You've likely heard some news about "smart devices," and maybe you even have some in your home or place of business already. But what exactly is the IoT?
You’ve likely heard some news about “smart devices,” and maybe you even have some in your home or place of business already. The smart device movement adds internet accessibility to things like appliances and vehicles, and even to buildings themselves. For example, this allows you to do things like check the contents of your refrigerator while away from home, or to get detailed information about your vehicle’s status and current performance from your smartphone.
Collectively, all of these smart devices connected to the internet are referred to as the "Internet of Things." Basically, devices that aren’t computers, tablets or phones and have some sort of internet accessibility or function make up the IoT. There are many exciting possibilities in networking so many different aspects of life in this way, and since nearly everyone now has a smartphone or some sort of mobile device, these devices are rapidly becoming the main interface through which people access and interact with the IoT.
So what are some ways in which you can expect to make use of the IoT through your phone or mobile device in the near future?
Functions of home energy management and security can be controlled for convenience, enhanced security and cost savings. A theoretical fully integrated “smart home” would allow you to remotely check the status of and activate or deactivate locks and appliances, adjust the temperature, check security cameras, or set a DVR to record a program. Likewise, in a business setting, one could also check security system status or open locks up for contractors or custodial staff remotely.
We’re already seeing advanced wearable smart exercise devices on the market that collect a wide variety of physiological data, like blood pressure and heart rate. Integrating these with a mobile app would allow this data to be collected and analyzed over time, contributing both to better physical fitness and better health outcomes. Both internal and external medical devices can also potentially incorporate this remote monitoring functionality — everything from a pacemaker to a knee brace.
One of the ultimate goals of the IoT movement is to have fully wired cities that can provide a continual stream of valuable data, and even make automated adjustments to improve the health, safety and convenience of residents. The range of data that citizens could access through mobile apps is vast. You could always see exactly where a bus, train or ferry currently is, for example. Or see how crowded a particular venue or restaurant currently is before you go. There are additionally many possibilities for crowdsourced data reported in real time by end users.
All of this is well and good, but it leaves one glaring issue: how are people going to control all these different functions? Are they just going to have a ton of apps, like a virtual basket of remote controls, on top of all the other apps they already use? And in addition to this interface issue, what standard protocols will all of these devices use to ensure that they can communicate with each other?
This is where there is a huge opening right now for mobile app developers to step in with innovative solutions for streamlining the coming deluge of Internet of Things connectivity. Big industry players such as IBM, Oracle and Cisco already have projects in the works, but clear standards have still not emerged at present. The independent XMPP Standards Foundation is also worth looking into for aspiring IoT developers, and knowledge of 6LowPAN is going to be absolutely critical as the Internet of Things will simply not be able to function without all of the new IP addresses that IPv6 provides.
If you’re interested in creating apps for the Internet of Things (or for any other purpose), our firm offers custom IoT development for clients all over the world. Contact us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions and give you a more in-depth look at the services we provide.