Internet of Things: right platforms and programing language

IoT programming languages by Mobiloitte

Slowly but surely, the practice of an IoT based project development has taken a sudden jump. Internet of Things is now being considered by all verticals and micro-verticals as the key enabler to optimizing energy consumption, improving life sciences and allowing for all possible “things” to communicate in real time thus giving us a means to predict, monitor and control behaviour of “things” with a simple hand held device.

Enmasse availability of hardware, firmware and sensors with many communications protocols to choose from, often impart many choices to develop embedded IoT systems. Since, the IoT is transforming rapidly, app developers like the ones in Mobiloitte's mobile app development company are creating a unified communications layer to smartly filter and route all communication protocols, and embedded device based transmissions and multitude of data, in a single platform that is lying in our pockets, i.e. mobile devices.

This is a work in progress and a dream for many companies to provide seamless and unified End User Experience that abstracts away the complexities of the underlying protocols, devices and sensors.

Internet of Things is usually perceived to be a sensor fitted machine, transmitting unidirectional or bidirectional information. In reality, it is a complete application enablement platform that could practically integrate with weather APIs, location APIs and Artificial Intelligence to become a truly meaningful and intelligent platform for the end users.

Many vendors follow multiple approaches for developing an Iot enabled platform. While some focus on the app side of it, other focus on the hardware sit of it. Very few vendors are able to develop and deliver both hardware and software aspects of an IoT enabled platform. This requires a good knowledge of programming with Assembly Language, C or C++, including security and big data architects and domain leaders of web, iOS and Android.

Developing an IoT device or distributed IoT service

Well, development of IoT devices, hinges on fixed programming. Both software and hardware aspects are important considerations when creating an IoT prototype, especially when interfacing with small or nano embedded chips in the sensors or devices. The good news is, many of these software systems and software development kits (SDKs) employ programming languages and operating systems that are already used for mobile and web development. This is unlocking multiple doors of opportunities for the mobile app developer community.

Further, if you want to develop a full-fledged distributed IoT service that encompasses an embedded device, the server-side applications that power it, along with an integrated UI (e.g. a mobile app to control your home’s thermostat) opting Node.js development environment will also help, allowing you to write all aspects of your service in JavaScript, from backend to an endpoint device. However, before proceeding you must go through these development processes:

  • First choose your hardware platform (i.e. your processing board)
  • Developing the suitable app software
  • Build the integrated UI
  • Develop the APIs and suitable protocols for beacons, web sockets, and procedure calls that enable the high-level communications between multiple and heterogeneous devices

Selecting a suitable platform for IoT development

Choosing a platform for the product development team to develop and launch the product is the foremost task for initiating the IoT development.

Arduino platform is one of the popular hardware/software platform for creating interactive IoT objects. This platform includes a physical board processor, individual libraries of C code and, lastly, an integrated development environment (IDE) for writing, compiling and uploading code.

Microsoft Windows is also getting a telling foothold into the IoT foray, comprising Windows 10 IoT Core, an IoT-optimized version of Windows 10 that uses Visual Studio and the Arduino Wiring API. It also runs on some different boards that includes Raspberry Pi 2.

IoT hardware and Operating Systems

The market offers endless embedded devices, ranging from small prototypes to massive integrated technologies. A well-crafted assessment is a must, since not all hardware suits every project requirements. Referred to broadly as a board, or chip, the micro-computers are available in varied price and processing capabilities.

Hardware components can include low-power boards; single-board processors like the Arduino Uno and shields (the former is field-programmable gate arrays or FPGA and the other is smaller boards that plug into main boards to extend functionality by abstracting specific functions), for instance, GPS, light and heat sensors, or interactive displays. After specifying a board’s inputs and outputs, the programmer will create a schematic process to determine, how these inputs and outputs interact.

Raspberry Pi 2 is another well-known Internet of Things platform. This is a tiny affordable computer that can house a web server and often shortened. As per specific requirement it can hold sufficient processing power and memory to run Windows 10 IoT Core. For more heavy-duty processing, especially when using the Python programming language, this platform is worth harnessing for developing and deploying enterprise scale solutions around IoT.

Another platform, BeagleBoard is a single-board computer having a Linux-based OS and uses an ARM processor. This is more robust and also has more powerful processing capabiulities than RasPi.

Apart from this, Tech giant Intel’s Galileo and Edison boards are also good options and are great for larger scale production. As we know, Qualcomm has manufactured an array of enterprise-level IoT technology solutions for on board car diagnostics, surveillance cameras and connected healthcare.

The main objective to discuss the various IoT platform and tools was to showcase the glimpse of some of the technologies already emerging as market leaders. An IoT consultant can aid you in making the right choice for the right kind of power and operating system that is required on the hardware side.

