The Internet of Things (IoT) concept is one of high popularity in the mobile software development. Internet of Things solutions significantly simplify our everyday lives, while receiving, sorting and processing data by means of special electronic equipment (various sensors, chips, video cameras, measuring devices, etc).
The term “Internet of Things” refers to a homogeneous network connecting the real-world objects around us and supporting the exchange of information between them without human participation. The interconnection methods can include any kinds and combinations of cable (twisted pair, coaxial, power supply) and wireless (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, cellular) links. This process is an implementation of the "machine-to-machine" (M2M) principle.
What are the benefits of the Internet of Things? The areas for the implementation of IoT are numerous. These can be intellectually managed apartments (so-called smart homes), medical facilities that automatically diagnose and determine treatments based on the results of anamnesis and surveys, or logistics companies that track the location of their vehicles in real time, etc. That is why the activities of many IT companies are increasingly targeting this immense segment of software development, and the cost of specialists building software in this area is gradually increasing. Want to learn more about IoT application development? In this article, we provide an overview of the main principles, rules, and tools for building Internet of Things apps.
5 main principles that must be taken into account by IoT developers before creating an application
- Ensure the safe collection of data. The collection of information through special equipment (sensors, etc.) is carried out outside of the usual data transmission networks. Therefore, when developing a custom Internet of Things application, it is very important to think of ways to protect the received information (in particular, the integrity and security of the initial settings in such devices, and mechanisms for the sensitive data encryption).
- Organize high-performance data streaming. As a rule, data collection systems consist of hundreds, even thousands of electronic devices. Therefore, for the efficient streaming of such large volumes of information, it is necessary to think over independent mechanisms that are different from traditional packet transfers.
- Create an Internet of Things platform. The IoT platform is a set of software tools that collectively help to systematize, store and process data received from electronic devices.
- Develop an Internet of Things solution in the cloud. In order to guarantee the fast delivery of processed data to a user device, and also to organize centralized storage, cloud solutions are usually used. Such systems can ensure the efficient operation of the Internet of Things application with minimal operating costs and requirements for carrier networks.
- Provide for effective data management. In-memory analysis and data processing systems are most often used. Such solutions ensure the rapid delivery of the processed results to the end user, even in the event of the data collection devices’ failure.
Developing an Internet of Things-based application: 4 consecutive stages
Choose the hardware. Devices designed to collect information are characterized by:
- Extremely low levels of power consumption;
- Wireless transmitters to support communication;
- Primitive embedded OS.
In most cases, the purchase of such equipment is not included in the list of tasks for the developer, since all the popular platforms for development of Internet of Things applications are integrated with a number of physical and virtual tools for the collection of necessary data.
Select centralized data storage. A cloud or similar centralized repository is ideal for accumulation, systematization and further analysis of collected data. In particular, cloud solutions are ideal from the point of view of providing efficient data transmission over low-speed networks.
Develop the server-side of data-handling algorithms. To sort and analyze the collected information, IoT application development platforms offer extensive functionality that allow for the creation of a high-performance, intelligent and scalable backend.
Create a front-end. Almost all modern platforms for the development of Internet of Things applications allow for the creation of full-featured, user-friendly front-end application interfaces with advanced search functions and intuitive structures.
Development from scratch: choosing the best options to develop IoT apps
To help develop IoT apps from scratch, many special platforms have been created over the last few years. Below, we have listed the most popular, which will allow you to create your own Internet of Things application as quickly as possible.
The top 5 tools to build an Internet of Things application
- Azure IoT Suite. Azure IoT Suite is an incredibly popular software package from Microsoft, specifically created for the simple integration of information collection devices into a consolidated system for transferring, storing, analyzing and processing data. Thanks to cloud architecture, the Azure IoT Suite provides access to a reliable and scalable storage bank of large volumes of information. Microsoft Azure Cloud is also supplemented with an extensive list of advanced services, including Azure IoT Hub (for device-to-cloud and cloud-to-device messaging), Azure Stream Analytics (for data sorting), Azure Storage, Azure Cosmos DB (for secure metadata storage and management of assembler devices), and Azure Web Apps Microsoft Power BI (for the creation of front-ends).
- Amazon Web Services. It's no news that one of the world's largest trading platforms has introduced special tracking chips that allow for monitoring the location of goods at any stage of their delivery. To provide efficient data exchange between chips and hardware such as PCs, Amazon Web Service was developed in 2006, which is a full-fledged infrastructure of agnostic platforms, including file hosting, cloud computing, virtual servers, and much more. The main advantages of this solution for the Internet of Things apps development include increased security (in compliance with DSS, FISMA, HIPAA and many other specifications), flexibility (thanks to the support of agnostic protocols) and adaptability (due to its cloud architecture).
