Max Hornostaiev, CTO of Erminesoft.com. Being a CTO, I always try to hold on to memories of my first programming experience at school and university, the devotion and passion for learning new things, exploring new technologies and engaging in constant self-development. Now, having more than 10 years of experience in IT field, I am sure the key for growth is knowledge sharing. I lead Erminesoft tech team with this in mind, giving advice, teaching as well as sharing useful information at Erminesoft blog. I will be happy to connect at LinkedIn and Twitter.
At the heart of Internet of Things (IoT) concept lays the idea of ubiquitous Internet, mobile technology, and social media. In this case, the idea is supported by our desire to make the world more convenient, easier, productive and secure in the broadest sense.
MOBILE APPLICATIONS AND IoT
Tens, if not hundreds of “smart” devices usage models exist. Every day the market beholds the rise of dozens of startups with new products and devices. And mobile applications are at the center of this movement. Today, smartphones are omnipresent, the owners do not part with them even for a minute, so it is only natural that mobile platforms are often chosen as a base for applications that manage and control the IoT devices.
IoT example: a Smart Home technology
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF INTEGRATION WITH MOBILE OPERATING SYSTEMS?
Ease of access
Internet of things nodes can be reached from anywhere in the world. Anytime. Wherever there is access to the Internet.
Ease of sharing
Integration with social media and cloud services for information sharing with colleagues, family, and friends.
No manuals are needed. Devices can be controlled via a smartphone with the help of intuitive interface.
All devices’ settings are displayed in and managed by the mobile app on a smartphone.
Lots of possibilities
Modern mobile technologies allow organizing network management and processing large amounts of data.
The flexibility of mobile platforms
Mobile OSes can implement many opportunities based on different models of smartphones and tablets.
MOBILE SOLUTIONS DEVELOPMENT IN THE IoT-PROJECTS
When developing solutions for the IoT, one must provide the network connectivity, security, and privacy. Moreover, given the nature of the devices with a permanent network connection, attention must be paid to the power consumption, performance, memory usage, and firmware update. These are the most important factors determining the success of IoT-solutions.
Of course, there are solutions that use fab ready platforms with built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GSM connectivity, but IoT also uses the unique protocols. They are oriented to work with short control signals and minimum delays.
KNX is a modern industry standard used for automation by companies such as ABB and Siemens. Protocol features already allow reliable bilateral connections between sensors, various system devices and manipulators. As a transmission medium, cables (twisted-pair Ethernet), power grids and radio channels can be used. The data rate in real solutions can be up to 9600 bps, which is more than enough for IoT purposes.
IEEE 802.15.4 is a relatively novel international standard. The emphasis here is made at the lowest cost, power consumption, and ease of use. In general, the range of data transmission in such networks is not more than 10 meters with data rates up to 250 Kbps. Networks can be ad-hoc (peer-to-peer), or have a “star” topology. But in all cases there should be at least one coordinating device (FFD).
Based on 802.15.4 standard is a top-level family of protocols called ZigBee. It is currently developed by the ZigBee Alliance organization, consisting of many independent manufacturers. The family is open source, and for non-commercial purposes, it can be used without a license. Maximum transmission/reception speed is up to 20 Kbps using 868 MHz frequency and 250 Kbps at a frequency of 2,4 GHz, respectively. Interaction distance ranges between 10 and 75 meters with 1 milliwatt transmitter maximum output power. The main feature of the ZigBee technology is that despite its low power consumption, not only does it support the simple network topologies ( “point-to-point”, “tree” and “star”), but also allows creating a self-organizing and self-healing mesh networks with message relaying and routing . List of manufacturers using ZigBee in their products includes such renowned companies as Bosch, Indesit, and Climax.
A competing protocol is called Z-Wave. Unlike the open source ZigBee, it is proprietary. The chips are designed and manufactured only by Sigma Designs. Radio channels up to 1 GHz frequency are used, with maximum connection distance of 30 m. The data rate can be 9.6, 40 or 100 Kbps. Unfortunately, this protocol has problems with the used frequency bands. So, if for ZigBee the used frequencies differ only between Europe and North America, for Z-Wave, they are different in America, Europe, China, Australia, Russia, Hong Kong, etc. This makes it difficult to produce standardized equipment for all consumers. A large amount of hardware developers supports this protocol, like Danfoss, Duewi, Euronic, and others.
Until recently, car computers, machine tools, robots, and such, were created based on the isolated environment. In this sense, they are similar to personal computers before a wide spread of the Internet – users then had a little worry about computer viruses. All kinds of machines only recently gained access to the Internet, and with it came security problems.
The problem is so serious that it is considered at the highest levels. The report of the World Economic Forum says that the development of a common approach to security problems is the most necessary step for the successful development of IoT.
First and foremost, the security measures should be implemented to smart cars, commercial vehicles, aircraft, as well as agricultural and construction machinery.
As beacons, sensors, cameras, smart glasses are applied everywhere, and the data they collect is sent to the connected world, it is possible to find out where the person is and what they are doing at the moment. Behavior and consumption models – from food to entertainment – can be made public. Moreover, with the improvement of computing devices and system algorithms behavior can be predicted with increasing accuracy.
Companies that develop products and systems for the Internet of things should understand clearly when using the personal data is possible, and when it is better to remove the personal identifiers. Though the task seems quite simple, in fact, it is not so easy. A steadily growing volume of collected data allows identifying the person with increasing precision, even if no primary identification was provided. For example, a static device IP-address may not be used, and it looks like the personal data is secure. But if the data from the event logs, cell calls and text messages, time stamps of cellular base stations, points of payment and computers, as well as details of credit cards operations are analyzed, then the identification of the person is simple enough.
With the significant increase in the embedded devices market and the number of end-points, connected to the network and to each other, there is already a strong need for software developers who understand the complexity of the ecosystem in which components and boards manufacturers, suppliers of ready-made systems and integrator companies subsist, and have significant experience in the development of mobile solutions.
Simply put, someone has to “force” the manufacturer’s sensors, devices or equipment to “speak the language” of the end user, to ensure the collection of necessary information, its analysis, display, and interaction with systems of other manufacturers. Specific details of such “languages” may differ depending on the tasks of a particular OEM, most of which do not have sufficient resources and opportunities to customize their production to individual customers’ requests. This is where the help of an experienced software development company is priceless.
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