‘Internet of Things’ or IoT has been making big waves in the technology industry for the past few years. Market research carried out by Gartner last year predicted that 26 billion devices will be part of the Internet of Things by 2020, a 30-fold increase from 2009. This is exciting news for us as developers. According to a recent forecast by ABI Research, more than three million developers will be involved in Internet of Things activities by 2019.
IoT is driven by the idea that a wide range of products, big or small in any environment, whether that be at work or at home, will be connected to the internet. At home, for example, fridges, door bells and locks could become connected, intelligent devices. Data collected on user habits can be used to create a ‘smart’ home, centred around your lifestyle.
IoT is already the backbone behind some of the smartest apps that users have on their devices. Weather apps are one of the prime examples of an IoT driven app, as they use information from weather sensors to provide end users with information. More recent weather apps, such as Dark Sky also utilise barometers and other sensors on some smartphones to create hyperlocal weather information.
Public transport apps also widely use IoT to provide users with information about when their next connection is due. An example is transport apps in London that tell users when the next bus or tube is due and can provide accurate information about journey times, based on the current state of the transport network.
If we also look within the home, British Gas introduced Hive Active Heating. This smart home device connects heating and hot water boilers to the internet, allowing customers to control their energy use from their mobile devices. The company estimates that Hive could save users as much as £150 per year by making it easier to regulate utility usage.
There are some concerns however, that the more products are connected, the higher the risk for a security breach. Added to this, there are concerns that as more devices get connected, manufacturers will create their own walled garden, where devices can only play within set ecosystems.
ARM, the British computer chip designer whose chip designs power virtually all smartphones, term this as the ‘internet of silos’. This describes how companies, involved in the development of products, use and create different codes to power their own products.
To try to address this, ARM has recently announced ‘mbed’, a platform for ‘Internet of Things’ devices, to combat fragmentation within the industry.
One of the main components of ‘mbed’ is a uniform OS for optimisation across devices and platforms to enable IoT. Together with some of the world’s leading technology players, the platform will make it much faster and easier for developers to deploy and connect with IoT.
According to ARM, 70,000 developers are currently part of this community, with more than 90,000 published projects.
This free, customisable operating system will be launching in the fourth quarter with ARM’s partners, including Freescale, IBM, Salesforce, Marvell and NXP. The first devices, which will feature the software, will be on sale as early as 2015.
ARM is not the only company making an impact in the IoT arena. Apple, Google, Microsoft and many other large technology companies, are hugely involved in the Internet of Things. Due to its complexity, a wide variety of obstacles such as security and the privacy of data can pose a problem to the comprehensive adoption of IoT. However ARM’s launch of ‘mbed’ is a positive step to make the process of IoT quicker and easier. The platform allows companies to have constant connectivity, support for multiple wireless standards (including LTE), secure wireless connections and requires less backend infrastructure.
ARM’s announcement has the potential to create further excitement for IoT development. The launch of ‘mbed’ could empower developers and facilitate them exploring the full potential of IoT and its influence on our professional and personal ecosystem.