What is Device Mesh?
Internet of Thing (IoT) has become a great technological breakthrough by connecting millions of internet-enabled devices to the World Wide Web. Conventionally, before IoT, fewer endpoints were connected to the Internet including mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Rise of IoT allowed connecting more devices to the Internet including refrigerators, thermostats, vehicle sensors, smart home devices, traffic lights, wearables, etc. This highly connected nature of devices enables a new form of ad hoc network called Device Mesh. This concept first introduced by Gartner, a research company, as a new big thing in connected IT ecosystems and they defined it as ”The device mesh is an expanding set of endpoints—mobile, wearable, consumer, home electronics, automotive and environmental devices, including sensors in the Internet of Things—that people and businesses will use to reach applications and information or interact with others”. But it is not just adding more devices to networks. Instead of sending data that generate within the network to the centralized database, in device mesh, devices also can communicate with each other by using apps. Before device mesh, devices are connected to the Internet, they are on an isolated state and users need to open up the apps and give commands in order to invoke the functions of those apps. But, in the device mesh environment, when your device is on, apps are running in the background and they autonomously start to work together with other devices. Therefore, we can recognize the device mesh as a more advanced form of Internet of Things architecture. With these functionalities, Gartner suggests that device mesh enters the post-app era where devices cooperate invisibly with each other through background running apps.
Maintaining continuous connectivity between the user-device and device-device is one of the primary objectives of the device mesh approach. For instance, a device mesh can be built between users and devices as follows, smart home devices can be connected to the person’s tablet, and then a connection is established between the tablet and his vehicle. Again tablet can be connected to the workplace server and to his personal smartphone, finally, the smartphone connects to his fitness tracker device. In this type of device mesh, the person always connects with his surroundings and aware of what’s going on around him. Since devices share information with each other, it is possible for some apps to make decisions autonomously whenever necessary. For instance, if your smart fridge sends the current status of food items to the tablet, relevant app in the tablet is capable of ordering the food online from the supermarket. In a work environment, if it is possible to maintain continuous interactivity between all devices, highly optimized workflow can be expected. For instance, Airbuses consists of hundreds of sensors which are fixed to every part of the plane. If a part of plane malfunctioned, sensors which are fixed to that part will send the information immediately to the maintenance engineer’s device. Since every device and sensors are connected to the device mesh, a maintenance engineer can easily find the fault and fix it. If that part needs to be replaced, the ordering process is triggered and the engineer will be notified again once that part is received to the workshop.
For organizations, device mesh architecture can be used to make a positive impact on user experience and improve the productivity of business processes. Structure of device meshes can vary depending on the function of organizations. More connected devices cause to generate a large amount of data. Technically, these data can be either structured or unstructured and can be categorized as big data. By analyzing these big data, organizations can make smart management decisions and maximize business potentials. Also, the device mesh would change the employees’ approach to handling business processes. This shows that device meshes not only forgive ambient user experience for end users, it also could be advantageous for organizations related to information technology, education, healthcare, government, etc.
Image source: http://innovacion.uas.edu.mx
Device mesh is still an evolving technology and it will develop further with the advancement of network connectivity and use of more high tech devices.
Impact of Device Mesh
As any new technological innovation does, device mesh also changes the way of how individuals’ interact with the digital world and how large organizations adapt it to provide better service to their customers. Employees’ approach to the workflow also can be changed with the introduction of innovative stuff such as internet-enabled wearables, digital smart assistance, smart cars, etc. This new dynamic and intelligent implements streamline business processes and lessen the gap between business and customers. Big tech companies like Google, have already entered this new platform by introducing the new concept like Android Auto which facilitates to establish the connectivity between a smartphone and car display. Android Auto mirrors the functions of a smartphone to the driver friendly display and allows to perform the task easily including GPS navigation, text messaging, music playback, etc. By connecting smart home appliances to smartphones, users can monitor the real-time situation at home, then take necessary actions while driving the car. Fitness tracker devices can track the body temperature of a person and sync that data with the smartphone, then the smartphone can forward them to the thermostat, then it can adjust the temperature based on that reading. Likewise, companies can use wearables to track people’s behavioral patterns, activities, and places they visit and provide services based on that information.
Though the device mesh approach offers ambient user experience and vast business opportunities for organizations, it still arises considerable privacy and security concerns. In device mesh, a large number of devices from different manufacturers are interconnected and they run on different computing platforms. Sometimes your Fitbit fitness tracker has to sync with your iPhone and the iPhone has to link with the Ecobee4 thermostat. This complex nature of device mesh could lead to management difficulties and vulnerable to network security threats including malware attacks, phishing attacks, data breaches, etc. But on the upside, by automating the day to day work, device mesh technology would improve the quality of lifestyle.