An architectural shift in IoT that breaks the norm of the traditional client-server model. This is the first layer of connectivity for devices to connect to before going to the server. Responsible for the local connectivity of devices and for managing the data collection and connection to this server.

Embedded Device/Systems: A computer with a dedicated function within a larger mechanical or electrical system; it is embedded as part of a complete device.

Endpoint Device: An Internet-capable device on a TCP/IP network.

Embedded Software – The computer software that controls hardware devices and systems that are not usually considered computers, like a smart refrigerator, for instance.


Firmware-Over-The-Air – Also known as FOTA, this technology allows the remote wireless installation, repair, and upgrading of software and services on mobile devices.

Fleet Management: In IoT terms fleet management deals with concepts such as automatic vehicle tracking.

Fog Computing: A very close relation to “edge” computing, Fog computing decentralizes the computing of big data at local area networks (LAN). Understandably, there is a lot of overlap between “fog” and “edge” layers.

Flow-Based Programming: A type of programming that defines applications as networks of process that exchange data across defined connections by message-passing, where the connections are specified externally to the processes.

Fog Computing or Fogging – Also known as fogging, this is a distributed computing infrastructure in which some application services are handled at the network edge in a smart device and some application services are handled in a remote data center — in the cloud.


Gateway – This is any device that gathers information from various network points and sends that information on to another network.

Geofencing: A technology that creates virtual boundaries around a physical area in order to trigger an action on a connected device, usually through a combination of GPS and RFID tags.

Global Navigation Satellite System – The GNSS is any satellite navigation system that offers autonomous geo-spatial positioning, timing, and navigation, either by region or globally.


Haze Computing: A dynamic model for analytics applications wherein an application at the data source analyzes a pooled view of resources for the local and global compute available across the cloud, edge, and device layers. This information informs how and where data analytics take place.

Home Automation: A combination of hardware and software solutions that allow for the control and management of electronics, appliances, and devices within a home.


iBeacon (or Beacon Technology): A small network transmitter used to identify, track, and interact with connected systems using Bluetooth low energy. iBeacon is an Apple trademark, but it is also available on Android devices.

Industrial Internet: The integration of machine learning, big data technology, sensor data, and machine-to-machine communication automation. This is done with the knowledge that the Internet of Things will be scaled and driven by enterprises. The idea is that smart machines can more accurately capture and communicate data to help corporations find problems sooner and increase overall efficiency.

Industrial IoT – This is the means for machines and industrial applications to have real-time communication with each other (M2M). This will probably be what brings SkyNet online.

Integrator: The “tree trunk” of network architecture that performs the big data functions to provide a higher-level analysis of human interaction for near-edge analytics and broader-scope analysis and control.

Internet of Things (IoT): A network of objects (such as sensors and actuators) that can capture data autonomously and self-configure intelligently based on physical world events, allowing these systems to become active participants in various public, commercial, scientific, and personal processes.

IoE: It means “Internet of Everything”. Apparently, many people consider this term a marketing gimmick.

Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP): The language a computer uses to access theInternet. It consists of a suite of protocols designed to establish a network of networks to provide a host with access to the Internet.

IoT Cloud Platform: A cloud platform that provides a set of services that simplify the integration process between the services provided by cloud platforms and IoT devices. Some platforms include development tools and data analytics capabilities.

IoT Development Board: A board that can be used to prototype and create IoT hardware. There are several boards available on the market with different features.


Link Budget – This is a telecommunication system jargon that describes an accounting of all of the gains and losses going from a transmitter, passing through the medium, and ending up at the receiver.

Lightweight Protocol: Any protocol that has a lesser and leaner payload when being used and transmitted over a network connection.

Long Range Communication Protocols: Used to refer to universal long-range radio frequencies for multi-generation wireless standards such as 2G, 3G, 4G, and4G LTE.

Lora Protocol – A long range digital wireless communication technique to facilitate IoT and M2M communications.

LoRaWAN: Long Range Wireless Area Networks help in distant transfer of data between low power devices. It’s managed by LoRa Alliance for IIoT applications.

Low-Power Devices: Electronics that have been designed to use less electric power than traditional devices. These are necessary to the future success of IoT because, as sensors become more advanced, devices need to be able to operate for longer periods of time without relying on manual maintenance or loss of data.

Low-Power Wide-Area – A network offering a low range and low power consumption, used primarily for M2M communications.

Low-Power Wireless Sensor Network – A collection of scattered, independent devices that measure environmental or physical conditions, all without significant power consumption.

