For more than a decade, the Internet of Things has been nothing more than a nerdy concept. With the digital age in high gear, however, that notion seems to be finally gaining momentum. Dynamic players in the computer, automobile, and even real estate sectors are steadily coming to terms with the immense potential of IoT.
In fact, experts speculate that by 2020, a whopping 75 billion devices will be part of the Internet of Things, running apps that will enable them to work together to deliver their intended services seamlessly and with little human intervention.
Going solely by this context, it is not surprising that the increasing popularity of IoT is having a ripple effect on the app sector. Although innovators of all stripes have tapped into the technology, few are making as much use of the Internet of Things like today’s app developers. By exploiting the ubiquity of IoT, along with the power of Big Data, app makers are uncovering a new, auspicious way of finding customers.
As technology ages on, IoT apps are set to become the new phase of development, where applications will connect numerous devices, sensors and cloud services to serve unique, thrilling purposes. This article explores how the Internet of Things is impacting the app industry, where Big Data fits in, and what lies ahead.
The IoT, Big Data Revolution
The idea of incorporating artificial intelligence into electronic devices kicked into full gear several years ago, with the adoption of RFID tags — low-power chips that enable wireless communication across gadgets.
Today, however, IoT has expanded to include a myriad of internet-enabled devices, all which can collect and share data amongst themselves. Because of cheaper and more robust computing hardware, better apps and reliable wireless networks, it is now possible to make anything, from a coffee maker to an airplane, an IoT device.
Defining the Internet of Things
Anyone hearing the phrase “the Internet of Things” for the first time will likely find it silly and void of meaning. Behind this buzzword, however, is one of the most important technological revolutions ever. Through IoT, the internet is changing from a connection of computers to a mega-network that links everything around you.
With that in mind, the Internet of Things can be defined as an extension of computing and networking capabilities to devices that are not regarded as computers, enabling them to interact with each other with little to no human input. Therefore, rather than emphasizing the direct use of computers by humans, IoT technology gives devices without screens the ability to connect to the internet and access live data by themselves.
If you’re wondering what it means to have IoT devices in your life, think about it this way: every “dumb” device you have in your home needs a certain degree of help from you to work. Your living room lights require you to put them on, your AC needs to be manually set, and your TV demands that you fetch the ever-elusive remote to control it.
IoT is all about removing as much friction as possible, so you can make your life easier without even trying. With smart devices, you can set up your watering system to avoid watering the lawn after it rains, or your garage to open when you’re pulling up to the driveway. Your heating system could also work with the motion sensors in the house and the temperature sensors outside to give a perfect balance.
The Internet of Things brings all these exciting possibilities and much more to the table. And, it’s not just small startups with lofty dreams of changing the world that are driving the IoT revolution. Big names like Philips, Nokia and Fitbit are getting involved as well. Phillips Hue, for instance, promises to give you more control of the lighting in your home, so you can sit back while your light gradually ramps up the brightness as the sun sets, among other exciting gimmicks.
Where Does Big Data Come in?
Big Data analytics has had a significant part to play in the progressing IoT revolution. Because the conversion of objects into smart devices enables them to acquire and manage data from the internet, their chips and apps are designed mainly to collect data that specifies product performance and consumer usage patterns.
Handling, storing, and utilizing data from new IoT devices need a broad range of hardware and software infrastructure, and there are no better tools for the job than Big Data analytics. So, simply put, IoT can provide “big data” from which Big Data analytics can gather information and generate the insights required to make the IoT device better. With Big Data tools, IoT organizations are able to analyze the evolving data sets and therefore adapt to changing consumer trends.
IoT, Big Data, And The App Movement
The Internet of Things and Big Data promise the premise of a new wave of app development: IoT apps. These two innovations enable the combination of sensors, devices, networks and cloud technologies to yield countless new approaches for app making.
Currently, most computer applications are used as endpoints to their human users for purposes like streaming music, locating businesses, playing games and social media. By leveraging the power of IoT and Big Data, apps can become gateways as well as endpoints, so that, in addition to facilitating human-device interaction, they can also enable device-device connectivity.
Apps, particularly mobile applications, can also function as sensors, as users can use native OS functionality to collect data from a vast array of devices in the IoT network. Manufacturers of home appliances can employ specific appsto identify user patterns and preferences and improve their products accordingly. Additionally, data regarding your location can also be communicated from your phone or smartwatch to an IoT device like your heater, which can turn on automatically when you’re on your way home.
Evidently, the Internet of Things presents numerous opportunities for app developers. While IoT offers new ways for devices to connect and communicate, these connections can only be useful to their human users through apps. The use of apps to bridge new smart objects to mainstream devices like smartphones and smartwatches is perhaps the most important aspect of IoT.
What is next for IoT Applications?
IoT is still in its early stages and developers are in the process of adapting to it. Therefore, the path towards the mainstream adoption of IoT applications is still somewhat undefined. Regardless, some trends are sure to take hold in the coming years.
For starters, while the current process of developing an app starts by defining the app’s purpose, developers will need to understand the technology of the “thing” itself so they can build applications that seamlessly connect it to the digital world. With this understanding, it will also be possible for them to come up with apps that interlink many devices in one unified IoT platform. Such multi-faceted applications will let users interact with an entire gamut of devices simultaneously.
New modes of connectivity are also likely to surface to enhance IoT connectivity. Although cellular services, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth have been working well with current devices, IoT will require robust networks to connect high-tech sensors and multi-platform electronics. App developers will, therefore, need to hunt for innovative ways to pair devices.
More importantly, there will be even more collaboration between manufacturers of smart devices and app developers to come up with complete IoT products. Artificial intelligence will power a majority of IoT gadgets for automated learning, which means the applications will likely come pre-installed on the devices, rather than call upon the end user to install them.
IoT and Big Data have already started to change the face of app development, thanks primarily to mobile technology. Within the next few years, you can expect the creation of thousands of jobs in this space.
As developers continue to ponder on the best way to take advantage of IoT and Big Data, it won’t be long before the app industry fully embraces the two innovations.