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We have witnessed the Fixed Internet emerging with virtually every computer being connected today; we are currently witnessing the emergence of the Mobile Internet with the exponential explosion of smart phones, tablets and net-books. However, both will be dwarfed by the anticipated emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), in which everyday objects are able to connect to the Internet, tweet or be queried. Whilst the impact onto economies and societies around the world is undisputed, the technologies facilitating such a ubiquitous connectivity have struggled so far and only recently commenced to take shape. To this end, this paper introduces in a timely manner and for the first time the wireless communications stack the industry believes to meet the important criteria of power-efficiency, reliability and Internet connectivity. Industrial applications have been the early adopters of this stack, which has become the de-facto standard, thereby bootstrapping early IoT developments with already thousands of wireless nodes deployed. Corroborated throughout this paper and by emerging industry alliances, we believe that a standardized approach, using latest developments in the IEEE 802.15.4 and IETF working groups, is the only way forward. We introduce and relate key embodiments of the power-efficient IEEE 802.15.4-2006 PHY layer, the power-saving and reliable IEEE 802.15.4e MAC layer, the IETF 6LoWPAN adaptation layer enabling universal Internet connectivity, the IETF ROLL routing protocol enabling availability, and finally the IETF CoAP enabling seamless transport and support of Internet applications. The protocol stack proposed in the present work converges towards the standardized notations of the ISO/OSI and TCP/IP stacks. What thus seemed impossible some years back, i.e., building a clearly defined, standards-compliant and Internet-compliant stack given the extreme restrictions of IoT networks, is commencing to become reality.
Date of Publication: Third Quarter 2013