Full Stack IoT Development
The Internet of Things (IoT) is spearheading a major technology disruption today. The implications of interconnecting billions of devices (also referred to as “things” in IoT parlance), are phenomenal. The data exchanged through this connected network can produce new experiences and improve the overall efficiency of the network.
In 2020, organizations have realized the immense potential that an IoT infrastructure holds. IoT can be a critical improvement lever when businesses are tiding over a difficult phase. This is precisely where full stack IoT development marks its presence.
It is interesting to note that IoT has matured multifold over the past few years. Businesses have reached a phase where they are developing transformative business use cases to capitalize on the many advantages offered by IoT.
Here, we explore the complexities involved in the development of a full stack IoT solution and the inherent best practices.
Full Stack IoT Architecture
There are 5 main components in a full stack IoT architecture:
- Connected Devices
- Cloud Platform
- Communication Network
- End-User Interfaces/Applications
Let us briefly examine each of these IoT components:
- Connected Devices
- Cloud Platform
A simple device in an IoT infrastructure comprises a microcontroller unit (MCU), firmware and hardware. You may also find complex connected devices, each composed of a Microprocessing Unit (MPU), an operating system and the associated hardware.
IoT devices are connected to the cloud platform through gateways. The gateway is essentially a bridge between the device sensors and the cloud server, and it enables protocol translation. Management of multiple connected devices is also performed by the IoT gateway.
The cloud platform integrates data, analyzes it and interprets data at scale for generating insights and actionable tasks.
The insights received from the cloud platform are passed on to the connected applications for execution.
Apart from the aforementioned components, the security layer of the full-stack IoT architecture should be emphasized. Advanced security features of an IoT implementation forms the foundation of the entire solution.
Security Features in an End-to-End IoT Solution
Every component in an IoT architecture should be reinforced with adequate security protocols. This ensures that the entire system is protected from the relentlessly inventive modes of security breaches seen today.
Some of the best practices followed while incorporating security into an IoT architecture are detailed below:
- Identify fundamentals of IoT security in design phase – Implementation of security should be considered in the design phase of the IoT architecture. Incorporating a security development life cycle from an early phase in the project enables the development team to identify and adhere to security compliance requirements later on. There also needs to be elaborate system penetration testing to assess the vulnerabilities of the IoT architecture.
- Do not compromise on security features – In an attempt to reduce time to market, companies may overlook the importance of a robust security shield for the IoT solution. However, this is one aspect that should not be missed.
- Incorporate end-to-end security – Imagine a scenario where the security protocols are in place only at the device level. In this case, perpetrators only need to focus on hacking that particular device in order to gain access to the entire IoT infrastructure. This can lead to the compromise of the network as a whole. Hence, it is imperative that all different layers of an IoT solution are reinforced with security features.
All in all, employing hardware-based security, firewalls/gateways, unique identity keys and regular event monitoring can avoid security breaches to a great extent.
Interoperability Considerations in Full Stack IoT Development
It is crucial to ensure that the IoT system is capable of interoperability with the external environment for the use case. This relies largely on standardization levels and communication protocols.
- Businesses have to consider the connectivity technologies supported, i.e., Bluetooth, WiFi, Ethernet, etc.
- Another aspect to consider is the networking layer and how data will be transmitted to and from the cloud.
- The protocols for application data transfer (MQTT, CoAP, AMQP, etc.) should also be decided beforehand to get a complete understanding of the interoperability parameters.
- Following this, development tasks related to protocol translation and establishing connectivity with different systems are determined.
It is advisable to develop domain/protocol agnostic capabilities in the IoT ecosystem so that it can seamlessly interact with the IoT systems that will connect to it in the future.
Scalability Features in Full Stack IoT Ecosystem
As the IoT architecture becomes more complex, there will be additional challenges related to firmware, security, connectivity issues and data structures. Hence, it is important to design an infrastructure that can withstand large-scale manageability.
- A modular method of building the IoT framework is preferred as this makes the overall solution easily manageable.
- Scalability should be considered when selecting hardware during the design phase.
- Extending the intelligence through edge computing is another way to manage complexity in an IoT infrastructure. This is where the significance of IoT gateways are felt. Device management and data flow management are two primary activities governed by IoT gateways.
PdM performs non-interfering equipment monitoring to identify faults before they occur
Development of an IoT Solution
While designing and developing an IoT solution, there is a lot to consider unlike a simple product development project with front-end, back-end and UI/UX development activities.
