With the advent of the internet, life has become ever so more straightforward. Unlike the
olden days where you would wait for a fortnight for a messenger to deliver a letter, today, you
can send a very detailed message in just a click. That is just half the part. Now it is not only
humans who can share information that fasts, but the After Google (AG) era has also seen
hardware devices become interconnected via the internet. This allows them to share information
to make man’s work easier. This is all thanks to the internet of things, which is the
interconnection of physical things or devices over a network to exchange information seamlessly
among themselves and with their surroundings (Sing & Kapoor, 2017). The community has been
quick to embrace the internet of things, and this can be witnessed, especially among the
hobbyists and researchers.
Consequently, the demand for IoT has skyrocketed to the extent that consumers are
starting to feel that the available IoT products in the market fail to fulfill people’s varied and
specific needs. In other words, the users want customized IoT devices that specifically target
their environments, jobs, leisure, and hobbies. This has led to the evolution of DIY IoT, whereby
an individual develops their own customized IoT applications for their different devices in a
manner that serves them best. This being the case, Sing and Kapoor (2017) project a future
where homes and offices will have unique internet addresses which will be managed and
manipulated via a network. But that will only be possible if the broader community from
individuals to organizations start developing their own DIY IoT. It is hence essential for people
to start learning about, developing, and deploying the internet of things.
THE APPLICATIONS AND MANAGEMENT OF IoT 2
Hardware Requirements for IoT
For IoT to work, things must first be connected. Such things are generally hardware
devices with embedded systems. The first things that come to mind are the already ubiquitous
mobile phones. Phones having sensors, unique addresses, and internet connectivity could easily
be used as access centers or hubs for the IoT soon (Sing & Kapoor, 2017). Paul Jacobs, who is
the former CEO of Qualcomm, posit that what the IoT needs are smart objects and embedded
systems (Sing & Kapoor, 2017). This describes the current smartphones that we have. The smart
objects, as Jacobs, call them can then be connected via Bluetooth Low Energy, Wi-Fi, and
IoT hardware can generally be categorized into wearable devices and embedded systems
and boards. We’ve seen wearable devices such as smart watches pioneered by Samsung in the
form of Samsung Gear 2 and Google in the form of Google Glass. In the case of embedded
systems and boards, the ESP8266 Wi-Fi Module is a renowned solution, especially among the
hobbyists. Some leading boards that are also being explored today include Rapberry Pi, Pinoccio,
Cloudbit or LittleBits, Samsung Artik, Photon, UDOO, and BeagleBone, to name a few (Sing &
Kapoor, 2017). There is a variety of options for IoT enthusiasts, which can get rather daunting.
However, what is crucial knowing what to look for in these embedded Systems and Boards
depending on one’s intended area of application.
Finding the best Platform /Board for IoT Projects
The first consideration to make is the specifications of the embedded system or board to
be used. The processor or microcontroller, communication, clock speed, GPIO, ADC/DAC, and
connectivity are just some of the core specifications that come to mind when looking for a
platform (Sing & Kapoor, 2017). Depending on one’s tasks at hand and budget, they may decide
to go for high-end specifications or low-end. Open standards, communities, and libraries provide
the DIYer with the much-needed flexibility and easy access to resources for maximum
efficiency. The third factor is the open hardware (Sing & Kapoor, 2017). These allow a
considerable room for configuration and prototyping. Also, having open hardware that can apply
across a wide range of platforms is a great way to save on design costs.
For any hardware to communicate and carry out tasks, the software is needed. For the
case of IoT, software that bridges the gap between the embedded systems and the hardware
components is necessary. In that consideration, knowledge of the common programming
languages often used in software development is critical. DIYers need knowledge of languages
such as C, C++, and Python to understand the applicability of core IoT software (Sing & Kapoor,
2017). Consequently, proficiency in middleware applications and API through the knowledge of
Management of the Internet of Things
Having seen the requirements of the internet of things, it is crucial to see how they
combine actually to accomplish tasks and manage those tasks effectively. IoT offers the ability to
integrate the information existing in the physical world and the virtual worlds (Yao, Sheng, and
Dustdar, 2015). That, however, comes with challenges, especially in the maintaining of the
smooth and seamless interconnection of the physical and online environment. The process of
acknowledging the smooth flow of information, the exchange of that information, and the
manipulation of that information between the physical and virtual worlds has proven a no easy
feat (Yao, Sheng, and Dustdar, 2015). Take, for example, an application that is meant to scan the
physical world for an object, say a shopping center, then recommend a particular shop in that
THE APPLICATIONS AND MANAGEMENT OF IoT 3
center and relay that information to the end-user on their wearable device. A lot of abstraction,
information access, and exchange and manipulation are going on at the same time, all of which
must be managed. These require a system design that aids in the management process.
