What is the Internet of Nano Things (IoNT)?
What is the Internet of Nano Things (IoNT)?
The Internet of Nano Things (IoNT) is a convergent point where nanotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 meet. The premise of the IoNT is pretty simple, it is essentially a nanoscale version of the IoT. These areas also converge within sensors that can be used in conventional IoT systems, but the IoNT is the manifestation of a small-scale IoT systems that is ideal solution for remote environmental monitoring and medical applications.
To understand how IoNT systems work, we must first look at the conventional IoT systems that are now being put in place to create smarter sensor networks and more automated processes. The IoT is a collective of sensors networks, data collectors and transmitters that send data from multiple entry points through the cloud into a centralised location. Once all this data has been brought together in one place, advanced algorithms, artificial intelligence processes—such as machine learning, deep learning or artificial neural networks—analyse the data without human input and spot trends, patterns and anomalous data points by comparing historical data with the real-time data. This enables the IoT to be self-sufficient, without the need for human interaction, unless the system alerts an operator to a problem—which it finds through its analyses. The IoNT, in essence, is a miniaturised version of these systems which employ very small sensors and data network hubs to transmit data over long distances. As it stands, IoNT systems are not as well-developed as their IoT counterparts, but their ability to gather data using such small sensor points makes them useful for applications that are not compatible with other (bulkier) sensor networks.
So, how does an IoNT system work? Much like the IoT, there are various components within the IoNT network which communicate with each other to transfer the data over long distances. In IoNT systems, the different components communicate in two ways. These are through the transmission (and subsequent receiving) of electromagnetic waves and through molecular communication which uses information that has been stored and encoded within molecules. Given their small size, the initial sensor points can’t transfer the data as far as other IoT systems, so many of the smaller hubs which collect the data need to be near each other. But there are larger components which can transfer the data over long distances.
There are four basic components to an IoNT system. These are called the nano nodes, nano-routers, nano-micro interface devices, and gateways. The smallest component is the nano node. These are colloquial to sensors in conventional IoT networks and are essentially basic nanomachines. Because of their small size and small internal memory, the operations that they can perform are limited, as is the distance that they can transmit data. However, many nano nodes can be connected to one or more nano-routers—much like where sensors transmit the localised data to a localised hub before sending the information over long distances. Nano-routers are much larger than the nano nodes, and therefore possess a much higher computational power that enables them to collect and aggregate all the data from the surrounding nano nodes and transmit this data over long distances to the nano-micro interface device.
However, there is not just one nano-router in an IoNT system. Nano-routers exist where there are a collective of nano nodes. So, for example, in medical applications, nano nodes could be clustered in the chest and in the leg and a nano-router would be needed for each cluster. Similarly, for remote monitoring applications, any location that uses nano nodes will need its own independent nano-router. The nano-router controls the exchange of commands between each nano node before sending it to the nano-micro router. Once the data is at the nano-micro router, the date is converted to the microscale by using a combination of nano-communication methods and classical computing
protocols. Once here, the data is then controlled by the gateway, which allows the data to be accessed remotely using the internet.
So, the IoNT does show some similarities with how IoT systems operate, but the small size of the components means that some of the hubs need to be closer together. However, the smaller size will enable the manifestation of applications which are more suited to smaller scale systems.