What is the difference between Internet of Things (IoTs) and cyber-physical systems (CPS)?

CPS and IoT form two different levels of the vertical digital integration.

  1. Cyber-Physical Systems

Cyber-Physical System is a holonic system which consists of a ‘physical entity’ and its ‘cyber-twin’ connected together. This ‘cyber-twin’ is basically a ‘computational-relation-model’ of the physical entity which means that it can virtually replicate the behavior of the physical machine, and give an insight on how will the machine react when prompted with various actions. The connection can be done using sensors and actuators.

For example, if we consider a lathe machine, it performs the task of producing jobs at a particular rate; undergoing preventive maintenance; breaking down; producing quality defected parts etc. Let us call these activities as machine ‘states’ which occur in a particular pattern in real-life. Now, a cyber-twin of this lathe machine will be a computer program that will give the output as the ‘states’ of this machine in a similar pattern as followed by the actual machine.

Essentially, a CPS should be taken in the sense of a disconnected entity (with other CPS and not between its physical & cyber counterparts). Connected CPSs are called as Internet of Things (IoT).

  1. Internet of Things

Now, IoT is simply networking of these ‘Cyber-Physical’ ‘Things’ for information transfer. It’s obvious that simple hardware does not have the capability to connect. That’s why we first transformed the hardware into a software and now, together, we can connect the hardware and that is IoT. Hardware, here, means the physical entity or ‘Thing’.

Thus, CPS forms the first level and IoT forms the second level of vertical digital integration.

Importantly, since this domain is being gradually realized by the technology fraternity around the globe, new vocabulary is also being developed around it. For example, if we extend the idea of IoT to industries, it becomes: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Cyber-Physical Production Systems (CPPS) or Smart Factory or Future Factory etc. If we extend it to our homes it becomes ‘Smart Homes’! So, the technological essence is more important than it’s nomenclature.

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