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An Internet protocol (IP) module is a component that allows a non-networked device to connect to a network system. These devices are often separate hardware pieces that connect to some sort of output on the main device. The IP module translates the information from the standard output form into network data and sends it to a networked system. An IP module is closely related to a wireless module, although these typically convert a wired network port into a wireless one.
In most cases, an IP module is a hardware piece that connects directly to a very specific device. For instance, an IP module for a security camera will typically only connect to one type of camera; it is incompatible with others, even those made by the same company. Most manufacturers try to make the IP module connect with the device as though it is supposed to be there. Very few IP modules simply hang from or stick off the side of the connected device. In some cases, the IP module is installed inside the original device.
The most common IP modules are for devices that have no direct need to connect to the Internet and are likely to work for many years without failure. Systems such as security cameras or monitoring devices, like those in a hospital, don’t need to connect to the Internet in order to function. In addition, these systems are expansive and people are slow to replace them. It isn’t uncommon for the same monitors to work for decades without replacement.
In systems such as these, older machines may have been installed before networked systems were even part of a common infrastructure. Even newer machines may have gone online before the users had a centralized computer system capable of accepting the sent data. When the needs of the organization change, IP modules may be used to extend the usefulness of the devices. This will avoid the need to replace them and save the company money in the long run.
Most external IP modules use wired connections while most internal ones use wireless. This is far from a hard rule, and it is possible to find examples of each that work the other way. When an IP module is wireless, it is often called a wireless IP module. As a result of their similar names, it is easy to confuse them with a wireless module. In most cases, a wireless module connects to a standard wireless connection to allow it to connect to a wireless system.