Internet of Things(IoT): Key concepts and skills as well as challenges

Published by: Albert Gibosse

Internet of Things(IoT): Key concepts and skills as well as challenges

Many editorials and commentaries have afforded different definitions to IoT (the Internet of Things) and usually close by featuring stats and metrics toward Illustrating how IoT is swiftly emerging, without providing an overview of the concepts and skills that are necessary for a successful IoT project.

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In this article, I will explore key concepts and skills, including rapidly evolving technologies (hardware and/or devices, network technologies and IoT platform(s)) as well as challenges for developers working on IoT projects.

My definition of The Internet of Things (IoT) is that, “IoT is a worldwide system of interconnected smart devices that deliver data via the Internet. IoT is poised to transform every aspect of the way we live and work. IoT devices have now been widely implemented across a range of industries, including home automation, manufacturing, automotive, healthcare, retail, and building automation, and beyond….

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Businesses are successfully leveraging data from connected devices to create value toward increasing operational efficiency and providing the best user experiences to their clients.

Moreover, at the pace that IoT adoption is increasing, and while taking into account the sheer volume of connected devices that is already in the billions, skilled developers who can deliver on the IoT promise will remain in great demand.

You must calibrate yourself well by honing on a diverse set of skills as well as a willingness to adapt to agile processes, platforms and tools, in order to be a successful IoT developer in this challenging environment.

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Similarly, in order to make the most out of the opportunities that IoT offers, developers should foster skills across a range of crucial areas, including hardware, networking, application design, application development, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), security as well as business intelligence and data analytics.

Starting with Hardware

With billions of interconnected devices (aka “things”, in IoT) with attached sensors and actuators that sense and control the physical world, hardware is at heartd of IoT projects. Moreover, while development of the hardware for these devices requires specialized electrical engineering skills, the physical design requires industrial design and CAD skills.

Beyond network connectivity to transmit the data that these hardware collect, these devices more often require some basic processing and storage capabilities, provided by a micro-controller or by a SoC( System-on-a-Chip) integrated circuit. IoT devices are embedded devices with a circuit design that must be optimized to overcome operating constraints, including environmental conditions, the type and number of sensors and actuators attached to each device, volume of data to be collected and transmitted, the size, power, and range for the device as well as the cost per unit, and beyond….

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Thanks to readily available resources on the market, such as single-board-computers that incorporate commoditized micro-controller platforms, using these readily available IoT devices to quickly prototype your IoT products before having your custom circuit boards (PCBs) built can help you save money, Moreover, prototyping with these platforms requires circuit design skills, micro-controller programming, as well as an understanding of hardware communication protocols necessary to establish communication between the micro-controller and the connected sensors and actuators.

Networking

As networking is what enables devices to communicate with each other as well as with applications and services that are running in the cloud, networking design and management, topology(ies), communication protocols and technologies are essential skills in the IoT sphere, granted the heterogeneous nature of devices.

IoT networking considerations and challenges

Adopting networking technologies and topologies, you must also provision to overcome challenges and to deal with constraints, such as range, interoperability, bandwidth, security, power usage, intermittent connectivity

IoT Platforms

Depending on your IoT project, an IoT platform might be useful to your IoT solution, as IoT platforms have the following capabilities:

  • Minimize time to market and remain competitive
  • Device management
  • Data communication protocols
  • Data storage
  • Rules and analytics
  • Rapid application development and deployment
  • Integration
  • Security
  • Cost of developing and maintaining the solutions that you build with the IoT platform.

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