LTE-M – A more power-efficient standard for machine communications.


Machine-to-Machine (M2M): This refers to a network setup that allows connected devices to communicate freely, usually between a large number of devices; M2M often refers to the use of distributed systems in industrial and manufacturing applications.

Media Access Control – A data link layer (DLL) sublayer transmits data packets to and from a network interface card.

Mesh Network: A type of network topology in which a device transmits its own data and also serves as a relay for other nodes by providing the most efficient data path through routers.

Microcontroller (MCU): A small computer on a single integrated circuit designed for embedded applications and used in automatically controlled embedded systems.

Messaging Protocols: The way information is transferred and communicated amongst devices, the cloud, and data storage. Different protocols are used for different results.

Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT): A lightweight messaging protocol that runs on the TCP/IP protocol. It is designed for communicating with small devices in remote locations with low network bandwidth.

NB-IoT – This stands for Narrow Band IoT and is used as a convenient, cost-effective means of expanding IoT into a whole new series of devices and everyday household items. This is a low-power, wide-area technology, and will be instrumental in increasing the scope of IoT in the years to come.

Mobile IoT – Low power, wide area devices used in conjunction with mobile devices interfacing with IoT networks.

Multi-Agent System: A network of multiple agents which act in an environment and interact or communicate with each other to achieve their design objective.


Near-Field Communication (NFC): A feature based on technical standards that allows devices to establish radio communication with other nearby systems or mobile devices.


Operability: Operability is the measure of how well a software system works when operating in production, whether that is the public cloud, a co-located datacenter, an embedded system, or a remote sensor forming part of an IoT network.


Personal Area Network: A network created through the interconnection of information technology devices within the context of a single user.

Propagator: The “leaves” of the network architecture tree that are serviced by intermediate branch network elements. They manage message routing protocol translation services.


Quality of Service – A measurement of how well a network supports IT connectivity. This covers elements such as transmission delays, availability of connections, and data loss.


Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): A technology that incorporates electromagnetic coupling and radio frequency to identify objects and persons. It consists of three components: an antenna, transceiver, and transponder.

Real-Time Operating System (RTOS): Designed to guarantee the completion of a task within a certain time constraint. Often used in safety-critical systems and when building IoT devices.

Releasability: The ability to quickly deploy changes to a software system, but also to quickly recover from disaster and adapt to changing technical and business challenges.

Repeater – A device used to extend network range by receiving a digital signal and re-transmitting it.

RF Geolocation – Otherwise known as using a radio transceiver to find another radio transceiver. The classic example of this is the ever-popular GPS, found in many models of cars.


Sensor: A device or component that perceives and responds to physical input from the environment.

Sensor Network: A group of sensors with a communications infrastructure intended to monitor and collect data from multiple locations.

Single-Board Computer: A complete computer built on a single circuit board with all the components required of a functional computer.

Site-Level Management: Allows site-level arrangement across devices from different vendors using dissimilar protocols.

Smart Meter – A device used by utility companies to collect information about energy consumption (e.g., electricity, natural gas, water), and transmit the data back to the company or even to the consumer.

Software-Defined Network – A network method that reassigns information flow control from hardware in favor of a software controller.

Store and Forward: A messaging mechanism in which a broker is involved between sender and receiver so that the broker gets ownership of the message from the sender, stores it for reliability, and then delivers the message itself to the receiver.

System on a Chip: An integrated chip that is comprised of electronic circuits of multiple computer components to create a complete device.


Telematics – A computer system designed for long-distance data transmissions, the most ubiquitous example being GPS and satellite radio tech installed in automobiles.

Thread: Google’s usage of 6LoWPAN technology for Google family products and other partners.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP): A basic client/server model communication protocol for the Internet and private networks.


Ubiquitous Computing: A method of enhancing computer use by making several computers available throughout a physical environment, but making them effectively invisible to the user.

Ultra-Wide Band – The UWB is a weak signal sent over a wide frequency and is employed mostly as a localizing signal and distance measurement.


Wearables: Connected devices that can be equipped with different types of sensors and are worn on a person’s body. They are meant to monitor, collect, and quantify data about a person’s life and environment, and allow them to interface with that data.

Wi-Fi: A wireless local area network (WLAN) that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed Internet and network connections.


ZigBee: An open standard for wireless communication designed to use low-power digital radio signals for personal area networks (PAN); it is used to create networks that require a low data transfer rate, energy efficiency, and secure networking.

Z-Wave: A wireless protocol for home automation that communicates using a low-power radio frequency technology specifically designed for remote control applications.