IoT services by Mobiloitte

Checkout: sensor and Beacon technology

The great advantage of embedding Beacons within devices is to let the IoT objects to broadcast information to nearby mobile devices. Thus, the low-power sensors with technology like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) allow our mobile phones to catch signals when we are close to an IoT object. BLE is far more efficient from traditional Bluetooth technology, it is cheaper, less power hungry and is better for simple applications and quick pops of data. For example, sending a coupon to a nearby mobile phone can trigger a nearby store for coupon redemption using proximity sensing technologies.

Followed by activities, in 2013, Apple launched iBeacon, a low-power Bluetooth sensor that was embedded in objects and that was picked up by nearby iOS or Android devices running apps. Well, these were programmed with the Core Location APIs.

Another option for BLE beacon is AltBeacon, a free option having more data capacity. While both iBeacon and AltBeacon are dependent on databases for their functionality, Google’s URIBeacon project delivers URLs, rather than using packets of information from a database, therefore, it’s easier to update and reconfigure entire web platform using data marts.

Tips to choose: IoT software and programming languages

Earlier, IoT programming languages were unique to embedded systems but nowadays common programming languages are used widely across development platform with which the developer community is comfortable with. Availability of wide range of programming languages, poses the typical question as to which programming language is the best fit for your IoT project. Here are some guidelines and tips that determine which languages are better.

The embedded systems involve some criteria and limitations, i.e. low processing power and smaller amounts of RAM and storage. However, the commonly preferred operating systems for these embedded computers are Linux or UNIX-like OS like Ubuntu Core or Android. Make your decision based on your chosen hardware platform. Hence, opt for a language your developer is already working with, furthermore you can decide considering factors like compatibility with your IoT ecosystem, code's size and memory footprint, requirements based on efficiency, development agility and so on.

The IoT programming languages come in varied ranges, i.e. you can opt from general-purpose languages like C++ and Java, to embedded-specific option like Google’s Go language or Parasail.

The Developers can help you precisely to make the right decision while opting for the same. Although, each language has its own advantages and disadvantages, here is a quick overview on the following:

Java

Java is an important programming language and its advantages are well known. With this, creating and debugging code is easy and can be moved to any chip with a Java Virtual Machine. Hence, the code can run in places where JVMs are common, but also on smaller machines.

It requires libraries to run on different hardware, however, once you get started with that code base, it is completely set to become a language that is written once, but can be used anywhere.

Today, the focus is on Java SE Embedded as it owes capability to the Standard Edition, which helps developers to use the latest features of the Java 8 platform and also move their code to a smaller, embedded device.

C and C++

The C programming language holds its roots in embedded systems. It is common knowledge that C++ is the object-oriented version of C, popularly used in both the Linux OS and Arduino embedded IoT software systems. These languages have an advantage as they were designed to be written specifically for the hardware they run on, thus you will find the fine-tuned coding suitable for embedded systems that interface with the underlying hardware in a more efficient manner.

Python

Python is a popular choice for one of the most well-known microcontrollers in the IoT world, the Raspberry Pi. Much of the training program is written in Python, and many schools use the platform to teach computer programming. You can opt for this language, if your project is relatively simple and computational demands is not necessary. It is then possible to build effective tools and cutting edge logic in short code snippets. In general, it is an interpreted language, which makes it flexible, easy to read, and quick to write. Moreover, it’s a powerhouse for data-heavy applications.

Node.js and JavaScript

JavaScript is an excellent option for IoT. Node.js code can be used to manage a complete IoT system. It is an interpreted language and a better match for more robust embedded systems.

DeviceJS is a JavaScript-based development platform for programming sensors and controlling devices.

Swift

Swift is generally used to build apps for Apple’s iOS and MAC OS devices. It is good to work in this space as it offers promising opportunity. Apple is looking to make its iOS devices the centre piece for network of sensors, thus creating libraries and infrastructure that handle much of the work by abstracting away the low level language requirements. These libraries are the foundation of its HomeKit platform, which provides support for integrating the data feeds from a network of compatible devices. This means you are able to focus on the details of your task or business needs rather than worry about the technology implementation aspects.

Overview on IoT

No doubt, the Internet of Things world has opened up amazing and exciting possibilities. However, it is also important to take into consideration the large surface area threats on the security front and have proper intrusion detection and security risk mitigation mechanisms in place. We are advancing rapidly, the way data feeds are received, analysed and monitored, intrusion detection and how bidirectional communication between IoT devices delivered across networks is a sensitive issue. Hence, there's a need for security to be incorporated at every stage to check hacking and security threat at bay.

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