Internet Of Things (IoT) – Military & Defense

Although the Internet came in 1969, IoT gained prominence in 2010 when Google announced Connected Cars. Internet of Things (IoT), essentially, covers Everything and Anything which when becomes part of connected systems renders valuable services. Major industry giants turned their attention to IoT. Andy Standford of IBM and Arlen Nipper of Arcon introduced the first machine-to-machine protocol MQTT (MQ Telemetry Transport). The four major components of IoT are Sensors, Connectivity, Analytics, and User Interfaces. Last decade witnessed innovations in all these components. Sensors that use little power but are very accurate, machine-to-machine communication, advances in machine learning, cloud technologies, and applications that make the user experience better have all led to a huge growth in the field of IoT and its use in almost every field, including medicine, agriculture, remote sensing, city planning, industry, and the military. Nowadays, IoT has entered households with smart wearables, Google Home, Alexa and other devices enabling the concept of Smart Homes. IoT found several applications in the military domain, for e.g., battlefield surveillance, health tracking of soldiers, Smart Soldiers etc.

This article gives an overview of innovations in the Internet of things (IoT), its current state and how it is impacting the military domain through its innovative applications in this domain.

Keywords: IoT, IIoT, IoBT, IoMT, connected systems, networks, sensor technologies, machine-to-machine communication, analytics, machine learning, cloud, military.

IoT – Meaning And History

Although the birth history of the Internet can be traced back to 1969, the official birth year of Internet of Things (IoT) is 1990. IoT facilitated connection of things, through embedded sensors, to the Internet for communication of other machines, things and human beings. The industries recognized the importance of IoT and innovations began to roll.

The first Internet connected appliance was a modified Coke Vending Machine at Carnegie Mellon University in 1991. During the same time, Mark Weiser discussed the concept of Ubiquitous Computing. In the year 1999,  Kevin Ashton of Procter & Gamble proposed the term IoT which became popular at AutoCAD centre, MIT. In the year 2000, another innovation happened of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) which was envisaged to be an essential component of IoT [1]. 

IoT gained prominence in the year 2010 when Google announced the connected cars. Soon, many milestones in the field of IoT started appearing when major industry players recognized the importance and shifted their focus for innovative research in this field. UNECE (United Nations Economic Commision for Europe) declared IoT generated data as the key source of Big Data [2]. Andy Clark of IBM and Arlen Nipper of Eurotech introduced the first machine-to-machine protocol for connected devices, MQTT (MQ Telemetry Transport). 

In the past 10 years, there have been many improvements to sensor technologies, better ways for machines to talk to each other, analytics, advances in Machine Learning and Cloud Technologies, and applications that make the user experience better. There has been tremendous growth and proliferation of IoT in every domain viz., medical & healthcare, agriculture, remote sensing, city planning, industrial, construction etc. including the military domain. Related terms like IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), IoBT (Internet of Battlefield Things), IoMT (Internet of Military Things) etc. started getting attention. Now, IoT has entered the household through everyday objects. Smart homes, smart watches, Google Home and Amazon Alexa are common examples of IoT.  IoT now means Internet of Everythings and Anything, which is a better way to say it. 

IoT has not only impacted the quality of human life but also enhanced the efficiency of industries and their processes. To improve the interoperability, performance and spur the development of new IoT applications, IEEE has given standards for harmonization of IoT devices and systems (IEEE P1451.99)  [4] and IEEE 2413-2019 for Architectural Framework for IoT [5].

This article is organized as follows. The first section gives an overview of IoT evolution. The next section deals with the major components of IoT and few important innovations in them. Subsequent section presents the applications of IoT in the military domain and how it is impacting the soldiers and the battlefield. The last section concludes the article by highlighting the learnings and the new possibilities in the field of IoT.

Internet Of Things – Important Components 

The four major components of IoT are:

IoT Sensors

According to IEEE, a sensor is an electronic  device that produces electrical, optical, or digital data derived from a physical condition or event. Smart devices are devices with one or more sensors that can do more than just sensing things, for e.g., a smartphone has GPS, accelerometer, and camera. 