- IBM Watson. The artificial intelligence based IBM Watson software implements support for a reliable relationship between information collection devices, servers and user parts of the developed applications. Creating such an application with the help of IBM Watson services is really simple. Thanks to the advanced functionality that allows for quick connection of gateways and data collection equipment, thoughtful storing and processing algorithms, real-time analysis instruments, and advanced security measures, this set of intuitive tools allows for the quick creation of enterprise level Internet of Things applications. IBM Watson services are available on the popular IBM Bluemix platform - cloud-based PaaS based on SoftLayer infrastructure, with support for Python, Java, Swift, Ruby, Node.js, PHP and other equally popular development languages and frameworks.
- Oracle IoT. Oracle IoT is one of the leading software solutions for the development of Internet of Things applications, built over one of the most flexible programming environments - Oracle. Based on cloud computing technologies, applications created with Oracle IoT have a whole host of advanced capabilities, including device virtualization, high-speed messaging, endpoint management, stream processing, data enrichment, event storage, REST API support, and enterprise connectivity. This is just a few of the Oracle IoT features and is by no means an extensive list. In 2017, this platform was complemented with new products: IoT Asset Monitoring Cloud, IoT Fleet Monitoring Cloud, IoT Production Monitoring Cloud, and IoT Connected Worker Cloud, designed to solve a number of business tasks and improve the process of converting data into the user-friendly form.
- KAA IoT. The open source KAA IoT platform offers an incredibly rich toolkit for developing IoT applications, embodying best practices for software creation. KAA IoT has a lot of advanced features; among them, a well-thought-out functionality for the adjustment of mobile device compatibility, flexible management of an unlimited number of sensors for the collection of information through an SDK server, real-time sensor monitoring, cloud services, automation of software updates, automated user personal device settings distribution, etc. All these features, when combined, make KAA IoT one of the most advanced products for the development of this kind of software.
The 5 fastest growing areas for Internet of Things applications
- Smart homes. Automated house management systems are being actively promoted in highly developed countries. Software for water, electrical, gas and heating resource planning, security and remote control systems are all based on the Internet of Things concept, and will soon minimize the need for human oversight by becoming completely common attributes of everyday life.
- Retail. The retail sphere opens up ample opportunities to develop apps for the Internet of Things. Such trade process branches as supply chain control (monitoring of the storage conditions of goods at each stage of their delivery) and intelligent shopping (creating a collection of goods based on location, acceptable price range and individual characteristics of the consumer) are the most fertile for the creation of high-end Internet of Things software.
- Electronic health care. Innovative technologies are being introduced into the healthcare every year. The IoT concept is actively used in the development of applications for patient status monitoring, diagnostics, monitoring of temperature, moisture and UV radiation in medical products storage, as well as analysis of environmental conditions, etc.
- Logistics. Logistics are one of the most viable areas for the implementation of Internet of Things. Using active and passive RFID tags, equipped with integrated chips, antennas, and GPS trackers, such applications provide an integrated approach to tracking the location of transported goods. In order to transform data collected from sensors, logistics companies hire professionals to develop highly specialized software based on the Internet of Things. Such solutions are compatible with even low-performance mobile devices.
- Manufacturing. The "machine-to-machine" principle was the forerunner of the Internet of Things concept, with a simpler structure (unlike M2M, IoT implies the use of middleware for data processing). This has been an indispensable attribute of industrial software in recent years. Nevertheless, existing M2M solutions can be integrated into the Internet of Things. An example of this is the software for the implementation of production tasks. Such solutions include digital product quality control systems, asset management systems, production equipment management systems, etc.
In view of the relevance of the Internet of Things, there are a lot of training resources and tools today that will allow the creation of IoT solutions in a relatively short time. In addition, monies spent on the development of IoT applications in the coming years will grow rapidly. This indicates the great potential of the Internet of Things ecosystem.
We can argue that IoT development is one of the most promising sectors in the IT business. We, at applikeysolutions.com, have already created more than 20 similar projects in the last year, and have all the needed expertise to help materialize each customer’s vision. Numerous areas for the application of the Internet of Things, as well as a wide selection of platforms and programming languages for the creation of appropriate apps, provide our developers with vast resources and skills to make the process fruitful for all parties involved.