Simplifying sensors – an update on PICMG Industrial IoT standards

Doug Sandy

“Simple is Hard”, so the saying goes. Reducing the essence of a complex idea or system into something that is readily understood and easy to use takes time, effort, and creativity. Never has this been truer than today’s push toward Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). While much progress has been made with cloud analytics and backend support, the sensor domain has remained largely impervious to change. With multitudes of different sensors, interfaces, and applications, standardization has been a
necessary but missing ingredient. Simplifying this problem is hard.
In 2019, the PICMG® standards organization, in collaboration with the DMTF®, launched two new industry specifications targeted at bringing plug-and-play to the sensor domain of IIoT. The first of these specifications focuses on a small hardware module that today’s sensor vendors can use to create smart sensor nodes. The second specification defines a network architecture and data model that ensures uniformity at the software level. Our aim is to enable and accelerate industrial smart sensor market by making their creation and deployment simple.

To date, PICMG made great strides toward the standardization of the sensor domain for Industrial IoT. The hardware technical subcommittee has defined the physical signals, communication interface, environmental conditions and started tackling the configuration and connector needs. The Network Architecture and Data Model technical subcommittee, on the other hand, has focused more on the overall network architecture, to enable sensor plug-and-play. We have created a framework for the architecture and behavior of the various elements and selected communications protocols.

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