Create Your Own Internet of Things
The IoT is developing tremendously day by day because of the continuous efforts of a wide community, stretching from hobbyists all the way to researchers. The IoT tends to have unlimited applications, as there are seemingly unlimited needs in every sphere of life. This being the case, consumers have found that either the available IoT-enabled products are not able to cater to the universe of people’s requirements or there is no such product for a specific requirement. So consumers have started developing applications and products on their own by using open platforms. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Thus, people have begun practicing the art of do it yourself (DIY) to develop customized IoT applications and products for their needs. To complement this DIY explosion, lots of boards, single-board computers, and embedded platforms have landed on the market, each offering distinct features.
When it comes to IoT hardware, one can think of mobile phones as IoT devices, since smartphones have sensors, displays, and a unique address and are connected to the Internet. Regarding IoT devices, Paul Jacobs, former chief executive officer of Qualcomm, has said, “In the future, almost all things will be linked on the web, and mobile phones will act as hubs for IoT. So, IoT is nothing but the Internet linkage of smart objects and embedded systems other than mobile phones, with mobiles phones acting as access centers for IoT” . The term smart objects referred to by Jacobs can be described as things or objects that are responsible for providing useful information on their interactions on a network. These objects can be deployed in a network via Bluetooth Low Energy (IEEE 802.15.4), Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11), Ethernet (IEEE 802.3), or other communication standards. The possibilities for IoT development in hardware and software are infinite. IoT hardware can be classified into two broad categories: 1) wearable devices and gadgets and 2) embedded systems and boards, as depicted in Figure 1. In the wearable category, many preassembled standard hardware applications ranging from smart shoes to glasses are available. The scope of IoT development in this category is limited to software, where a DIYer can develop applications suitable only for a particular hardware item of a wearable gadget. On the other hand, both the hardware and software aspects are open for developers under the embedded systems and boards category. The services provided by these systems and boards can be further classified into three subcategories: 1) device control, 2) data acquisition, and 3) application development. Device control includes monitoring of devices, security, and firmware updates. Data acquisition encompasses management and transformation at different layers of the IoT. Finally, application development includes analytics, eventdriven logic, visualization, and application programming. Discussed next are some of the most popular and advanced platforms and boards, which are becoming the first choice of any IoT developer for initial prototyping, creating smart objects, and developing projects and products. Proposed system: ESP8266 (Figure 2) is a well-known Wi-Fi solution among hobbyists and students who want to add an edge of the Internet to their embedded projects. Two of its versions are preferred. First, there is the generic ESP8266 module. Raspberry Pi 2 is a single-board computer that comes with a quad-core ARM7 800 MHz, a Videocore IV 250 MHz as a graphics processing unit, 1 GB of random access memory (RAM), 40 GPIO pins, four USB 2.0 ports, one Ethernet port, one HDMI connector, and one micro-SD card slot. Arduino offers a vast range of open-source boards capable of performing tasks from blinking an LED to publishing material online to handling heavy networking tasks. This is made possible through the Arduino software integrated development environment (IDE), based on processing. The company littleBits was born out of a movement focusing on open hardware. It comes with almost 60 interchangeable bits (modules) that are attached to each other magnetically in billions of possible combinations. It is the hardware through which anyone, irrespective of technical capability, age, or discipline, can create new things.
The ultimate goal of the IoT is to make all objects in homes and offices smart, so they can be controlled from anywhere in the world. This can eventually be achieved by building interest and awareness among people to empower the IoT movement. DIY and the IoT are multidisciplinary streams in which individuals work on various aspects of hardware, software, and design. In this article, we have mostly discussed open-source boards and platforms that can be utilized by DIYers for developing IoT projects, as a lot of support is available online. However, selecting a board is not an easy task. This article provides a kick start toward selection of the best possible boards and platforms for initial prototyping and finally for commercialization and cost-effective hardware solutions. Furthermore, there is a discussion of IoT software platforms compatible with the described hardware platforms. We also examine generic API development for interfacing with sensors and actuators for better IoT application and product deployment. In a nutshell, DIY empowers everyone to make their own IoT.
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