Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is according to experts the next “Big Thing” in the world of IT. It is expected that by 2020 no less than 26 billion IoT devices will be installed and actively used. But what exactly is this new development, what can you do with it and why is it a so hot?

In today’s society, the Internet has become a basic need globally. Access to the internet, its availability and incorporation in our everyday lives is simply staggering. We see the rise of devices that are syncronised with our phones and can be remotely accessed. And that is where the concept of “Internet of Things” enters. In the core of the technology lies a remote information transfer. Think of contactless payment (with the debit card or even with your mobile phone), the RFID tags that you send to websites, after scanning,  or provide the desired information.

In short, “The internet of things refers to a situation where people-operated computers (desktops, tablets, smartphones) will be in the minority on the internet. The majority of internet users in this vision will consist of semi-intelligent devices, so-called embedded systems. This makes everyday objects an entity on the internet that can communicate with people and with other objects, and who can make autonomous decisions on the basis of this. “

The simplest example of the Internet of things is Amazon’s smart refrigerator. This refrigerator can scan products and give a signal to the user when a product may be overdue. It is even possible to set up the refrigerator in such a way that when a product is missing in the refrigerator, the product is automatically placed on the order list and consequetly ordered by the user at a click of a button.

In addition to Amazon’s refrigerator, there are numerous devices that fulfill such a function. However, there is one IoT device that almost everyone knows. That is the smart thermostat that has been installed for a long time in Dutch households. With this thermostat it is possible to remotely control the temperature in the house, to keep track of electricuty consumption and to compare this consumption against the estimated annual consumption. The thermostat of Google is even arranged such that it learns from his environment and can program himself to save energy.

Since 2015, Google has developed an IoT software platform called Project Brillo. With this platform, Google focuses primarily on the market for home automation solutions (such as the Amazon fridge). This platform is a simplified and energy-efficient version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android. Thanks to the accessibility of this platform, many developers can already make applications for existing devices, which considerably shortens the development time.

Because these devices do not have to transmit large commands, a Wi-Fi connection is often an “overkill”. In the Netherlands, several (large) parties offer networks to connect IoT devices to. LoRaWAN is one such network.

This network allows devices to connect to internet without having to use a mobile connection or Wi-Fi. The battery consumption is , therefore, a lot lower, the range is larger and the bandwidth is very limited. The network also simplifies the communication with wireless sensors so that new applications such as locating your car, keys or bag can be created. The range of this network can go up to fifteen kilometers per mast. The internet speed of the network is between 0.3 and 50 kbit / s.

Not only denial-of-sleep attacks (malicious code aimed at draining the battery) are a threat to IoT devices, according to Gartner. Gartner says the following about the security of these devices: “The Internet of Things introduces a wide range of new security risks and challenges for the IoT devices themselves, their platforms and operating systems, their communications, and even the systems with which they are connected. Security technologies will be needed to protect IoT devices and platforms from both information attacks and physical manipulation. But also to encrypt communication of these devices and to address new challenges such as ‘things’ or the denial-of-sleep attacks that drain the batteries. IoT security will be complicated by the fact that many ‘things’ use simple processors and operating systems that can not support advanced security systems.”

The market for IoT devices is virtually bottomless. As mentioned earlier, it is expected that by 2020 no less than 26 billion IoT devices will be used worldwide. However, good software and hardware are essential to these devices, especially, when it comes to security. The security solutions that are now offered are too fragmented and consist of different suppliers. Blockchain technology, a development that is also very topical, can provide a solution for the security of these devices. For many techies, engineers and software developers who are looking for a challenge, this is a development to keep an eye on!

The future of IoT will not only be interesting for developers. It will also become valuable for consumer. More and more devices will be developed with consumer friendliness and usability in mind. Good examples are the aforementioned smart refrigerator and the smart thermostats. The devices will, therefore, become ven more embdded in our daily lives in the attempt to make our lives easier.

At WIBA IT we regularly get vacancies that focus on software development and security (Java, C, C ++ and .NET) of IoT devices. Are you a freelance IT professional who wants to work with the latest technologies at leading companies? Then  sign up with WIBA IT and do not miss your perfect challenge.