Les objets sont capables de monitorer et d’agir sur leur environnement. Ils échangent des informations avec le cœur du réseau et peuvent ainsi créer de l’intelligence. Il peut s’agir de capteurs à faible coût pour la surveillance de l’environnement ou de micro-drones autonomes pour explorer les bâtiments. L’IEMN dispose d’une grande expertise et d’un savoir-faire dans le domaine des composants individuels pour les capteurs, des actionneurs, du traitement du signal, des systèmes de communication, de collecte et de stockage d’énergie. Il peut ainsi proposer des solutions innovantes pour la collecte et l’usage de l’information. Ce projet phare vise à rassembler ces compétences pour réaliser des nœuds interagissant avec l’environnement et les humains, intelligents, fiables, faciles à déployer et autonomes. Ils pourront aider à relever les défis sociétaux, actuels et futurs.

The development of connected objects must meet three key challenges:
(a) le matériel : systems for efficient monitoring of the environment in terms of information and energy management, integrating all the issues associated with autonomy (consumption, travel). The IEMN proposes innovative solutions for sensors and actuators, and can implement them in prototypes.
(b) information: Once retrieved, the information must be processed and communicated to be useful and functional. The IEMN has teams working on information processing within connected objects and on connectivity solutions.
Finally, (c) the environment: the process of deploying interconnected nodes must also be self-sufficient in its context. Thus, all of this research must take into account the limits of the field, particularly focused on processes and manufacturing costs for technologies that are (1) sustainable, (2) with a low environmental footprint and (3) socially acceptable.

Addressing these three objectives is key if we want to see a long-term Internet of Things that benefits people.

The development of IoT (Internet of Things) can only be achieved if three conditions are met: functionality is guaranteed with a high level of reliability; objects are maintenance-free (energy consumption in particular is critical); and their environmental impact is beneficial. To achieve these objectives, it is essential to combine the material development of new components with immaterial solutions (information processing and communication). These two aspects are the key challenges addressed by the IEMN. In addition to components and hardware/software solutions for information processing and communication, the IEMN is also able to produce complete prototypes of nodes, thus combining innovations from several different research activities.

Key challenge 1: Equipment

A connected object is first and foremost a physical object made up of components and requiring energy to generate/process/use information. These objects must be designed to be efficient, energy-efficient, if possible inexpensive, recyclable or biodegradable, but also adapted to their context of use (weight/size, for example). These constraints are often contradictory, and
new concepts are needed for sensors that are more sensitive, more specific, lighter and smaller. Energy is a key element (recovery, storage), but is dealt with separately in the Energy flagship. It is also crucial to test new components in a realistic, if not real, test environment, and therefore to prototype complete nodes.

Key Challenge 2: Information

The information collected by the sensor needs to be processed and communicated so that the target function of the sensor or actuator can be achieved, particularly in the case of extremely energy-constrained objects. It's essential to be parsimonious when exchanging data. A first step is to analyze the data within the node (Near-sensor computing) to identify useful information. Low on-board resources call for research into innovative architectures for extracting significant information from raw data with low power consumption (flagship Neuromorphic Technologies link). Secondly, the node needs to be connected with ultra-low-power communications, possibly in difficult environments (liquids, natural disasters, ultra-dense areas). Miniaturization, radio energy consumption (physical and protocol levels) and reliability are key in highly variable environments and application frameworks. Digital sobriety also requires us to question the meaning and usefulness of the information transmitted.

Key Challenge 3: The environment

To really assess the performance of nodes integrating new sensors or actuators, or of an innovative communication or information processing solution, another challenge is to deploy these nodes in real-life conditions. This requires interdisciplinary work, at the interface of different technologies, and drawing on the IEMN's prototyping strengths, exploding the technology to environmental issues beyond the laboratory scale (environmental footprint, societal acceptability, life cycle). To do so, this challenge is based on three issues: life cycles (autonomy duration, stability under environmental constraints), environmental footprint (sources of materials, recyclability, local and global ecological impacts) and societal acceptability (intrusive aspects of the hardware, vulnerability of data in the node on its network).