The Internet of Things is penetrating every aspect of our daily life, so the IoT phenomenon is already around us: it is made up of the ordinary objects we use at home, at work or in the streets. The difference is that all these objects and devices are computerized. They have embedded network connectivity, can communicate with phones and other gadgets, get information and remain under control. Today, we are talking about the most popular IoT tools and technologies used for creating such smart things.
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The IoT development is based on the integration of hardware and software components so that the final product works according to the principle of the management of both an actuator and an endpoint. The actuator monitors the connected device, searching for a specific value that energizes the endpoint into action.
This can be a connected home environment system that allows the user to monitor the temperature of the home and adjust the thermostat settings remotely, or a security system that tracks movements within a building and alerts specified users of changes.
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More generally, an IoT system consists of four integral parts:
- Hardware (sensors and devices)
- Software (an application with a user interface)
- Connectivity (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi)
- Data processing algorithms
Tools for the Internet of Things (IoT) Development
As the IoT trend is transforming into an industry, the need for reliable and comprehensive developer toolkits is increasing. IoT development tools empower teams with the ability to create applications, access specific networks, test hardware responses to application changes and manage updates.
IoT Development Platforms
The first thing you need for building and launching connected products is a platform. Each platform can be an ideal fit for some applications, but not for others, due to the different characteristics that come with it. Below we’ve listed some popular IoT development platforms.
This platform allows for connecting all types of devices and easily developing custom IoT solutions. The advantages of IBM Watson are obvious:
- Quick and secure connectivity
- Ability to control data flows
- Online data analysis
- Visualization of critical risks
- The automation of operational responses
The Azure IoT development platform by Microsoft has some important capabilities. It enables you to collect, analyze and visualize data, integrate it with back-office systems, store and process large data sets and manage devices. Azure is highly scalable, and it supports a great number of devices and operating systems.
AWS (Amazon Web Services)
AWS is a managed cloud-based platform that supports billions of devices around the world. It provides secure and easy interaction even if the devices are offline. Amazon’s data centers are equipped with multiple security levels and ensure seamless access and the safety of your data. The main advantage of this platform is that no hardware infrastructure is needed. AWS offers low prices without long-term commitments.
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IoT Operating Systems
When choosing a platform, it’s necessary to decide on the operating system. There are certain limitations to be considered: low processing power, a smaller amount of RAM and storage. The most commonly used operating systems for such built-in computers are Linux, Android and Ubuntu Core. But there is a great number of other IoT OSs available.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list:
- RIOT is a free operating system developed by a community consisting of companies, academia and hobbyists. RIOT supports most low-power devices and microcontroller architecture. It implements all relevant standards to ensure that the Internet of Things is connected, secure, durable and provides privacy protection.
- Contiki is an open-source operating system for the Internet of Things created by a worldwide team of developers. It provides powerful low-power Internet communication, supports fully standard IPv6 and IPv4, along with the recent low-power wireless standards: 6lowpan, RPL and CoAP. Contiki runs on a range of low-power wireless devices; its applications are written in standard C, and development with Contiki is easy and fast.
- ARM mbed OS is an open-source embedded operating system. It includes all the necessary features to develop a connected product. Mbed OS provides multilayer security and a wide range of communication options with drivers for Bluetooth Low Energy, Thread, 6LoWPAN, Ethernet and WiFi. What’s more, necessary libraries are included automatically on your devices to facilitate code writing.
- The ThingBox is a set of software already installed and configured on an SDCard. The ThingBox allows anyone to graphically create new unlimited applications interacting with connected objects from a simple web-browser. This OS is suitable and easy-to-use for both technical people and users with no technical background.
- Huawei LiteOS is a lightweight, low energy, efficient operating system. It starts up within milliseconds and responds within microseconds. LiteOS coordinates multiple sensors and supports long- and short-distance communication.
- Raspbian is one of the most widely used platforms for the Internet of Things. It is a free system optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware. Raspbian includes basic programs and utilities to make the hardware run, but it also compiles more than 35,000 packages and pre-compiled software for easy installation.
- Android Things is an operating system from Google. It lets you build professional, mass-market products on a trusted platform, without previous knowledge of embedded system design. Android Things provides you with leverage for the existing Android development tools, APIs, resources and regular security updates. Android Things ensures the development of IoT products at scale.
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IoT Programming Languages
Nowadays, IoT software uses more general programming languages than it used to. The choice of language for your smart service depends on its compatibility with the system, the code size and memory, general requirements and whether your developer is familiar with this or that language. Some languages are suitable for general-purpose projects (e.g. Java), others are more specific (e.g. Parasail). Here is a list of the main languages in use:
- C and C++ are quite universal and familiar to many programmers. Both languages are created to be written for the hardware they are running on, which helps provide ideal code for a special built-in system.
- Java is rather mobile and is able to run on various hardware. This is a real advantage for IoT.
- Python is an interpreted language, so it is flexible and easy to use in the IoT world. Python is especially good for data-heavy applications.
- Go, Rust, Forth, Parasail, B# — these languages were not modified, but specifically designed for embedded programming, so they fit the Internet of Things like a glove.
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Open-Source Tools for the Internet of Things
IoT developers have numerous open-source tools for the Internet of Things at their disposal. Utilizing the tools we’ve listed below, you’ll be able to develop successful solutions with ease.
Arduino Starter Kit — a cloud-based system that offers both software and hardware. It can be used even by beginner programmers.
Home Assistant — the tool aimed is at the smart home market and is great for interaction with smart sensors in your house. The downside is that it doesn’t have a cloud component.
Zetta — a cloud-based platform built on Node.js. Zetta is perfect for turning devices into API.
Device Hive — this tool functions as an M2M communications framework. Device Hive is quite popular for the development of smart homes.
ThingSpeak — one of the oldest and most effective tools for IoT applications in the market. ThingSpeak can process huge sums of data, it is used in web design applications and location tracking tasks. This tool is able to work with other open-source tools.
NOD-RED — a browser-based tool for wiring the Internet of Things together. It helps you deal with the flow of the data, integrate with APIs, services and any devices.
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Best IoT Development Kits
IoT development is interesting not only for large organizations but for small businesses and individual developers as well. Here’s a top list of the best tools for the Internet of Things for hobbyists and startups.
- ARM mBed
- Microsoft Azure IoT Starter Kits
- Kinoma Create
- Ninja Sphere
- AWS IoT Starter Kits
- Helium Development Kit
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Be Smart — Create Smart Things
IoT solutions distinguish mainstream technology companies from those on the leading edge. Even companies that operate primarily outside of the tech sector will see benefits in terms of marketplace recognition and brand identity when successful smart initiatives are launched.
The driving force behind the Internet of Things projects is accessible hardware and flexible programming languages. But what is equally important, is the connection with the right talent for creating valuable solutions. Versatile experience and a deep understanding of all aspects of the development process enable our IoT experts to work on IoT projects of any complexity. Please contact our consultant for more information.