Do you want to build an IoT application? It’s a great idea! It seems that every year, there are new products entering the market that can connect to the world wide web, from fridges to cars to clothes. Pretty soon, almost everything in a modern home, building, or even city will connect to the Internet. However, this comes with security and technical implications that few companies can meet. You’ll need to understand the ins and outs of IoT before you can create an IoT app of your own.
In this article, we’ll explain what IoT is and how to build IoT applications for beginners.
Why Build an IoT application?
Before you can build IoT device apps, you have to understand how they will be used. The Internet of Things refers to a range of physical objects that have been equipped with sensors, processing abilities, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices or systems over the web or other communication networks.
The Internet of Things will help people live and work smarter by collecting, analyzing, and utilizing data in a smarter way. In addition to automating homes, businesses, and even government services (e.g., education, healthcare, and transport), IoT apps can provide companies with an instant, real-time look into how their systems really work. These insights can be used to improve the performance of machines, increase outputs or even perform predictive maintenance to reduce breakdowns in factories.
Companies are already building IoT applications that automate processes and reduce costs. Think of smart lighting. Smart lighting in buildings has Bluetooth sensors that can interact with cellphones and determine when a room is empty, so when no one is using an office, it will switch off the lights and even the air conditioning. It’s better for the environment and will keep your electricity costs low. When paired with the right apps, these lights can also collect insights about the building and the people that use it. Versions of this technology are already being rolled out to control street lights and reduce the carbon footprint of major cities, but there’s really no limit to what IoT apps can do.
Which Components Make Up an IoT App?
What do you need to create IoT applications? The features will vary on the audience and the use case. Every IoT system consists of four main components, including hardware, software, cloud and network.
Hardware includes Bluetooth or Wi-Fi sensors that can connect your appliance or product to the Internet. Building your own hardware isn’t really feasible; there are several third-party off-the-shelf hardware companies that can implement your idea or build custom hardware that suits your solution. Mobile devices can also be considered part of the hardware that will make up your IoT system.
Software for IoT refers to a cloud-based dashboard that will collect information and control IoT devices connected to it, including bulbs, cameras, locks, thermostats or other devices. The cloud will process the data and store it, while the network will send data from the mobile phone to the sensors and devices and back, linking all of the devices.
How To Build Your IoT App
Before you can build your app, you should pick a platform to build your app on. You can choose any platform you prefer, but the costs will vary. Common platforms include ThingWorx, Xively, Azure IoT Suite, Oracle IoT, Ubidots, and IBM Watson. IoT developers need their apps to have the ability to connect to a huge variety of different devices from various manufacturers (mobile phones, tablets, laptops) as well as low-energy sensors. Apple HomeKit is a great tool because it will provide the guidelines you’ll need to create IoT software, and you can connect devices to the Siri voice assistant. It also comes with its own API, so you can access devices outside of Apple.
Choosing the hardware is your next step. The hardware should simultaneously meet your product needs and accurately connect to a number of devices. You should always choose sensors made by reliable companies. You should also plan for scale early on. If your app takes off, you’ll need the ability to securely collect huge volumes of data from thousands of different devices. This is also why your IoT app has to be fast. If your devices can’t collect and process data quickly, there’s lag, which will degrade the experience your customers will have with the app. Performance and high-speed connections are of the essence in the IoT world.
Finally, consider how you will protect your IoT application and the data it collects. IoT applications collect huge volumes of sensitive information that customers would not want falling into the wrong hands. IoT devices in modern offices have caused major security breaches because they are usually not protected in the same way end-user devices like laptops are. Smart TVs connected to the network have been easy entry points for hackers in the past.
Security breaches do not just impact businesses. As homes, cars, and wearable healthcare devices connect to the Internet; it becomes even more important to keep data safe.
How to Secure Your IoT App
There are a few tips you should bear in mind when building your IoT app so that you ensure the safety of your users:
- Choose your vendors carefully, preferably ones that are run by or that have security specialists on staff that can identify software vulnerabilities.
- Always use proven IoT platforms that are tested and updated regularly.
- Make sure that you consider physical attacks as well. Data stored on devices should be encrypted and protected in case they get lost or stolen.
- Use protected networks that encrypt data that moves between your app and devices.
- Use tools like two-factor authentication to keep your app and devices secured.
This doesn’t mean that building an app has to be complex. According to this article, you can easily build an app yourself – it’s just a matter of choosing the best vendors to support you.
Anyone can build an IoT application, but building a secure and useful app means doing your research and finding the best tools and platforms to support your vision and bring it to life.