Sensors serve as the first step in IoT implementation. They pick and collect data from the environment.

IoT Networks

Networks are the second step in IoT implementation. They provide connectivity in IoT systems to enable communication of data collected by sensors through various communication mediums. These mediums could be cellular networks, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wi-Max, LoWiFi etc.

IoT Analytics

The third step in IoT implementation is extracting useful insights from the data for analysis. This could be as simple as controlling the temperature of the Air Conditioner (AC) or something complex like bringing out the lessons from the war videos.

IoT Applications and User Interface

This is the last step of IoT implementation. This layer is user-centric which performs various activities using the IoT network and is activated through a user interface. This interface need not only be Graphical User Interface (GUI) but could be any form of notification to the user like triggering alarms or notifications via phone, text, or email.

Innovations in Major Components of IoT

With attention from major industry players and development of IoT related standards, IoT is undergoing rapid innovations. Focus of these innovations are miniaturization, improving the performance and quality of these components Important innovations in these components are highlighted below:

  • Sensors – Low power consuming sensors are being developed. They are accurate and sensitive to parameters for which they were designed. With advances in MEMS and nanotechnology, the size of the sensors is significantly reduced. This led to their embedding in wearable and other small smart devices.
  • Networks – Cisco is the leading innovator in the field of IoT. It has developed a platform for IoT. Although IoT uses common networking protocols like UDP and JSON, specific protocols like MQTT and Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) have been developed.

To improve the efficiency of IoT connectivity, existing communication mediums like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi etc. have been modified. Newer communication mediums include Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee, LowPAN, LoRaWiFi and thread which is a replacement for IPv6 have been developed. Their frequencies, ranges and uses have been tabularized in [1].

With IoT generating exorbitant data, it makes sense to make use of innovations in cloud technologies.

  • Analytics – Huge datasets and increase in computing power of current day machines puts Artificial Intelligence (AI) back on the scene in the form of Machine Learning and Data Analytics.

Innovations in the field of analytics, among many, include Deep Reinforcement Learning and Deep Convolutional Neural Networks. Predictive Analytics is being used to improve the future of the concerned area. The interested readers can refer to [3] for a brief overview of innovations in this area.

  • Applications and User Interface – There exists diverse IoT applications, which include smart transportation, smart homes, personal care, healthcare, city planning, industrial, military and many other domains. The innovations in this component are focusing on designing user interfaces to support minimum effort for users and encourage more interactions.
  • Sensor management systems are being developed for controlling several devices from one common platform like smartphones. Samsung has developed SmartThings – a capability-based sensor management system through which applications interact with smart devices based on their capabilities. 

IoT Applications In The Military Domain

Battlefield Data Gathering

Unmanned aerial drones, equipped with cameras and sensors, are used to capture live images, trace the landscape and location of the enemies, and send real-time data to the command and control. This enables commanders  to keep an eye on the battlefield and make informed decisions on time.

Smart Tracking of Soldier’s Health

Sensors are placed in the soldiers’ clothes to track or centrally monitor their physical health and mental health. They can monitor heart rate, body temperature, and thermal distribution as well as some behavioral attributes like speech patterns. Doctors can get real-time updates on how their health is changing, which lets them plan ahead for medical supplements or equipment based on their needs.

Logistics and Supply Chain Management

IoT, through connected sensors and analytics, is used for regular maintenance of military vehicles and efficient transportation of ammunition and troops, tracking supplies from the source to where they are required on the battlefield, tracking military vehicles for  their position, fuel efficiency, damage level, engine status, and other crucial parameters. This helps them cut costs on transportation and reduce the amount of work that needs to be done by people.

Arms, ammunition, and unmanned equipment can also be tracked using sensors. Sensors built into weapons can help soldiers know when they need to reload. Unmanned equipment can be tracked and monitored during spying and surveillance of enemy grounds.

