The IoT without the Internet: 3 Use Cases

Yes, the Internet of Things without the Internet is a thing

Adam Dunkels, Thingsquare CEOBy Adam Dunkels, Thingsquare CEO – February 20, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) – in most cases – uses the Internet.

But, despite the name, the IoT does not actually require the Internet. As it turns out, the IoT without the Internet is possible.

In this article, we look at three reasons when the IoT without the Internet is needed:

  • When Internet access is not available
  • When you need deep data privacy
  • When you want your solution to run off the grid

The Internet of Things is more than the Internet

But … isn’t Internet of Things without the Internet just … things?

Not really.

The IoT gets its name from the Internet, but – strictly speaking – it does not need the Internet. Instead, think IoT as things that make use of the same technology as the Internet does.

The IoT is valuable even without the Internet.

As an example, let’s use an automated watering system for soil:

  • Actions: the IoT makes it possible to take programmable actions, for example turning off the water when the soil is wet enough
  • Intelligence: the IoT makes it possible to learn. for example, how much water the soil needs each day
  • Data: the IoT lets you keep track of the soil, then upload the data when an Internet connection is available
  • Interaction: users in the vicinity can interact with the soil sensor, even if the data stays put

Other examples of the Internet of Things systems that work well without the Internet:

  1. Lamps that save energy by turning themselves off when nobody is around
  2. Shelves in stores that notify staff when they go empty
  3. Office desks that know how popular they are

None of these need the Internet to do their job.

It is true that adding an Internet connection Internet may improve them. Usually by adding remote access. Or by collecting all the data, from many locations. But things work without it.

Let’s look at why you need IoT without the Internet:

1: When Internet Access is not Available

Sometimes the Internet just is not available. Then there is no choice – we have to go without the Internet.

Examples include:

  1. Farming, where there is so little people that there is no 3G/4G coverage
  2. Off-grid electricity production, using solar power
  3. Inside airplanes, which may not always be connected to the Internet because of regulatory reasons

And even when Internet access may be available, such as on airplanes, that access may be sporadic.

If the access is sporadic, you may as well plan for it as there is no access at all.

2: When You Need Deep Data Privacy

There are situations when the data privacy is so important that none of the data should leave the system:

  1. Medical systems, where regulators require data to never leave the building
  2. Highly secure facilities, where data leakage may facilitate bad guys
  3. Competing companies. Sometimes your competition is so fierce, that you just don’t want to risk it

3: When You Just Want Your Solution Off the Grid

Sometimes, the reason for running off the grid are non-technical.

It can be a selling point that your system does not need or use any Internet connection.

Maybe your customers do not want your system connected to the Internet. And maybe your competitors only have an Internet connected system, and you want to get a head start on them.

Or maybe you just don’t want that Internet connection.

Building an IoT Solution Without the Internet

In principle, building an IoT system without the Internet is simple: just place all the software outside of the Internet. But in practice, most IoT platforms have been designed around the fact that an Internet connection is always available.

We have designed the Thingsquare IoT platform so can be run without the Internet, and without the cloud. Read more in the article above.

This allows us to build robust and secure IoT solutions that do not require Internet access.

Interested in hearing how Thingsquare can help you build your next IoT solution? Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to schedule a demo!


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