Internet of Things or IoT as we say it is the concept of connecting devices to the Internet and each other. IoT has been around since the 90s in the form of very first versions of wearable technology including wireless transmitters and wireless webcams. With the advancement and widespread access to the internet, the need for connecting devices has exponentially grown in the last decade with applications like smart homes, smart cities, and connected health. A Forbes report quoted the IoT market will hit $267 billion by 2020.
As workforces have participated in finding different applications of IoT, companies are now focused on how they can deliver IoT services to the consumers in various domains. Research is also going on to providing IoT as a services platform. Things-as-a-Service (TaaS) is still a far-fetched goal for many IoT providers because of monetization concerns. Even big companies like Samsung and Google are investing in their own devices and infrastructure.
Let’s introduce some of the IoT applications.
Some of the standard applications of IoT are in the wearable domain. These devices sense user’s fitness and health patterns. Other applications include smart homes, smart cities, connected cars, smart retail, IoT in agriculture, poultry, farming, and energy. Amazon Go is an example of smart retail having intelligent shelves recognizing what items were taking and automatically billing it to user’s Amazon account without a cashier. In agriculture, farmers are using this technology to gain better insights on soil conditions, water usage, and fertilizer consumption.
Building blocks and pillars of IoT application development
There are namely four stages in the development of an IoT app.
- Things in themselves:
This is the hardware needed for the device. It primarily consists of the sensors which would accept signals, like motion recognition, face recognition, fitness device sensors.
This is a medium to stay connected with other devices, the user, and the server. IoT devices are known to be connected to Bluetooth networks, local networks and then to the internet using different mediums.
- Programming the sensor and the server:
This is needed to read the data from the sensors and send them to servers which accept the signals sent over the network and stores the data in either housed local storage or cloud storage. Servers also process any algorithm to derive metrics, analytics on received data.
- Displaying data back to the user:
This is sometimes inbuilt in the IoT device (a small screen), or mostly also provided on an app associated with the IoT device to which the user has connected.
The fundamental pillars that most IoT app development companies follow include – security of IoT devices, standardization in devices to promote universal development and deployment, and interoperability with other technologies to be able to work in any environment.
Recommendations for developing apps in IoT
- Select a Precise and Convenient Platform: It is essential to choose a platform wisely based on the problem that you are trying to solve and your IoT strategy. If you know the challenges you will face in the development of the application; you would be able to look up platform solutions providing a fix for those challenges. An example of a platform: if your business application is an analytics service, your platform should have basic anomaly detection, rules engine, regression services. There is no one-size-fits-all platform for every application.
- Understand the diverse IoT application Levels: Understanding how the IoT applications work as in a system is significant for its development. There are certain building blocks for an IoT app – the device, ingestion layer, analytics, and how you render the data to the user. Knowledge of these layers helps take a systematic approach when developing an app.
- Consider the Market and Industry for IoT Application: The market for “things” is obviously on the ascent, but it is necessary to understand the market for your specific problem. As the devices are becoming connected with each other, smaller isolated platforms like a smart water boiler in the kitchen will lose the raise if not integrated with the IoT of a smart home. This industry has brought multiple companies together to collaborate.
- Design apps keeping function and target audiences in mind: The main purpose of IoT is to make lives of humans easier. It is important to understand what pain point is it that we are trying to solve and what is the kind of audience for the solution.
- Include Built-in Security Functionalities and Features: Security is the core of any IoT application. IoT devices and apps like GPS which is embedded in movable objects can’t be controlled for their physical security. So the data should be encrypted and the storage medium should be difficult to remove. IoT apps are user targeted and used for personal purposes. There is a huge privacy risk if data is stolen from the storage mediums or servers.
- Make Apps Robust and Scalable: An IoT application should be developed keeping in mind its fit in the huge atmosphere of other IoT devices. It should be interoperable from a technology standpoint and be able to integrate with other apps.
- Take care of Speed and Quality: As it is, this is a cut-throat industry. A single improvement in analytics or signal reception topples over the previous device. Therefore it is vital that once the need for creating an IoT application is assessed, it should be developed keeping in mind the quality and deliverables.
Over the period, as more and more companies are collaborating to capture the market of IoT application, newer technologies are coming up. The process for implementation, deployment, and usage is getting simpler; the devices are becoming user-friendly as well as cost-effective.