Today, mobile apps are dominating the marketplace, but that can change pretty soon as the Internet of Things (IoT) is evolving at lightning speed.
As smart homes, factories, cities, and cars rapidly start becoming the norm, you can expect this space to flourish.
At present, you can say that we’re in the infancy of IoT app development.
As a result, sometimes navigating this space can quickly feel overwhelming for a developer testing out the waters.
This is because we already have hundreds of diverse communication protocols, thousands of unique products, and tons of promising use-cases to go through.
So it’s important to be equipped with the required knowledge, direction, and the right tools to build a highly successful IoT app.
So what do you need to succeed? Let’s dive right in.
1. You have to have some industry knowledge
When you’re developing applications for IoT, it needs to address the demands of the specific industry where the “smart thing” will be implemented. When you have knowledge about the inner workings of that industry, you will be empowered to build highly productive and effective solutions.
A great way to achieve this is by engaging with operational technologists (OT) who will utilize your IoT app during the course of their day. The key here is to bridge the gap between OT and IT to get the most out of the smart device.
2. Identify a real-world problem that demands a robust solution
The word “solution” gets thrown around a lot within the technology space, but in reality, something doesn’t become a solution unless it actually solves a real-world problem. As a result, even before you start your first iteration, ask the following questions during the planning stage:
- Are there any competitors providing solutions to the problem we’re trying to solve?
- If there are already options available in the marketplace, what’s our unique selling point (USP)? Why should potential customers choose us over a competitor?
- Will the IoT application be vendor-agnostic? Can we capture the whole market?
- Does the value of the app outweigh the costs?
- Do we have to rely on a particular hardware stack?
- Can the app scale seamlessly with evolving business requirements and IoT technology?
- Is the IoT application highly adaptable? Can it provide multiple solutions?
At this juncture, it’s important to note that the solutions that gain the most traction, solve unique problems within a particular industry. These problems won’t have other competing solutions that fall within the same price range.
It should also be highly adaptable to solve multiple problems with room to scale and enhance its value over a period of time.
3. You have to arm yourself with the right tools
To build an IoT app, you need to identify the best tools that fit the requirements of the build. This process will begin with the integration of existing software and hardware.
To get started, an app developer needs the right tools for success. This begins by integrating with existing hardware and software (as no app exists at this juncture).
For example, a logistics solution would demand a remote data connection, multiple sensors, and a robust IoT platform to manage it all with device interoperability and dashboards. So developers can also choose to build their own IoT platforms to connect a variety of disparate sensors, communication protocols, devices, and other proprietary components.
But to achieve this, you have to have the appropriate development toolkit and a solid understanding of the existing hardware and software stack. The most important thing here is having the necessary information to support your build utilizing the toolkit.
There are tons of tools out there, so make sure that you do some research before making a commitment. Here are some tools we have utilized in the past at Intersog:
- Arduino (open-source prototyping platform)
- Home Assistant (a robust tool that runs on Python that’s great for interacting and tracking sensors and smart devices at home)
- Kinoma (a robust tool that allows developers to seamlessly take IoT ideas to prototype and production)
- ThingSpeak (one of the best IoT tools to crunch a vast amount of data)
- Zetta (a server-based platform)
4. Successful IoT development demands experience
Like anything else in life, you get better with practice! But when we’re talking about IoT, this can be difficult to achieve as this space is extremely diverse across industries. So you have to accept the fact that you’re just not going to become an expert overnight.
The good news is that you can significantly increase your knowledge within the IoT development space by studying use-cases, doing some DIY IoT hobbyist projects, and by getting involved in IoT-focused hackathons (which are excellent platforms to practice and share knowledge).
Have you participated in IoT hackathons? What was your experience? What else would you add to this list?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.