The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing, and more businesses are looking for ways to get their devices into consumers’ hands. IoT may even provide a solution for your business.
If you’re investigating the IoT space, you’re researching what applications are working well, and which ones aren’t. While IoT has been described as an enormous technological breakthrough, this new world comes with challenges. Here are the top considerations when developing for IoT:
Security is the prime concern (or should be) for IoT developers. IoT is used to automate many of our business and personal processes, which means hacks to those systems can lead to everything from property destruction to damaged equipment to personal safety risks. In the past, engineers didn’t think hackers would target small devices, but it’s clear from recent attacks that hundreds of thousands of devices add up to a big problem if hacked. People may not realize how many of their devices are connected to the Internet, or that some contain malware. Consumers may not understand the need to update firmware or run security checks. Manufacturers, service providers, resellers, and users will all have to start thinking about security, but it’s up to developers to lead this charge. Making these devices more secure will require many approaches, so consider encryption, access logs, your device’s password policies, and network security and device authentication.
Right now consumers have tens of thousands of IoT devices. Soon, that number will be in the billions. There are a variety of wired and wireless connectivity standards instead of just one, which will begin to cause problems as IoT grows. Further, we rely on a centralized, server/client system to connect everything. When billions of devices are asking for input, those systems will become a bottleneck, slowing down or shutting down IoT applications. Developers are considering a few options in the future, including decentralized networks, smarter computing models that prioritize tasks, and peer-to-peer communications, where devices can operate without the server.
IoT devices offer little improvements in our lives, but not without an exchange of data. Some of this data is sensitive information, such as health data. Such data are protected by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), but that doesn’t mean those devices are taking the precautions required by law when storing or sharing that information. Your development team must make sure personally identifiable information is removed so that consumers won’t be exposed by a data breach. Also, some IoT devices gather small amounts of data with no personally identifiable information. While that seems harmless, what if that data is combined with other information, revealing a consumer's habits?
All devices require power. Most IoT applications and devices are set up to run for years. Will yours run on a battery or require some electrical connection? If it’s battery powered, how often will the batteries need to be replaced or charged? People are striving to reduce overall energy consumption, and yet we continue to add devices to our lives. That means consumers are paying attention to energy efficiency.
As different companies and industries create IoT applications, they use different technologies. None has emerged as the new standard, meaning consumers must buy and use extra hardware and software to connect various devices. Some of this technology will soon end up in the recycling bin in favor of upgrades. But consumers tend to keep appliances such as smart refrigerators for years — even past dates of warranty or after the manufacturer goes defunct. Will your device be compatible with current and previous IoT applications?
If you’re seeking an IoT solution for your company, contact us to develop it with these challenges in mind.