Pacemaker protocols: Negotiating the Internet of Things

Two weeks ago, IBM and its development partner Eurotech formally submitted Message Queue Telemetry Transport protocol to the Eclipse Foundation open source group. It’s being called “the” Internet of Things (IoT) protocol, but in fairness it’s only one candidate. It would serve as the communications mechanism for devices whose size may scale down to the very small level, with negligible power and transmission radius of only a few feet.

A trillion heartbeats

One example application already in the field, Piper told RWW, is in pacemakers. Tiny transmitters inside pacemakers communicate using MQTT with message queue brokers at their patients’ bedsides. Those brokers then communicate with upstream servers using more conventional, sophisticated protocols such as WebSphere MQ.

“Look, this is engineered for a constrained environment,” Piper emphasized. “But because of that, [these devices] are actually extremely efficient at doing things like conserving battery, and using very low bandwidth. So [MQTT] is actually a fairly sensible protocol for both the machine-to-machine (M2M) space that we’re addressing with the Eclipse announcement, and also the mobile explosion as well. All these devices need to be connected.”

New twist on the old idea of having a heart-to-heart conversation.