The Beginning and some basics
Today we are going to look at IoT app development. But for better understanding how to develop apps for the Internet of Things, we need to cover some basics. Let’s look at what IoT is, how complex IoT application is, what can help us with that complexity and what are the prospects of the industry.
Welcome to the future. Oh yes, it is now! Just fifteen or so years ago there was a very popular joke.
Two blokes were chatting at the CeBIT:
-All that progress is happening too fast. – said one of them. – I am quite sure, that rather soon my coffee machine would start sending my emails.
– Oh, don’t you worry, – was the answer. – She would start sending her own emails!
The tendency was seen then, and is in-power now: the world is moving towards ubiquitous computing. A Brit by the name Kevin Ashton coined the term “Internet of Things” close to the end of the previous Millennia. The internet of things, or IoT, is the physical devices’ network, with “devices” including sensors, actuators, vehicles, smart buildings/spaces/rooms and the vast majority of embedded devices and systems, an instance of a broader cyber-physical systems class. IoT allows all those objects to become digital representatives of the physical world, with a remote access and control via existing network infrastructure. Network connectivity allows these various devices, “things”, objects not only to collect but also to exchange data, that results in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit.
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All that became possible because of three main factors:
• A dramatic drop in the cost of sensors from $25 in the early nineties to less than a dollar for now.
• New ultramodern data storage technologies: the “things” produce huge amounts of data, it all must be collected, sent, sorted and stored. Cloud storage technologies help a lot in managing big data.
• The number of mobile devices. It is not even a growth, it is an explosion! According to The Independent, in the Autumn of 2014 the number of people on Earth crossed with the number of active mobile devices on the 7.19 billion mark. Ever since, it is not our planet any more, they easily outnumber us.
Automation everywhere, from weather sensors and smart farming equipment, through ingenious healthcare and sporting stuff, to smart homes and smart grids, even smart cities! All that became possible with brilliant new technology.
That means the market is on its way up. And “up” equals “sky high”. With anticipated 25-26 billion “things” by 2020, it is an enormous playground with virtually unlimited possibilities.
From this perspective, many enterprises interested in new ideas, are starting new projects in order to make an own internet of things app, yet some are pushed away by seemingly high cost to build an IoT app and its complexity. In fact, there is a solution lowering the entry effort to a level acceptable by business of any size. There exist a number of developers suggesting a very interesting and capable solution: an IoT development platform.
You see, an IoT application has four design factors:
1. ”Things” themselves, they dictate protocols and communication methods.
2. Ingestion tier – the software and infrastructure that receives and organizes the data coming from the things. It could run in data centers or be cloud-based.
3. Analytics tier – responsible for processing of the organized data.
4. End user stage – an application, a Web interface or perhaps a mobile app users communicate with.
The last two are of the main interest to you if you are building your new IoT project, while the complex and heavy jobs of ingestion and communicating with “things” are subject to outsourcing to the likes of Buglabs, Carriots, Mnubo, SeeControl, ThingWorx or Xively, the developers of Internet of Things platforms. These platforms could be very wide, not only communicating with the equipment and including ingestion systems, but also helping with the last two stages by incorporating analytics tier and providing API to connect the platform with the end-user software, built upon it.
Many successful internet of things startups are serving as proof that these IoT development platforms are the answer to “how to build an iot app, keeping the price at bay”. For examples we may refer to AdhereTech, Neura and some more hot IoT startups.
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IoT mobile app solutions are also on demand and many companies have platform suggestions including Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad) support.
How much does it cost to make an IoT app
Everything depends on complexity, as usual. With not too complex hybrid (iOS and Android) projects, including firmware upgrade functionality, text data streams and under 20 nodes in single subnet, taking around 700-750 man-hours to build and bigger projects taking those hours for developing of each part of corresponding size. Do not forget the UI development, and the idea of outsourcing mobile development to specifically dedicated specialists can seriously reduce the cost of your project.
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With high demand, great forecasts and virtually endless possibilities IoT is the future-tech today. Investing into cutting edge technologies has always been not only promising and profitable but also interesting and intellectually satisfying. And with all these new options and great assistance of off-shelf solutions both in modern hardware and IoT development platforms, building IoT projects is much easier than ever. Start one! But don’t forget to lock up your boots, clothes and motorcycle!