Internet of Things or IoT is everywhere. From smart homes & smart cities to your fitness trackers & connected cars, we have seen them all and there’s more to come. As we gear up for 2020, studies suggest that IoT will comprise of 30 billion connected devices and that number may go up to 500 billion in another 10 years.
IoT is changing the trajectory of our lives. Be it our homes or our offices, these connected devices are changing the way we cook, clean, drive, work out, watch TV or simply change the lighting in the room. But more than that, they have extensive use in businesses, manufacturing and healthcare as the data provided by these smart devices help them in operational insights, cost savings, better efficiency and even saving lives.
A few more statistics may make the rise of the IoT quite evident. In 2018, the global IoT market stood at $130bn. The same number is estimated to reach $318bn by 2023 as per data and analytics company, Global Data.
But what exactly is IoT?
Experts believe that the physical world and the digital world are going to draw closer in the coming years. We have already felt the presence of IoT products in the market like smart washing machines & refrigerators, thermostats, and even door locks which we can be controlled with our phones.
A smart home is populated with products that interact with their immediate environment and understand what the homeowners’ preferences are and what they might require in the future. The advent of Amazon Echo and Google Home in recent times have become the face of the new generation smart homes.
Similarly, wearables have gained popularity since some time now. Smartwatches and fitness trackers are ubiquitous and some other technologies like smart clothes, head-mounted displays, implantables may also become a reality in some time.
These are just a few examples of IoT to help you understand the term better. Here is a formal definition –
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.Gartner
Simply put, IoT means extending the power of the internet to things around us and not just our smartphones, laptops and computers. This concept has imagined a physical world where almost anything and everything is interconnected and can exchange information with each other with the help of the internet.
The crucial elements for IoT application development
Despite the phenomenal growth of IoT that we have witnessed and will witness in the time to come, IoT application development has proved to be more challenging than other software development endeavours that companies have taken. The nature of the technology is such that different business, operational & technical departments have to work together to make IoT applications a success.
Cisco survey has found out that when it comes to IoT application development and technology deployment, projects have been found to be stalled 60% of the time. Plausible reasons might be less collaboration amongst functional units, wrong choice of the tech platform to build the app, improper planning etc.
We thought we might help out those who are building an IoT application so that they know in advance the tips and tricks for a successful IoT application development.
Define your project goals and objectives
Despite being an obvious step, the initial planning & research is often ignored in IoT application development. Without proper planning and goal-setting exercise, it is impossible to build any software application, let alone an IoT application.
In the process of developing an IoT application, initial planning is even more important as multiple functional teams are involved. Each of the functional teams must define their goals in crisp, measurable, and attainable manner. The planning process begins with understanding the idea of the application and its impact on the business in the long run when it comes to productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
You also need to ask the right questions like –
- Where does the data go once captured by the sensor?
- How does the data travel from the “edge” sensor to the system and from the system core to the end-user where the data gets utilized?
- How does data transformation happen?
- What are the protocols used? Whether they are based on open standards, are proprietary, or yet to be standardized?
Determine hardware & software solution for the four IoT levels
There are four levels to an IoT application –
The device – In most cases, this is the sensor that gathers the data and is connected to the internet. Organizations may partner with third-party vendors who are developing sensors for a general or specialized purpose.
The data ingestion & aggregation layer – This is where the enormous amount of data collected from sensors is aggregated and stored preferably in a cloud solution.
The analytics layer – The aggregated data is sent for advanced processing & analytics fro insights. AI and machine learning are transforming this space.
The user experience – This pertains to how the end-user interacts with the relevant information through an IoT product such as a software application.
The different hardware and software requirements at various levels need to be integrated properly as you develop your IoT application. There are plenty of solutions to choose from for sensors & actuators, ingestion tier platforms, cloud solutions, analytics software platforms, and APIs that help you communicate. This needs to be planned in advance so that the capabilities and areas that would need work in future are identified before development begins.
Build a roadmap
Your IoT application development project may go haywire without a well-defined project scope. If a proper roadmap is not created beforehand, the end-result of a project might turn out to be drastically different from what was planned in the beginning. Before starting, define the roadmap with set deliverables and timelines so that the project can proceed accordingly and all teams are on the same page. This gives an overview of what is to be accomplished and by when.
Handpick the right IoT development platform
Once you define the roadmap, you need to choose the appropriate IoT development platform that fits your requirements. Defining the roadmap first will help you decide the Return on Investment (RoI) on your IoT project along with your outcome and performance metrics. A few questions you need to answer before you choose a platform –
- How is the track record of the potential development platforms that you have shortlisted? Do they have a history of successful deployments? How reliable are they?
- To what extent will they be able to scale and offer global connectivity in future?
- Security is a major concern when it comes to IoT. You need to evaluate how capable your choice of platforms are in this regard?
- Are they a part of the managed cloud services or will they need frequent infrastructural support and maintenance?
Some of the solutions that exist in the market are Ubidots, Xively or Thingworx that provide for amazing IoT app development and help in designing the best in class IoT apps. Well-reputed corporations like Microsoft, SAP and IBM also have their own IoT development platforms.
Make IoT applications convenient for the end-users
An IoT application is meant to connect people and the devices used in their physical world. Hence a smooth user experience goes a long way in ensuring that the app will stay in the market for a long time to come. Understanding your end-users’ requirements and integrating features & functionalities that will make their life easier will encourage them to come back to your app more than ever.
For instance, consider the IoT applications that are used for industrial purposes. For example, manufacturing has two sets of audience for an IoT application – operational managers and business decision-makers. The former set of people control the sensors, supervise devices and send commands while the latter consumes the data and analytics on dashboards to generate reports and make business decisions. The UI should be able to cater to both sets of the end-users to make their work easier.
Analyze security concerns
Since IoTs are always connected, security emerges as a major concern. IoT applications are vulnerable to attacks on different layers and the hardware is the most sensitive. Application developers must choose the use of the right firewalls and anti-malware along with making sure they are updated. The connection should be safe and the data protected as it travels through the ingestion and analytics layers. If it’s a home-based application, privacy concerns of the end-user are of utmost importance.
Choose the right communication channel
The right communication channel depends upon the options we have according to those that the device supports. They can be chosen from Bluetooth, LAN, WAN, cellular, Wi-Fi, or any satellite communication. Before you make the choice, consider the factors of range, bandwidth, signal strength, security, radio signals, latency etc.
Ensure speed and scalability
IoT applications require real-time data streaming and it’s important to employ robust real-time solutions. Another major challenge is making your IoT application scalable else it will become redundant after a time when data volumes increase as they arrive from multiple sources & devices.
Are you planning to develop an IoT application?
If you are planning to build an IoT solution for your organization, Knoldus experts can help. Our past IoT projects include a conference monitoring system developed in Rust programming language that keeps track of conference attendees using Image recognition with AWS Rekognition Service. You can explore the project here.
We’ve also developed Hawk, a security system also built on Rust. It also makes use of AWS S3, Rekognition, and Lambda function. For further details on Hawk, visit http://bit.ly/2SVcM6d. To speak to our experts, get in touch with us or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.