It might be hard to imagine, but within the next 10 years, every item you use might be collecting and transmitting data. Already, an Internet of Things (IoT) exists, but soon, it will thrive, impacting and improving every home and business in the country.
Yet, for this innovation to take place, technology developers must be familiar with the benefits and challenges associated with creating IoT devices. Though the tech fodder required to construct the devices ― such as sensors, networking chips, and more ― is decreasing in price while increasing in quality, not all developers are aware of the existing risks of using the IoT. Thus, while the greater population clamors for more and greater connection, developers should spend time learning about the obstacles ahead of them.
How IoT Stuff Is Made
The world will be a vastly different place by 2020. Experts from Gartner expect the IoT to grow to more than 26 billion devices, representing a 30-fold increase from 2009, when the IoT was first coined. Yet, to meet demand, tech developers and manufacturers need a plan. Anything that collects and transmits data must be connected to a system of automation, which intelligently collects, organizes, and analyzes information so end-users can easily digest it.
Yet, creating this system is more difficult than you might expect because it must manage data as small as a single person’s resting heart rate or as large as the maintenance needs of every airplane engine in the sky.
Most IoT manufacturers begin with the things they hope to connect: the umbrellas, the refrigerators, the bracelets, the water bottles, etc. Using smart design, they must manage to add low-power processors, embed operating systems, and connect to the internet via WiFi. Many IoT devices don’t include features like screens, buttons, or even flashing lights, so the other hardware must be securely placed and reliably functional.
Next, using smarter development, tech workers must build the software and infrastructure that will receive and manage the unending streams of data from IoT devices. This step in IoT development must establish constant communication between the devices, the internet, and the corporate data center so users’ devices remain updated and operative. What’s more, the ingestion and analysis of data must occur completely behind the scenes, so users only see and interact with the thing and its corresponding end-user application.
Unfortunately, most developers only have the tools to build small parts of this vast system. Having a thing is easy, and creating apps is relatively painless, but constructing the platform that takes in data, archives it, and evaluates it, is backbreaking work.
Why Unique IoT Platforms Aren’t Worth It
To be fair, no software platform is easy to build. Platforms establish the constraints of software, and they must be accurate, appropriate, and accessible to ensure the software runs as it should. Any mistakes during platform development could cause delays, glitches, or worse, impacting customer satisfaction and running a business into the ground.
Due to the complexity of the IoT, platforms and the resulting software could take years to construct, which isn’t feasible considering the fast pace that the industry is growing. Businesses that hope to capitalize on existing consumer interest must act fast, which means sinking years into the back-end isn’t feasible.
Thankfully, there are alternative options. The increasing popularity of the IoT has inspired a thriving market for platform providers. Small and big names alike are getting in on the game; Microsoft offers its Intelligent Systems Service, and experts predict Oracle to acquire one of the many smaller enterprise software vendors in the future. Working with a platform-as-a-service allows businesses to get to market faster, scale easier, and pivot sooner, should their audience require new features or services.
Other Potential IoT Risks
The difficulty of building IoT devices isn’t the only risk. As the IoT has grown, plenty of experts have expressed dismay over the disappointing security of the connected objects. Indeed, there are already stories about baby monitors hacked by malicious internet trolls and infiltrated printers ejecting messages of hate.
Yet, even despite these challenges, the IoT is on-track to connect even more items to the internet in the coming years. As long as tech businesses are aware of the difficulties associated with building IoT products (and as long as they opt for pre-built platforms) most will likely find success with increasingly data-hungry consumers. Soon enough, everything you see could be smarter and better at improving your life, and that makes the IoT an amazing thing.