Enemy Identification

This is achieved using IoT sensors to capture irises, fingerprints, and other biometric data to determine the identity of a person and find the enemies who somehow have accessed military bases and can pose a threat.

Smart Bases

Smart military bases improve the efficiency, performance, and convenience of assets and services by automated screening, efficient resource (water, electricity etc) management, thereby enhancing the capacity and output of military bases.

Augmented Reality based Remote Training

IoT can help military personnel get ready for battle on the real battlefield. Movement sensors, acoustic sensors, and other types of sensors can watch them during practice or preparation and send data and insights to their coaches.

Data Processing and Analysis

The information collected by IoT about weapons, aircraft, fleet, and troops can increase the effectiveness of their intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems. This data enables armed forces to identify key threats quickly and with more accuracy. The collected data can be analyzed  to recognize patterns and derive correlations.

Above are just a few applications of IoT in the military domain [6][7] and there are many more applications in this domain [9][10].

Internet Of Things – Implementation In DRDO

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Drones, also known as Flying IoT, are classical examples of IoT application in the military domain. The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has already produced the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) Nishant and Rustom, as well as the drone DRDO Bharat.

Solid State Physics Laboratory (SSPL) is working on MEMS and nanotechnology for sensor development [11].

Under Technology Development Fund (TDF), DRDO has initiated a project for development of “Framework for Malware Analysis of SCADA & IoT based Malwares”. The project outcome will allow critical infrastructure such as power grid working without any disruption caused by malware, it is mandatory to have capability to analyze and create malware vaccines for malwares targeting critical infrastructure involving SCADA and IoT networks [12].

Hazard control systems based on the internet of things and artificial intelligence are now being developed by DRDO and other organizations [13].

As part of its Internet of Things product range, the Kalyani Group is integrating IoT into the Aeron system, which is known for its superior Wireless Data Loggers and Gateways [14].

Centre of AI Research (CAIR), along with other institutions, is working on a project named, Energy Harvesting Based Infrared Sensor Network for Automated Human Intrusion Detection (EYESIRa), which is partially based on the principles of IoT [15].

Take Away

It is anticipated that IoT will emerge as one of the most significant growth drivers in a variety of technology markets. With the increasing anti-military activities, the use of IoT in the military and defense has become a necessity. Integrating IoT into existing military and defense infrastructures can help them become more efficient and effective and can significantly reduce combat losses in lives and equipment. Using IoT in any kind of operation, like fighting on the battlefield, spying on an enemy base, or searching for and saving people. Combining IoT with Machine Learning can further help the military and defense in getting critical insights into the battlefield in real-time, enabling them to carry out a successful operation.

As highlighted in this article, DRDO has already embraced IoT. There may be many more IoT based projects in DRDO which are not listed in public domain. 

With connectivity comes the issue of security. Classical security mechanisms like mutual authentication are not enough for IoT devices. Specific security mechanisms for IoT are discussed in [8]. This is another area for innovative research

To sum up, IoT is the future area of innovation. Recent years have seen tremendous growth in IoT and its applications in almost every domain. The internet of things has impacted the quality of human life, improved efficiency of military and industrial operations. 


[1] Deepika, Amitendra, Vijay, Sriniva, “AL and ML Powering the Agents of Automation”, 1st ed, chap. 4, pp: 29-51, BPB Publications

[2] Accessed on 14th Sep, 2022.

[3] Tripathi, B.K., Anuradha J., “Internet of Things (IoT): Technologies, Applications, Challenges, Solutions”, chap. 3, pp. 41-57, CRC Press.

[4], IEEE Spectrum website accessed on 14th Sep, 2022

[5], “2413-2019 – IEEE Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things (IoT)

[6] Accessed on 18th Sep, 2022

[7] Accessed on 20th Sep 2022

[8] Vishal, Sandeep, “IoT Practices in Military Applications”, Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Trends in Electronics and Informatics (ICOEI 2019)



[11] Amita, Amir, “Microsensors Based on MEMS Technology”, Defence Science Journal, Vol. 57, No. 3, May 2007, pp. 225-232





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