how to build IoT apps

IoT App Use Cases Across Industries

The devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) industry are usually edge devices that often don’t have screens, but have a low-power processor, an OS, and communication via one or more protocols. These devices may connect directly to the Internet or an Internet gateway device.

The information gathered by IoT devices is consumed by software and infrastructure at a corporate data center. It is at this location that the data is organized and managed. Then comes process and analysis of the data and at the end the user gets to interact with it.

IoT devices can go further than locally embedded processing to access and exploit remote supercomputing nodes. This allows these gadgets to run complicated analyses, make decisions and respond quickly. Most often, no human intervention is needed.

So whenever you build apps for IoT, it’s usually the analysis and user experience that will be crucial.

As a result, experts believe that it is better to develop apps over a ready-made platform. These platforms often collect and archive the collected data, analyze it, provision it, and activate management options.

The ready-made IoT platforms such as Microsoft, SAP, ThingWorx and Xively come equipped to communicate with a large variety of devices produced by various manufacturers. An advantage of using platforms that are already available is the scalability that’s been proven. As this IoT category is quite new, it needs tried and tested methods to provide the experience that users expect. Application developers also need to build such apps quickly and having a reliable IoT platform can speed up the development process.

To date, MS Windows is an IoT platform of choice, reportedly used by 94% of all developers (of whom nearly 44% develop on Windows 7, around 38% - on Windows 8, and 7% on Windows 10). Apple Mac OS accounts for less than 2% and Linux accounts for 3.1% of the IoT platforms market share.

When it comes to IoT, it’s the applications that make this system of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications possible. The basic aim of these intelligent software systems is to manage the devices and the networks they operate on. The apps are used to generate, organize, store massive amounts of data, and process it, and present it in a user-friendly manner.

When you look at apps from an IoT perspective, two categories of applications pop out. Although there are countless apps being developed for various industries, they can be simply categorized as A and B.

Category A: remote track, command, control and route (TCC&R) apps

Category A is comprised of diverse “smart” and interconnected gadgets with unique IDs that interact with other devices, infrastructure, as well as the physical environment. The apps in this category basically play a remote track, command, control and route (TCC&R) role.

These apps are not data mining user behaviors for marketing, but they are mining to increase M2M automation, machine-to-infrastructure (M2I), and machine-to-nature (M2N) communications with the goal of simplifying the life of the end user.

Apps in the category will be catering to the remote control and maintenance, metering, consumer electronics, and automotive industries.

Category B: data mining apps

Category B is focused on data mining and leveraging the collected information by the end nodes. Data mining is used to identify trends and behaviors for marketing purposes. The industries that uses these types of apps most often are online retail and banking, as credit card companies and shopping clubs normally study human behavior to influence sales.

Apps in this category will often be from healthcare, payment (online retail), and geo-tracking / logistics companies.

As always, privacy is the biggest concern and maintaining it will ensure that IoT becomes a reality. So when it comes to data mining, it has to be controlled to ensure that people’s privacy is not breached. For example, at the supermarket you can be tracked aisle by aisle as you shop using the GPS on your mobile phone and RFID/smart tags. Data can be collected about how often you visited those aisles, how much time you spent at each aisle, and even what products you touched. The data collected can be used to send push notifications in real-time while the customer is shopping or send an email offer.

Further in retail and supply chain management, IoT apps and devices can use RFID incorporated smart shelves to track items in real time. This will enable the retailer to streamline and optimize functions such as stocking up with in-demand items, monitor buying patterns, and will help to optimize the supply chain. Further, if this data is shared with the manufacturer, they can produce and ship the correct amount of stock to each location.

What is exciting about this technology is that if used correctly, green applications can be developed to monitor the carbon footprint in the supply chain and make changes accordingly. Experts believe that this market segment will grow immensely and the use of wireless identifiable devices will increase to help environmental conservation programs within industries.

Here’s where it gets complicated. Apps in the automotive industry can help enhance your vehicle so that you can have a seamless transport experience. For example, if you are coming up for an oil change, the dealer can be remotely notified and a date can be set for the next oil change and service. However, the same data can be used by insurance companies to track you and calculate the policy rate based on individual driving behaviors.  As a result, privacy can be easily breached by the data that is collected for another purpose.

Further, from a healthcare perspective, wearables and smart pills can transmit data about your health in real time to your physician and hospital to help provide better healthcare services. At the same time, this data can be used by other enterprises like insurance companies and digital marketing agencies, which can get really unpleasant and complicated. As a result, experts and government personnel need to develop clear guidelines to ascertain how the data can be used and to what extent.

IoT has the potential to revolutionize safety and security services and products in the near future. One way IoT apps and devices can do this is by identifying counterfeit elements and products that arrive like unproven or unsupported parts. So if the product isn’t guaranteed of approval, it will be a violation of aviation aircraft security standards.

With the aid of these technological advances, the aviation industry will be able to eliminate air accidents that occur as a result of counterfeit parts. Further, it will significantly reduce the manpower and the time it takes to approve aircraft parts. At the present moment, verification is conducted manually by inspecting accompanying documents which can be easily forged.

The future looks bright for IoT apps with smart homes, smart assisted living, smart business/logistics, smart transportation, smart urban security, smart tourism, smart asset management, and smart cities. In other word, the potential for IoT app development is endless as IoT will be absorbed into every aspect of human life.

Do you want to learn more about the IoT essentials, app development and use cases across industries?
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Vik is our Brand Journalist and Head of Online Marketing / PR with 11+ years of international experience in IT B2B. He's also a guest blog contributor to Business2community, SitePoint, Journal of mHealth, Wearable Valley and other IT portals. You can contact him directly on LinkedIn.

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