Chapter 3: Understanding the Use of Connected Objects
October 11, 2018
October 11, 2018
Connected objects have been gaining more traction and popularity as the focus in app development moves toward needing to connect apps to smart devices. According to Statista, the IoT market is worth over 1 billion US dollars annually and Gartner Inc. is predicting that there will be over 20.4 billion IoT connected devices worldwide by 2020, which is a big jump in comparison to 6.4 billion in 2016. So, what exactly is IoT? Well, this type of technology is a part of the family of connected objects which we will be diving into pretty soon.
As we move into chapter 3 in our handbook on app development for the non-tech savvy, we are going to be exploring the different uses of connected objects including IoT, beacon technology and how they function. By now you have read the first two chapters on an introduction to app development terminology and native and hybrid applications so you should be more comfortable with some of the technical jargon. Let’s get to it then shall we?
As we mentioned in the introduction, connected devices can also be referred to as IoT, or the Internet of Things. The IoT is a giant network of connected things including cell-phones, headphones, coffee makers, washing machines, lamps, heart monitor implants etc… These IoT devices talk to each other by transferring communicable network data which then, in turn, connects physical objects to the internet, like applications.
Using connected objects gives devices the power to tell us what is happening in an environment without physically being there. This involves transferring data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
According to Google, IoT is split up into 3 components: device, gateway and cloud.
Along with these 3 components, IoT systems are made up of actuators and sensors which form the core infrastructure of an IoT framework to ensure its accuracy. They enable interactions and communication between the physical and digital world.
Actuators are devices used to manipulate the physical environment, such as controlling the temperature valves in your smart home, and sensors collect data from the environment or object being monitored, such as your smart home. For example, a sensor might recognize the temperature rising quickly in your house, detecting the heat of a fire. The sensor then sends this data to the control center which is where the actuator comes into play turning on the sprinklers in your house to put out the fire. Below you can see a detailed diagram describing the roles of actuators and sensors using this example.
IoT projects certainly have some really cool concepts for connecting physical objects to the digital world. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using this advanced technology.
Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of IoT devices and the composition of IoT systems (actuators and sensors), we will move on to how IoT protocols are responsible for sending information and updates from a device at a central location. Below we mention the most commonly used protocols for IoT projects.
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)
MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport)
CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol)
Service providers are different platforms and networks for executing IoT projects to enable IoT devices to connect and interact. We have provided you with a list of 3 successful providers along with the descriptions from their websites.
According to Semtech – “LoRa (short for long range) is a spread spectrum modulation technique derived from chirp spread spectrum (CSS) technology. Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology) is a long-range, low power wireless platform that has become the de facto technology for the Internet of Things (IoT) networks worldwide.
LoRa Technology enables smart IoT applications that solve some of the biggest challenges facing our planet: energy management, natural resource reduction, pollution control, infrastructure efficiency, disaster prevention, and more. Semtech’s LoRa Technology has amassed over 600 known uses cases for smart cities, smart homes and buildings, smart agriculture, smart metering, smart supply chain and logistics, and more. With over 50 million devices connected to networks in 95 countries and growing, LoRa Technology is the DNA of IoT, creating a Smarter Planet.”
According to Sigfox: “Billions of objects worldwide will be connected to the Internet; their data will be stored in the cloud and will participate in the digitalization of our environment. Having a global, simple, low-cost and low-power connectivity solution is fundamental. This is the challenge that Sigfox addresses by deploying a low-bandwidth dedicated network, already present in 45 countries.
Created in 2010 the company is a recognized global pioneer and leader in a sector that is already disrupting business models and will revolutionize the whole of society. The ambition of Sigfox, embodied in the slogan “Make Things Come Alive”, is to give a voice to the physical world around us and to allow these billions of objects to play a role in economic and social development.”
According to Zigbee Alliance: The Zigbee Alliance is the standard bearer of the open IoT. Established in 2002, our wide-ranging global membership collaborates to create and evolve universal open standards for the smart networks in our homes, businesses, and neighborhoods”
“Striving to create new opportunities and a larger market for all stakeholders in the IoT. Bringing together the world’s most innovative companies and individuals to create and evolve technologies that enable all IoT devices to connect and interact — regardless of country, brand, market, or network. Delivering on our technologies’ brand promise of performance and interoperability with robust certification programs and tools.
Creating and fostering opportunities for collaboration amongst our members, and all IoT stakeholders to drive consensus in the industry. Solving industry-wide challenges, by partnering with leading organizations, to enable a more unified Internet of Things. Enthusiastically promoting Zigbee Alliance technologies, and members’ achievements and solutions built on our technologies.
Championing the thought leadership of our members to highlight today’s opportunities, inspire tomorrow’s innovation, and influence the future of the Internet of Things. Aiming to be the most trusted IoT consortium by continually working to make it easier for companies to develop and deploy interoperable IoT products quickly, effectively and at a low cost.”
You may have heard of well-known devices that apply IoT such as the Apple watch which can monitor your health and Amazon Alexa which controls your smart home through doing simple tasks like locking doors and controlling the thermostat. A number of industries are using IoT technology to their advantage as it evolves and gains more popularity. Below we have compiled a list of the different ways industries are utilizing IoT.
With all this talk about connected objects and IoT technology, it is important to mention an important member of the family: beacons.
Beacons, or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons are Bluetooth devices that transmit signals. They detect other devices within proximity and broadcast or send them relevant information, messages and notifications. A smartphone with Bluetooth functionality can spot this signal when it’s within range.
For example, You walk by your favourite store and notice they are having a sale on shoes. As you walk by, there is a beacon placed next to the shoe section to alert you of this sale. This allows retail stores to have more engagement with their customers and promote products and new deals.
Other types of beacons include digital magazines broadcasted to your smartphone when you enter a cafe and coupons when you walk into a store. Airlines and train stations are also using this technology to improve connections and communication with customers. Beacons can alert travelers of delays, flight and gate updates, information on baggage collection and duty-free deals.
As you can see the world of IoT has limitless possibilities and its only growing bigger from here.
We talked about the use of beacons and Bluetooth to communicate with people, but did you know that Bluetooth and WiFi are two separate technologies? A similarity they share is they both provide wireless communication. The goal with Bluetooth is to connect devices without using cables. It is a wireless technology to exchange data over short distances (less than 30 ft.) between mobile devices. This means smartphones with Bluetooth capabilities are able to easily communicate with other Bluetooth devices like printers or headphones. An example of using Bluetooth would be connecting your iPod or iPhone to a wireless speaker to play music in your house.
WiFi, on the other hand, provides high-speed access to wireless devices to the internet. The range of WiFi stretches much further than Bluetooth, with the signal sometimes being able to reach as far as 300 ft. away. Devices like PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets can connect to a WiFi hotspot, which is an area where the signal can be accessed. This can be a single room or it can stretch throughout a whole building like a shopping mall, airport, university campus or restaurant.
It is impressive to see how far technology has progressed throughout the years. Having smart homes where IoT technology controls your thermostat, light switches, radio, TV and door locks are interesting developments. As we move deeper into the evolution of technology, chapter 4 will focus on virtual reality and how it’s shaping mobile app development and the industries using the technology to their advantage. Keep your eye out for this next chapter coming out soon!
Filed under App Funding
Tagged beacons, bluetooth, connected objects, wifi, internet of things
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