The ‘Internet of Things’ is one of those incredible ideas with the power to change the world that we’ve been promised for a while, but that nobody has quite delivered on yet. Like virtual reality, cloud computing, and 3D printing though, this is starting to change and IoT is finally, really becoming a reality. And again, like those other two examples, it’s increasingly an idea that entrepreneurs need to start taking notice of. This article is an introduction to IoT platforms for makers, and how they can turn their ideas into reality.
A truly ubiquitous internet of things is fast becoming possible, due to the rapid shrinking of technology and the increasingly low costs of electronic components – the same factors that are making wearable tech profitable finally. Eventually, cloud computing will take this even further, and the result will be that all our devices become smart and capable of providing us with more data – even being able to make contextual decisions in some cases. Imagine a plant pot that can water itself (or request watering) based on the weather. Or how about a fridge that knows when your milk is going out of date? Or even an entire city all connected on a smart grid!
Moreover though, IoT has now been in gestation long enough that some great new ideas have been introduced. The integration with web apps available through IFTTT is one such example for instance and means that your fridge can add ‘Get Milk’ to your Todoist list. The possibilities are endless and finally, some of those possibilities are starting to be explored.
To facilitate all this communication, developers will need to make use of IoT platforms that provide a framework for giving various gadgets smart functionality. Some new and very interesting platforms are already emerging to this end. These include:
Evrythng is an award-winning, cloud-enabled IoT platform that claims be able to connect any consumer product to the web while providing tools to manage real-time data. This is a platform with sharing and interconnectivity at its core. It’s a well-known platform for makers to get involved with, and has a lot of useful features around the central idea of connectivity.
Intel has a family of IoT products, and the platform it relies on for this works with third party solutions. If you like the thought of using a well-known brand name for your IoT solution, then this offering may just be the best choice.
MODE is a full-stack solution that provides tools for building hardware and software, and connecting it to the MODE cloud. This is a simple jumping on point for beginners. Between this and EVERYTHING, apparently, IoT platforms enjoy Caps Lock.
Xively is an enterprise-level IoT platform for connecting products and users, managing information, and monitoring the performance of products. For bigger projects, this middleware solution should offer a more comprehensive array of options. This makes it a great choice if you have plans to expand.
ThingSpeak is an API and IoT application that allows you to store and retrieve data from products using the web or a local area connection. It has lots of handy features, even enabling the creation of a social network of things with their own status updates. This is great for seeing lots of information at a glance, and the whole experience is very user friendly.
Kaa is a flexible and open source platform for creating and managing connected software in IoT. Kaa is aiming big with a data schema definition it hopes, will provide a universal language for OEMs. It has great back-end functionality, and makes the process quick and easy for developers. The open source nature will also appeal to a lot of users who like to tinker under the hood.
Carriots is a Platform as a Service or PaaS. It offers tools for collecting and storing data, as well as a powerful SDK. As a service, it does involve a monthly fee, though a basic corporate account won’t set you back too much and it does offer a lot of features for the mid-large sized project. Getting started is also very easy, which is a big bonus.
The Potential of IoT Platforms For Makers – And Why It’s Time to Get on Board
IoT is going places then, and it has a lot of potential. Look at a company like Luna Sleep and its blanket that keeps you warm at night by changing temperature. This device can sync with IFTTT, thus enabling you to change the temperature of the blanket based on your thermostat (via Nest) and your movement (through a Jawbone UP).
And household items aren’t the only opportunities either. Your gym could be smart, so could your work tools, and so could your clothes. When wearable tech meets IoT, even more incredible things happen. These are all opportunities for makers to exploit, and make the most from.
Eventually, everything could be in communication all the time which could mean everything becomes far more personalized and automated all at the same time. It’s the job of hardware entrepreneurs though, to bring this possibility to the here and now, and to capitalize on all this potential. Not only is it our responsibility (and pleasure), to help usher in such an exciting new technology, but it’s crucial that we get involved now rather than be left behind.
Note that these IoT platforms are just a few from the lot, and there are many more already available, or in the works. Regardless of which one you end up using, the key thing is to start getting involved. The Internet of Things is undoubtedly going to play a big role in the future, so the only question is whether you’re going to be a part of that.
So what do you think? Is this a technology you’ll be integrating into your products? What possibilities do you see for IoT? Let us know in the comments section below and sign up to the mailing list to keep up to date with the latest trends and developments that matter to makers.