Introduction.

Internet of Things is a new course, taught for the first time in A.Y. 2018/19. Lectures will be given on Fridays, from 2 pm till 5 pm, in the fall semester (Sept. 18 – Dec. 17, 2018), at the School of Engineering in Viale Risorgimento 2. It is taught in English.

It provides three credits, and a pass/fail outcome.

It is offered as an elective course to the third year students of the Bachelor degree in Electronics and Telecommunications. However, it can be taken by students enrolled in the Bachelor or Master degrees in ANY program in the area of information engineering: Telecommunications, Electronics, Automation, Automotive, Computer Science or Electrical Engineering. Additionally, students from Management Engineering can also opt for it. The contents of technical nature will be presented by means of tools/approaches that will require minimal background on wireless communications.

Teaching styles based on active learning, live discussion and inquiry based sessions, will be used.


Goals.

The student will be capable of identifying relevant and business-oriented applications of the IoT, the enabling wireless technologies and platforms, and predict network performance. Nine hours of team work will constitute a conceptual lab where ideas will be shared, compared and discussed under the supervision of the instructor.

In particular, the course addresses applications of the IoT world that have a network implication. The key topic is IoT network connectivity.

Assume you have conceived an IoT solution based on nodes made of i) an hardware/firmware/software platform equipped with ii) a set of sensors/actuators and iii) wireless connectivity, plus iv) an application that processes data and provides services to the end-user. How many nodes can the network based on the technology you identified support? Tens, thousands, billions?

The course addresses those IoT applications whose success depends on network scalability issues.

The scope of the course is therefore to provide fundamental knowledge of how a business idea in the field of IoT can be tested conceptually to proof its network scalability.

The course is intended for IoT makers, but it is about the steps to be taken BEFORE starting the development of the IoT platform: INVENT, CONCEIVE, DESIGN, ASSESS. The course includes group work and a conceptual laboratory (where ideas, concepts will be developed and tested, not software).


Course Eco-System.

Prospective makers will be given the chance to progress further, after the course, through Bachelor or Master theses oriented to the actual development of their ideas; this will be possible through the industry eco-system supporting the course: HW/SW platforms made available by the Radio Networks group at DEI and Embit srl, and the network infrastructure offered by a2a smart city.


Syllabus.

The course syllabus is split into five parts:

1) An introduction to the IoT (approximately three hours).

2) Fundamental theoretical tools for understanding the networking aspects of IoT applications. The analysis of IoT wireless networks will be approached through graph theory (approximately nine hours).

3) The steps to design a scalable IoT solution: from an idea to the identification of HW/SW/Network technologies useful/available to implement it, and to the assessment of its scalability in terms of network connectivity (approximately nine hours).

4) Use cases will be presented by companies active in the field of the IoT (three hours).

5) A conceptual lab based on group work: students will form groups of up to three members, will create their own solution, identify the technologies needed to implement it, and assess the potential scalability (approximately nine hours).

A detailed preliminary syllabus can be found here: IOT_syllabus.


Student Assessment: the Exam.

The exam will consist of a discussion of the outcomes of the group work. Students will provide a four-minute pitch simulating the proposal of an IoT startup; the pitch will describe the problem addressed (INVENT), the solution envisaged (CONCEIVE), the technologies identified (DESIGN), and will discuss the scalability of the solution (ASSESS). Immediately afterwards, the oral discussion will be related to all aspects analysed by the group to assess the scalability of the idea.


Reference Technologies and Application Domains.

The course will consider Zigbee and LoRaWAN as reference IoT technologies for connectivity. They will be introduced in a way that it can be useful for the non experts of radio communications.

The application domains of reference for the course are:

  • smart cities,
  • smart agriculture,
  • smart manufacturing.

More.

Students willing to go deeper on the topic might also choose Wireless Sensor Networks, a course taught by Prof. Chiara Buratti mostly of laboratory nature (for makers), and Radio Networks, more oriented to the fundamentals of theory.