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Ketan Chavda
by on February 19, 2020
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The population of IoT devices is estimated to surpass 75 billion by 2025 . Many industries are leveraging the power of IoT to gain unsurmountable benefits in their respective businesses. From Manufacturing to Retail and from Smart homes to Healthcare, enterprises are quickly adopting IoT to gain a competitive advantage and to make the lives of their customers substantially better.

What is IoT

The Internet of things is a term used to define a network of interconnected devices which can communicate with each other with little human interference. These devices can be anything from a vehicle to a medical device. The advent of faster internet networks and cheap hardware devices has ushered IoT into a new era, where the IoT devices can seamlessly communicate with each other.

These devices need to be controlled by a piece of software. The question arises why can’t this piece be a mobile app? Well, it certainly can. Many smart home devices manufacturers have already built mobile apps for controlling their devices. But before building a mobile app for an IoT system, you need to understand certain things.

Let's have a more in-depth look.

Major components of IoT

As with any sytem, an IoT system is also an amalgamation of various components. There are 4 main components of an IoT system. They are

Hardware:-The hardware component includes the mobile devices that are controlling the IoT system as well as the various sensors installed upon the “things” which require monitoring. The role of the multiple sensors is to collect data and send it back to the server for analysis.

For instance:- a heart rate sensor installed in a Fitness band will monitor the heart rate of the user. Sensors then send data either to the interconnected device in the system or to a central cloud server or both the locations.

Software:- The software component of an IoT system acts as an interface between the devices and their human controllers. A software system gives various types of commands to the devices as well as to perform various calculations on the data sent by these devices.The software system also acts as a dashboard and shows the status of various sensors.


Network:- IoT devices send data to a cloud server for analysis. For this, we need a medium for transportation; this medium can be either a WAN, Wi-Fi, cellular network, Bluetooth or satellite network.

While implementing the network in an IoT system, you will need to study the specific requirements of the entire IoT system. Every network system has its trade-offs in terms of range, bandwidth and power consumption.

Cloud infrastructure:- All the data which is sent by the devices is stored and processed into a cloud server.


Things to consider while developing an app for IoT

Define your requirement

You need to have a clear idea about what would be the level of interaction of your app with the entire IoT system. What functions will your app have? What level of control will the app have over the IoT system? A common mistake while designing the app is that people tend to think about the app first and do not take a holistic view of the entire IoT system.

Remember your app is just a bridge between you and the IoT system, decide the functionalities of the IoT system before moving ahead with building the app. Decide certain things like infrastructure, the type and the number of IoT devices that shall be connected, the complexity of the IoT system and how will the user interact with the system, before thinking about the app.

Think about the future

While building the app, think ahead and make the application a scalable one. Technology is changing fast, and it is pretty challenging to imagine how the future will shape up. Hence it is best to build an app which can be scaled up or down easily and quickly to meet the changing demands of the IoT system.

Ensure robust security provisions

In an IoT system, there are many points of exposure as the IoT sensors have to collect data points from multiple sources. Hence, this increases the chances of compromising an IoT system. A hacker can penetrate an IoT system more efficiently than a traditional system. You should take into consideration the security concerns and discuss this with your IoT device manufacturer and the IoT app development company.

Selection of the hardware

The success of your IoT system will depend more on the quality of sensors and other hardware components that you procure. Hence it is advisable to get your sensors from a reliable IoT devices provider. Also, there is a technological inconsistency amongst the IoT sensors as there is no standard protocol yet regarding the communication of IoT devices made by different companies.

For example:- You need to check whether a smart light bought from one company and a thermostat bought from another are compatible with your current smart home system.

One pro-tip would be to consider the firmware of the app. It would be a wise idea to develop the firmware first as then the mobile app can be developed like any other ordinary mobile app. Otherwise, the process of development will become snail-paced.

Top Tools/Platforms to build IoT apps

IoT is a developing field, and hence, it is wise to use some app IoT development platforms instead of trying to develop the app from scratch. We have listed out the top popular platforms for IoT app development for your convenience.

Microsoft Azure IoT suite:- Released by Microsoft, the Azure IoT suite has gained popularity because it allows for a smooth integration of devices into a complex system. Microsoft has integrated the suite with its cloud platform, which will enable you to take benefit of the robust cloud infrastructure of Microsoft.

Azure also provides advanced cloud services like Azure Stream Analytics(used for data sorting), Azure Cosmos DB(used for secure metadata storage and management of data from assembler devices) and Azure IoT hub(which enables secure device to cloud and device to device communication)

KaaIoT:- This is an open-source IoT platform which contains a rich repository of tools required for developing IoT specific applications. KaaIoT provides you with a host of features which include managing an unlimited number of sensors, regular updates, cloud services, real-time monitoring of the sensors.

IBM Watson:- IBM's Watson provides much reliable support for integrating various devices, servers and other parts in an IoT system. The reason is that it contains an advanced functionality which enables a much quicker connection between multiple data collection devices(things in an IoT system).

Watson also provides data storing and processing algorithms and a real-time analysis of instruments along with advanced security measures. Watson supports popular programming languages and frameworks like Python, Swift, Ruby, Node.js and PHP.

Oracle IoT:- Applications built on the oracle IoT platform have an advantage of gaining access to a wide range of capabilities like device virtualization, high-speed messaging, stream data processing, REST API support and enterprise connectivity to name a few.

Along with these features, the oracle IoT provides features like IoT asset monitoring cloud, fleet monitoring cloud, worker monitoring cloud and production monitoring cloud. Oracle IoT helps you in converting the raw data obtained from IoT devices into user-friendly forms.

Industries where IoT apps have good potential

The following are the industries where developing an IoT app will enhance the benefits of the app.

Smart homes:-We are already seeing many smart home equipment manufacturers come up with apps for controlling their smart devices. The convenience that an app allows is unparalleled, compared to having a small remote for each intelligent device.

Retail:- Smart shopping carts are available in the market, which will let you know every small detail about your chosen product. There are a few superstores which have benefitted by using such shopping carts. These shopping carts not only educate the customer about the product but also maintain a calculation of the items purchased. Thus significantly reducing the waiting time in payment ques. Retailers can also use IoT devices to monitor their merchandise. This will aid in eliminating the problem of pilferage.

Logistics:- The Logistics and transportation industry has already started leveraging the power of IoT systems into their businesses. Companies are developing mobile apps to enable the user to monitor the location of their transport vehicles.

Manufacturing:-IoT systems have many applications in the manufacturing sector, which include digital machine monitoring systems, which tell about the health of the machine, improving the bolt tightening process , help in centralized monitoring of the processes and give inputs about maintaining consistency in quality.

Conclusion

Developing an IoT app requires taking a holistic view of the entire system, which includes various data-collecting devices. The communication between these devices and between the mobile app and these devices should be fast and robust.

Otherwise, the system will experience snags. The requirement of IoT devices will increase, and companies are expected to spend more on IoT devices in the coming years . To harness the potential of IoT, companies will require efficient mobile apps.

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Ganastin Lasatin
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