So, what does it take to create an IoT solution?
In some cases, the development efforts may be limited to the creation of a mobile application or backend cloud application. An example of this is our project for the development of a portable ECG device for a global medical equipment company.
In other cases, it may entail the development of sensors to collect data from devices and pass it on to a full-fledged IoT architecture.
However, creation of a full stack IoT ecosystem includes the design and development of an end-to-end solution, as described in our home automation project. The various aspects to be considered in such a project are:
- Design and development of hardware components
- Embedded software development for devices
- Integration of cloud platform
- Firmware programming at the IoT gateway (if applicable) and cloud
- Management of the entire network (including FOTA updates)
- Design and development of end-user applications for monitoring/controlling devices
- Data analytics to enhance the overall operations of the IoT ecosystem
- Third-party integrations (if applicable)
Business Use Cases of Full Stack IoT Solutions
- For home automation, the data collected from sensors in the house is used for monitoring or controlling consumer devices through the internet. In other words, specific actions will be performed by connected devices in the house when certain situations arise.
- The connected devices can be controlled through an app or voice commands.
- This applies to adjustment of lighting, automatic opening/closing of doors, temperature control of the interiors, activation of irrigation systems in gardens and much more.
- Developing an IoT solution for this use case may include network user and device management configuration, IoT mobile app development activities, Android/Linux porting and wireless connectivity optimization.
- Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) comprises a network of sensors, gateways and devices interconnected in an industrial setting. This enables remote access and monitoring of industrial assets.
- Data collection and analysis achieved through this networking provides ample opportunities for improving efficiency of asset operations.
- IIoT solutions can be implemented easily by approaching an established IoT solution provider.
- Efforts involved in the development of a full stack IoT industrial automation solution may include the implementation of a SCADA solution, cloud platform development and wireless connectivity optimization.
- Fleet operating companies spend a lot of time and effort in asset management so that these adhere to safety standards and perform at desired levels. IoT plays a key role in optimizing fleet management.
- IoT implementation in fleet management can help in monitoring driver performance, vehicle tracking and fuel utilization.
- Real-time automated alerts based on driver behaviour helps a great deal in improving efficiency and reducing operating costs.
- Preventive maintenance is another benefit of implementing IoT in fleet management. Alerts for low battery or engine maintenance help in maintaining the vehicles in top condition.
- IoT implementation also helps fleet operators in automating trip planning, rerouting and other associated processes.
- Full stack IoT development enable enterprises to connect devices in a cost-effective manner over the internet. This helps them achieve a whole new level of operational efficiency.
- The data collected from the network can be utilized to innovate and establish a competitive advantage.
- Connected enterprises can benefit from IoT in energy management, asset monitoring and remote site management.
- Real-time analytics and cross-device communication are achieved through an IoT ecosystem, while ensuring multiple layers of security.
- In the healthcare industry, full stack IoT solutions can be highly advantageous. Real-time monitoring and reporting of statistics such as patient’s blood pressure, oxygen levels, health data, etc. through connected medical devices is a notable benefit.
- The vast amount of data collected through an IoT infrastructure can be used for medical research purposes.
- The data collected from individual patients can be used by physicians to make informed decisions on treatment.
- Patient monitoring on a continuous basis helps in detecting life threatening diseases at an early stage.
- Development of IoT powered medical equipment may entail network API harmonization, Android/Linux porting, mobile application development, driver development, etc.
Services Offered by Embitel
- Sensor Node Development – This includes IoT sensor node hardware design services and IoT sensor node development, testing, maintenance and support services.
- IoT Gateway Design and Development – This comprises IoT gateway and interface development for communication with sensor nodes, secure device registration, IoT hardware design consulting, IoT gateway software development and testing, and maintenance/support services for gateways.
- Cloud Platform Development and Analytics – This includes IoT sensor nodes and cloud interface development, integration of end-user application, database design and data management, and analytics/reporting.
- Mobile/Web/Desktop Application Development – UI/UX design and development, native/hybrid/mobile web app development, and integration of end user applications to the IoT framework are some of the services included here.
- HMI/UI Development – This comprises multi-platform HMI framework development, touch- and gesture-controlled design, 3D graphics design, plugin development and integration, and multilingual HMI application development.
- FOTA Update Service – This includes hardware and software design, development and testing of FOTA components.