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Customizing your Internet of things experience

Messing around with internet of things can certainly be a fun hobby, but it can also be a viable business opportunity

internet of things

Messing around with the internet of things can certainly be a fun hobby, but it can also be a viable business opportunity.

The internet of things is in a major expansion and things such as networking chips, sensors and other technology which is needed to connect various devices to the internet has become relatively cheap and easy to find.

It is estimated that there will be around 6.4 billion devices connected to the internet by the end of 2016. This number is expected to grow to 26 billion devices by 2020, as around 67% of consumers are expected to buy connected technology for their homes, while around 50% will opt for wearable technology.

These devices can send, as well as receive, various types of data, related to both physical characteristics, such as temperature, moisture level, pulse rate or velocity, and more complex data such as sounds, static, moving images or maintenance requirements.

In order for these devices to be practical, they have to be connected to a system of information (in other words software). This software should manage the devices and networks they use, arrange and sort the enormous amounts of data they produce, and process that data prior to showing how it can be useful.

Types of devices that can be made


Basically, if you are creative enough and possess the right knowledge you can create whatever you imagine. But for starters, you can try a variety of Raspberry pi projects to learn a thing or two about the internet of things. Later on, you can gradually upgrade that knowledge and enable yourself to build a device and develop an app for it from scratch.

There are various, very interesting, Raspberry Pi projects that you can give a go. For example, you can make a model rocket that carries a telemetry sensor, so you can track it to see how high it goes and the location at which it lands. You will acquire experience with GPS, RF transmitting models and temperature sensors through this project.

Image for illustration purposes only it is highly unlikely that you will build a rocket like this :).

Another project you can try is a temperature and humidity sensor, which can be utilized to check the temperature in your server rack. One more project you can undertake is a dog treat dispenser, which is more complex than the previous one. You will mainly learn about switches and servos here, and it is definitely worthwhile, because servos are the most usual way that embedded control projects make stuff move.

Developing software

After you have taken care of the hardware for your internet of things device, you get to the point of developing software. Besides dealing with all the data, another role of software is to manage all the connected devices, and, if needed, update their firmware.

Here, you will have several choices to make. You have to consider where your data is going to be stored: locally or in the cloud. Another choice you have to make is whether you want processing to take place on the device itself, on a mobile, in the cloud, or a combination of all three.


The final step is the end-user tier, which is the application that the end user sees and communicates with. This can either be an enterprise application, a web app or a mobile app. The last two phases require the most work, especially if you take into consideration that not all engineers are programming wizzes. Luckily, with the abundance of free app makers on a present-day marketplace, anyone can be a developer.

This would, of course, solve your basic needs, but if you want to go further into the internet of things, you can spare yourself some time by building the application on top of a ready-made platform. Such platforms contain software and infrastructure that carry out archiving for incoming data, as well as an analytics tier, thin provisioning, activation and management capabilities, a real-time message bus and an API, which deals with the communication between the platform and the application that is built on it.

The potential of the internet of things is enormous

Messing around with the internet of things can certainly be a fun hobby, but it can also be a viable business opportunity, considering how there is a growing number of devices that are connected to the Internet. If you start learning today, you can set a good foundation for the future, so why wait?

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Marcus is an Australian IT support professional. He’s running his own business, working with companies that outsource their IT maintenance. He often writes about technology, business and marketing and is a regular contributor on several sites.

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