Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Alfred Beiley, an app developer working with 360 Degree Technosoft, a fast-growing mobile application development company.
How do you stand out as a developer? With the IoT wave coming in soon, how aptly are your prepared to develop applications for it?
Internet of Things is the future. It is a technology that connects physical objects to internet and allows to be controlled remotely. However, just connecting them to Internet is not that interesting. Combining them with applications and cloud makes it more useful. Businesses now have the power to evolve their interactions and operations.
Most experts believe that Internet of Things will grow huge. Two-thirds of consumers are predicted to buy the connected technology for domestic use by 2019. Acquity Group, an Accenture company, expect around of half of them are looking to buy wearable technology. Moreover, business and industrial “things” to grow up to 26 billion by 2019, which is 30-fold, compared to 2009.
For developers, they will be looking to build an app that will help consumers to interact with the physical world through their apps.
Understanding Internet of Things
Probably the biggest question for the developer is “what is the best way to build an IoT application?” To start with, as a developer, you must know what your application will do. Will it gather meteorological data from sensors to create daily weather forecast? Will it control a kitchen appliance remotely? However, while working with IoT. You must know its structure. It is divided into four tiers.
First tier: Things themselves
These devices have no screen but carry low-power processor with some operating system and a way to communicate directly with internet or to neighboring things, which has an internet connection.
Second tier: Software and infrastructure
It is an ingestion tier that runs in the data center or cloud and manages the streams of data coming from the things. The software is always responsible for managing the things and updating the firmware whenever required.
Third tier: Analytics
This tier does the processing of organized data. Processing of the data varies from app to app depending on their objective.
Fourth tier: End-user
At user’s end, the application allows the user actually to interact with the things and check their status. The app can be enterprise application, web app or mobile app.
As a developer, you will be mostly working on last two tiers. You require a necessary tool to deal with edge devices or gateways. Like any other app development, the developer will have to make an app with great user experience using beautiful design, latest UI, speed and customization options. In case you are developing a business app, you will have to focus on real-time workflow, which includes automated employee responses, data integrity, and ability to scale it.
Ready-made Internet of Things Platform
It is more sensible to make applications on top of ready-made IoT platform. These platforms have an ingestion tier that continuously archives incoming data and analytics tier. Moreover, the platform contains thin provisioning, activation and management capabilities, real-time message bus, and API for communication between application and platforms.
Companies like Xively, Mnubo, Thing Worx and Bug Labs offer these platforms. These platforms have capability to interact with “things” produced by different manufacturers. This companies can be easily become part of big players in the software development industry like Oracle, which will reap huge advantages in terms technology development. Another advantage ready-made platforms have is scalability.
Things to keep in mind while developing IoT apps
So, what does IoT bring to you exactly? There is no definite answer as the scope of IoT is vast and endless. There are many things a developer has to keep in mind as this technology is still under development, and no one knows how quickly the changes may occur.
- Creating an app that will respond to changes in surrounding environment, data exchange with other applications and learn from its own experience may seem little daunting. Developers have to keep in mind that they will communicate with a physical thing with their app and physical things have limitations.
- Most of the initial development is concerned with household objects. Hence, developers must know how to use the data objects receive from the user. Nike has developed a hardware that tracks workouts and other fitness activities. The app creates charts from the data received from the hardware to help the user to understand the daily pattern.
- The major issue that present IoT app developers will face is that currently apps interact only with one device. Hence, the user will have to use number of different apps to communicate with different devices in the house. Developers must try to make an app that can share data with other apps to make it more practical.
- Another key thing developer must keep in mind is to integrate business potential from the data collected from the devices and products with business intelligence systems like ERP, CRM, and logistics.
The Internet of Things is relatively new for the developers as well as users. Developers can make sure the success of the app by offering an app that is scalable and can be upgraded at a rapid rate. There is no doubt that Internet of things gives a huge opportunity for application developers in coming time. Though currently it is focused on business-based applications, the average user will benefit from new and creative apps.