Yao, Sheng, and Dustdar (2015) proposes a system design that maps physical things and
their related data to the appropriate virtual resources tasked with collecting and visualizing them
with the help of sophisticated software components. The system first identifies physical objects
then connects the online. Of importance in the identification of the objects is the use of a Radio-
Frequency Identification technology (RFID) (Yao, Sheng, and Dustdar, 2015). The physical
objects are assigned RFID tags that are detected and decoded by RFID readers. On the other side
of the system are sensors that transfer the raw data to the network for processing. This entire
process is arranged in layers, as discussed below.
The Data Access and Sensor Hive
This layer manages the RFID tags and sensors that are linked to reals things in the
physical world. It then processes them and assigns them a universal API for more complex
programs to decipher the actual status of things. Since there is more than one sensor, all
delivering data asynchronously, this system structures the data synchronously for easy retrieval
by the high-level applications.
In this module, the online things categorized in classes are matched to their physical
things correspondents (Yao, Sheng, and Dustdar, 2015). It collects information from the sensor
hive to use it to interpret the state of the physical device. For instance, a virtual device of a fuel
gauge of a car can query the sensor values associated with the physical fuel gauge from the
sensor hive layer and use that data to tell whether the car’s tank is empty or full.
This layer extracts the usage events data from the virtual things layer and uses that data
for management. It takes place in three stages; events detection contextual retrieval and event
aggregation (Yao, Sheng &Dustdar, 2015). The detector retrieves the data on whether the
physical thing is being used or is idle. Consequently, the contextual information retriever collects
contextual data available in the usage instances of the object in question. Finally, the event
aggregator collects and indexes all the events and services associated with the physical thing as
well as their virtual information in the server. With the data pulled together, the systems can
identify correlations and use that to make suggestions or recommendations to the end-user.
The Service Layer
In this layer exists a rule engine and a service container. The later transforms event and
information into similar services while the former allows the application to control a physical
device remotely by generating rules.
The User Interface Layer
This, just as the name suggests, is where the end-user gets to manage all the events going
on in the system. Actions that can be performed on this layer include the connection of new
devices, monitoring, control, mash up, and visualization (Yao, Shenng & Dustdar, 2015).
The Challenges and Gaps in IoT Applications
As the IoT continues to develop, it still faces challenges in different forms. In the
discovery stage, indexing and organizing and managing physical things pose a real challenge.
Consequently, finding the underlying correlations among the things themselves is a tough
challenge. So, the system often has a group of things that cannot be easily linked together owing
to their heterogeneous nature and functionality, varied access methods, and unique descriptions
THE APPLICATIONS AND MANAGEMENT OF IoT 4
(Yao, Sheng &Dustdar, 2015). It may not always be visible what the connection between things
existing in isolated states.
Another challenge lies in the transaction of information between the IoT devices. To
successfully process and manipulate information smoothly between the physical and virtual
worlds, tremendous volumes of data must be moved in either direction (Yao, Sheng &Dustdar,
2015). Therefore, the need to process big data and even heterogeneous data arises. This has
proven a hard task for analysts; hence an even more significant challenge for DIYers with
Finally, security is one challenge that cannot be overlooked. Remember, the IoT involves
the interconnection of small devices to a network. So, each point where a device connects to the
network is a potential exploit for malicious attackers (Microsoft, 2017). Also, enforcing scrutiny
and privacy protection in an IoT network is quite difficult for everyday applications. Naturally,
such applications will require access to a person’s location, schedule logs, and people
surrounding environment, which severely exposes the use of such applications.
Microsoft. (2017). The Right Secure Hardware for your IoT. [PDF file]. Retrieved from
Singh, K. J., & Kapoor, D. S. (2017). Create Your Own Internet of Things: A survey of IoT
platforms. IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, 6(2), 57-68.
Yao, L., Sheng, Q. Z., &Dustdar, S. (2015). Web-based management of the internet of
things. IEEE Internet Computing, 19(4), 60-67.