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Building Applications for Internet of Things

Applications of the Internet of Things are huge which are becoming increasingly popular. Acquity Group, an Accenture company, predicts that by 2021, two-third of consumers are expected to buy connected technology for homes while nearly half will buy wearable technology. Also, a study by Gartner says by 2020 end, the total number of “connected” consumers, businesses, and industrial "things" are expected to grow to 26 billion units.

Such numbers give an urge to developers to raise important questions, which will help in building stable software that intelligently manages things, network, and data for complete IoT devices.

So what could be one of the best ways to build an ‘Internet of Things’ application? What skills are required? Moreover, what has to be the starting point?

Taking such questions one by one, the starting point is, the “Thing” in itself! These devices are not mandated to have a screen, are operated by a low power processor, have an embedded operating system, and a way of communication via communication protocols. Further, with the aid of such technology attached to the device, these “things” may directly connect to the internet, nearby devices, or an internet gateway.

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The next comes is an ingestion tier, it is a software or an infrastructure that manages and organizes the reception of data from other devices. This ingestion tier runs via cloud-based services or a corporate data center and is also responsible to update the firmware.

The next tier in line is the “analytics tier”, this takes up data collected and organized by the ingestion tier and further processes it. The third layer is “end-user tier”, it is in the form of a Web app, a mobile app, or even an enterprise application that the consumer actually sees and interacts with.

As a developer, you have to be rigorously indulged in working on the last two tiers, since developers mostly do not have the tools or authority to look into the devices or gateways in the ingestion tier. This is the basic reason why an IoT application must be built on top of an already in place ingestion tier. Ingestion tier will also take care of time series archiving, for incoming data. While, analytics tier will provide activation and management capabilities, a real-time message bus, an API to allow communication, and thin provisioning.

Startups like Bug Labs, ThingWorx, Mnubo, and Xively provide platforms with capabilities mentioned above. Also, these infrastructures can provide two-way communication for a large number of things developed by different manufacturers. Moreover, established companies Microsoft along with its enterprise vendors like SAP are adding Internet of Things capabilities to their offerings.

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OnFarm, a California based company is using ThingWorx’s platform to develop a web-based farm information application. This application collects data from a variety of connected things. There are soil moisture sensors that collect data and integrate it with the data collected from other sources such as weather information systems. This information is then processed and presented on customizable dashboards.

As cited from the above example, with prebuilt systems, the developer is mostly involved in building Web application front using programming languages like Bootstrap, AngularJS, and JavaScript. Another advantage of using pre-built platforms is the scalability achieved. Since the Internet of Things is likely to expand at its full throttle in the coming years, the offerings by current vendors will change their shape easily if built on pre-built platforms.

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There are numerous ways to build an application for the Internet of Things but the optimal way lies with the startups mentioned above. So if you are planning to build an IoT application, let them do the hard work by providing data ingestion platforms while companies or developers like you can build your IoT ideas upon it.