A New Era of IoT: The Social IoT/Social Network of Things

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A New Era of IoT: The Social IoT/Social Network of Things

Social Internet of Things (SIoT)

Several smart objects can transform into intelligent objects if they become social. This means that if different smart objects could interconnect and make decisions without human intervention, that would create a social network.

It is a relatively new term in the IoT family and is a subset of IoT. In simple terms, it is defined as – smart devices creating a relationship amongst themselves and, thus, forming a social network of their own. However, this should not be misinterpreted as smart objects in a social network. Instead, this is one platform where different objects are interconnected to each other to provide better quality services to the users instead of operating individually.

The smart objects in SIoT share four common types of relationships as described below:

  1. POR (Parental Object Relationship): These relationships are established among objects that usually belong to the same production batch (homogeneous objects). The same manufacturer makes these objects and has also originated simultaneously.
  2. C-LOR (Co-location Object Relationship): these are relationships shared among objects that can be either homogeneous or heterogeneous but always used in the same place, like the sensors, augmented objects, actuators, etc., used in a smart city or smart home. Usually, it is observed that these objects do not really cooperate but still is useful for fast connections.
  3. C-WOR (Co-work object relationship): A cooperative relationship exists where smart objects collaborate to provide a common IoT application—for example, emergency services.
  4. OOR (Ownership object relationship): This relationship is opposite to POR. This kind of relationship exists between heterogeneous objects, but the same user owns these objects, for example, mobile phones, gaming consoles, etc.
  5. SOR (Social object relationship): This relationship exists among the objects when their owners are different and come in contact with each occasionally or regularly, for example, sensors, devices of classmates, colleagues, friends, and relatives, and connecting.

Social IoT Architecture

A New era of IoT: The Social IoT/Social Network of things

Much architecture has been proposed for Social IoT. One such is the Web of Objects platform or architecture:

 WoO Architecture (Web of Objects Architecture)

It is a framework that provides an IoT service that includes Virtualised Objects (VOs) that are interconnected to resources and provides a platform for development testing, deployment, operations, and maintenance of IT services. It enables services by the merger of VOs and web application features. It uses semantic web technologies for the interoperability of the heterogeneous objects in the network.

SWO Architecture (Social Web of Objects Architecture)

Technologies like Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) based microservices are incorporated in this architecture web. The architecture can be broken down into three levels:

  • Service level – At this level, the social relationship of the smart objects is enabled by several micro-services designed for this purpose
  • Object Virtualisation Level – the SPARQL endpoints that are defined at this level open the interfaces to recover, store and rectify RDF(Resource Description Framework) graphs
  • These interfaces also facilitate the domain expert, developer, and knowledge engineer to create virtualization objects (VOs) and service templates, policies, and user profiles.

SRMWO Architecture (Social Relationship model for Web Objects Architecture)

This model says that the smart objects form relationships at each service lifecycle stage. These relationships can provide benefits like increased information discovery efficiency, reuse, and better composition if codified. This architecture assumes that every service is based on Virtualised Objects and one or more microservices. At Virtualised Objects (VO) level, each object forms relationships.

Now the object association in this model is categorized as follows:

  1. A vertical association, also called inter-object associated, is based on Web of Objects architecture, and the relationship flow is bottom to top
  2. A horizontal association called intrasubject association exists within objects at each virtualized object level.

Social IoT Applications

  1. Smart Retailing – Suppose a customer enters a supermarket; the smartphone connects with the mart app, and their profile is created, which includes the preferred brand, the regularly bought items, etc. further, the smartphone interacts with the refrigerator storage place at home. This instantly creates a list of items that are finished or need replenishment, and the app is updated with a list of items to be bought. The customer only has to decide whether to buy the finished item, if they wish to buy a new item, or if they want to try a new brand. IoT enables the establishment of such type of object connectivity where no human intervention is required.
  2. Smart Traffic Management and Surveillance System – In this use case, the vehicles traveling to a particular route can interact with each other and provide updates on the number of vehicles moving towards a particular road. For example, suppose a fleet of vehicles is moving towards a route, and some are far from the others. Then, they can be directed to an alternate route. This can be done before the vehicle enters a congested route or to prevent congesting a route based on the occupancy pattern from data collected by the sensors installed on individual vehicles and the interaction among them. In addition, Surveillance can be done by the smart sensors or devices installed on the roadside that can alert the nearby police vehicle of any crime occurring on any street. The police vehicle with smart devices will automatically access the equipment required based on the event and reach the crime scene within the minimum possible time.
  3. Smart Healthcare – Healthcare is one of the domains that would greatly benefit from SIoT. A smart sensor on highways and roads can alert the smart ambulance of an accident, and thus the smart ambulance can check the equipment required and reach the spot in the minimum possible time. Smart medicine boxes can interact with sensors on the human body, guide on dosages and side effects, and provide reminders to consume them.
  4. Smart Shoe – Suppose a person is going outdoors or simply going for a walk. The smart shoe can sense the activities in the body from the sensors and reshape it based on the body’s requirements. It can also help track the movements of the person and can alert the sensors installed at home in case of an emergency. It can also provide a detailed health report and send it to the designated healthcare center in case of abnormalities are found.
  5. Smart Museum/Public place – As a user is at the entrance of a museum or any public place, they are prompted to install an app associated with that particular place. As the user installs, they are assigned a virtual assistant and, based on the visiting pattern, interests, likes, and dislikes captured from social media, guides the person through the place, informing about the specialties and navigating them by the smart objects placed in the place to reach their thus enhancing user experience.

Below diagram shows how two devices can interact bi-directionally without human assistance.


Advantages of Social IoT

  • IoT is based on the fact that the objects would be socially connected or establish a relationship with each other without human intervention.
  • IoT would increase security and trustworthiness since the smart objects would know if the relationship is with a known or unknown object, thus increasing or decreasing the level of interaction between them. This will also facilitate humans monitoring security parameters.
  • Structure SIoT in a logical way such that it is navigable. This will make the object easily discoverable and add to the scalability similar to that of a human social network.

Challenges in implementing Social IoT

  • One of the major challenges in Social IoT is the selection of hardware device /object-specific OS. This arises due to devices deployed in various applications working in collaboration.
  • Compatibility is another challenge where heterogeneous objects from different vendors must connect and interoperate.
  • Input/output is another area of concern in IoT. If there is mismanagement, this will lead to delays, deadlocks, and resource utilization issues, and the system will be vulnerable to security threats.
  • Sensitive SIoT objects associated with mission-critical applications or services with their process running, which should run with almost no delay, must be configured properly. Since these objects run with nanoseconds of completion time, any delay would pose a risk to the security of the IoT devices and the users.
  • Cost is another factor that needs prime importance as it tends to fluctuate depending upon the type of devices sharing the relationship and the applications involved. In addition, the smart objects’ relationships and applications or services might change based on user requirements.


The Social Internet of Things (SIoT) concept proposes a revolutionary approach to smart objects that goes beyond their traditional roles as mere devices. By integrating smart objects into a social network, we can create intelligent objects capable of communicating and making decisions without human intervention. Furthermore, this interconnectedness among smart objects creates new possibilities for automation, optimization, and problem-solving.

Therefore, it is safe to say that transforming smart objects into intelligent objects through socialization could lead to a world where our physical environment becomes more responsive and adaptive to our needs. The SIoT has the potential to transform our world into a more efficient, sustainable, and connected one.

Author Bio:

Experienced Director with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Bhargav Thakkar is the Director of Magneto IT Solutions, a full-service Web Development in the USA, India, and UAE. He has experience delivering over 100+ projects ranging from web technologies to mobile application technology.

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