The Internet of Things is penetrating every aspect of our daily life. 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.
IoT devices can be absolutely anything and anywhere: door locks, plugs, lights, appliances, vehicles, wearables and other incredible options. Besides, IoT technologies extend not only to cyber-physical systems for domestic use but to industrial facilities as well. Two more concepts have been developed: Building Internet of Things (BIoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Such a staggering pace of IoT growth is possible due to the proliferation of wireless networks, cloud computing, M2M connectivity and software-defined networking development.
As the IoT trend morphs into an industry, the need for reliable, comprehensive developer toolkits is increasing. IoT developer toolkits provide teams with the tools they need to access specific networks, test hardware responses to application changes and manage updates. The driving force behind the Internet of Things projects is more accessible hardware and more flexible programming languages.
Tools for the Internet of Things (IoT) Development
IoT development generally requires 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 may be a connected home environment system that allows the user to monitor the temperature of the home and adjust the thermostat settings remotely, or it could be a security system that tracks movements within a building and alerts specified users of changes.
Developing applications for connected devices generally requires that the solution provide the following:
- Endpoint authentication
- Session creation
- Session destruction and logout
- User accounts and management
- Individual user billing details as needed
- User recent API activity
- Individual device data plan details
- Individual device details
- Device claiming and activation
- Device ordering
- Incoming and outgoing SMS management
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. Connecting with the right talent is necessary to creating valuable solutions that fill this market need.
IoT Development Platforms
IoT development tools help create smart objects. The first thing you need in order to build and launch connected products is a platform. There are plenty available today. 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 enables connecting all types of devices and easily developing custom IoT solutions. The advantages of IBM Watson are obvious: quick and secure connectivity; an ability to control your data flows; online data analyzing; the visualization of critical risks and the automation of operational responses to them.
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.
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; 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.
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.
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. This is a cloud-based system that offers both software and hardware. It can be used even by beginner programmers.
Home Assistant. This tool is aimed at the smart home market and is great for interaction with smart sensors in your home. The downside is that it doesn’t have a cloud component.
Zetta. This is 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. This is 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. This is a browser-based tool for wiring the Internet of Things together. It helps deal with the flow of the data, integrates with APIs, services and any devices.
Best IoT Development Kits 2017
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 2017 for hobbyists and startups.
- ARM mBed
- Microsoft Azure IoT Starter Kits
- Kinoma Create
- Ninja Sphere
- AWS IoT Starter Kits
- Helium Development Kit
The Internet of Things makes ordinary physical objects smarter and broadens the horizons. Together with these amazing possibilities, security problems arise, as all the connected devices are subject to cyber-attacks and data leaks. That’s why security points have to be integrated at every stage of IoT services development and deployment.
A special organization — The IoT Security Foundation — was launched in 2015 in England. This is evidence that the world of IoT has become an integral part of modern society and its safety is on the agenda.
IoT Statistics and Forecast
The IoT ecosystem is currently experiencing a period of rapid growth. According to Ericsson, in 2018, the number of smart sensors and devices will exceed the number of mobile phones and will become the largest category of connected devices.
Analysts of the company predict that by 2022, there will be about 29 billion connected devices, and around 16 billion of them will be associated with IoT.
According to the statistics portal Statista, the global smart home market will reach almost $60 billion in 2017.
Experts also anticipate the increase of investments in IoT security technologies. Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 25% of attacks in enterprises will involve IoT. It is expected that spending on IoT security will reach $547 million in 2018.