How Has the IoT Changed Software Engineering? - image

How Has the IoT Changed Software Engineering?

Despite achieving buzzword status over the past few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) plays a critical and ever-expanding role in today’s digitized, highly connected economies. This article will answer the questions of IoT impact and explore its several typical use cases.

What is IoT?

The term “IoT” appeared in 1999 to describe the idea of radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices in a significant food and beverage manufacturer’s supply chain connected to the Internet. These days, manufacturing and industrial firms benefit the most from IoT.

The fourth industrial revolution is predicated on IoT precisely, on the availability of remotely connected sensors continuously computing data regarding a remote environment’s conditions.

As its name implies, IoT consists of a network of “things” or physical devices, more often sensor-equipped, connected to the Internet, and accessible or managed remotely. They aim to collect data about the environment or specific conditions and may operate independently or in conjunction with other devices.

These days, myriad commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) IoT solutions enable organizations to deploy IoT quickly in their environments. Firms may also develop and implement customized software applications paired with commodity sensor hardware and low-cost microcontrollers (MCUs) for specialized use cases.

IoT as a Help for Business Models

Thanks to IoT, seamless communication is now possible by linking to any device for efficient communication. Objects can now exchange, collect and reciprocate information with minimal human intervention. The physical world is digitalizing itself with high-technology units like the cloud, big data, analytics, etc.

The IoT applies to many industries worldwide and improves tracking, monitoring, manufacturing, management, and planning more efficiently and faster. Likewise, the medical field has embraced this technology for a brighter future in the important healthcare sector. The scope of growth of IoT is promising, as it is estimated that the global net worth of these medical devices will grow to $94.2 billion by 2026.

IoT devices allow organizations to automate various business operations, including everyday activities. Device integration can connect mobile phones, TV, smartwatches, laptops, and sensors. IoT infrastructure and devices must communicate efficiently to make the devices operational. IoT-oriented software engineering comes into play.

IoT software engineering refers to the systematic development of IoT infrastructure using software and hardware solutions. IoT software engineering deals with data collected via sensors and processes it to make sense for real-world applications with intuitive UI and visual representation.

IoT has applications in many fields, such as aviation and avionics for status checking and sustainable activities, the automobile industry for engine parameters and vehicle safety, broadcast communications, and entertainment. Some of the growing popular applications include

  • medical services

  • smart cities

  • construction

  • smart market-based analysis

Has IoT Software Changed?

Over the past few years, the IoT software market has grown significantly in duo with the rapid adoption of IoT solutions and devices. Although the sector suffered briefly during the pandemic due to a pause in technology spending for specific sectors, it has since broadly regained its initial momentum. IoT solutions have become more powerful and efficient thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), edge computing, automation, and other emerging technologies. Machine learning algorithms, for example, can add predictive capabilities to IoT solutions.

For example, sensors attached to machines in the manufacturing sector can monitor equipment performance and predict when failures and breakdowns will occur. Having access to such information at an early stage allows faulty parts to be repaired or replaced to prevent large-scale operational defeats.

On the other hand, edge computing technology makes IoT devices with built-in analytics capabilities possible. It brings computation as close as possible to the data source, reduces network latency, and relieves network congestion, allowing information to be quickly delivered to the end user. Also, since personal data no longer has to leave a separate domain, many privacy and data security concerns can now be mitigated with IoT.

IoT as a Service (IoTaaS) offerings have also emerged as a new way for businesses to access IoT solutions. Vendors aim to offer IoT platform management services that allow companies to use IoT software and infrastructure without having to invest heavily in creating network architecture hardware, buying pricey software, or hiring trained staff to manage the process.

IoT Software Development Technologies

IoT development means combining hardware parts and software programs in such a way that the final product could monitor specific values, collect and transfer data, analyze given data, and cause the physical device to act correspondingly. Creating such systems is a true challenge.

Moreover, the Internet of Things has already been transformed into an industry in its own right, so the need for reliable and comprehensive developer toolkits has also increased. IoT development tools needed to create complex applications are represented by IoT hardware devices (boards, SoM, SoC, sensors, gateways, trackers, and more), IoT app development platforms, IoT operating systems, and programming languages.

Security & IoT

IoT security has become extremely necessary for organizations seeking to successfully implement IoT solutions. It is because the acceleration of digital transformation has led to an influx of network-connected devices. With the exponential growth in the number of devices connected to the Internet, the attack surface has also expanded significantly.

Opportunistic cybercriminals now have more entry points — from unsecured connections and legacy devices to weak digital connections — to take control of these IoT devices to spread malware or gain direct network access to obtain critical data.

For IoT devices, the risks are twice as high for two reasons. First, IoT devices typically lack built-in security features, making them easy targets for hackers. Second, IoT devices, especially small or lightweight ones, can be easily lost or stolen. Unauthorized users who take physical possession of the devices can easily gain access to your network.

This is why cybersecurity is a massive area of ​​focus for IoT devices and software right now. On the other hand, failure to secure IoT ecosystems can lead to erosion of trust in their potential throughout the organization and wasted investment costs.

More technology vendors are now adopting a “security by design” approach to IoT hardware and software development, which considers building security features from the very beginning.

Cybersecurity platform vendors also add special security features to IoT data collection and storage functions to protect sensitive data transmitted between an IoT device and the network from unauthorized access.

Understanding IoT System Architecture

Compared to any traditional software development process, the process for IoT architecture is considerably different. An IoT-based system comprises four stages of architecture.

Stage 1: Sensors & Actuators

In this stage, the architecture consists of sensors and actuators that collect data from the environment or object and turn it into valuable data.

Stage 2: Data Preprocessing

The data collected by sensors in stage 1 are usually analog and raw. For IoT applications to use this data, it needs to be aggregated and converted into digital data. Data acquisition systems connected to sensor networks perform the analog-to-digital conversion.

Stage 3: IT Systems

The converted data can't simply pass into the data center. Engineers must address issues such as lack of space and security. The data must be preprocessed, and only the significant results must be given to the cloud.

Stage 4: The Cloud

After significant data is extracted, it is stored in either traditional data centers or the cloud. From there, IT professionals can reshape the data and make it readable for the end users.

Considerations of IoT Development

There are some factors to keep in mind while developing IoT devices:

  • Cost: “Smart” or “Internet of Things” products benefit customers and manufacturers, although they are pricey.

  • Features: Companies can now add capabilities to their IoT projects/products that were before impossible or unimaginable without an IoT-connected product. These capabilities allow to contact customers directly for updates, maintenance, and new revenue opportunities.

  • User Interface: It’s crucial to consider how a user interacts with a product — with the help of buttons, LEDs, or a display.

  • Power: The power supply should be one of the primary considerations. If batteries power the device, all design decisions must consider power conservation. Many networking technologies are incompatible with battery power.

  • Size: It’s all about the size. Consider how the device’s size will be affected by the network.

  • Interoperability: Is it necessary for your IoT solution to communicate with those of other vendors? If that’s the case, you’ll need to use a common set of protocols to communicate with other devices.

Connected Networks Aid Manufacturers

IoT technology has a great deal of potential to advance the manufacturing industry. With arrays of sensors on factory floors, this industry has become more automated than ever before. One of the most important results of the expansion of IoT sensors in manufacturing is that these networks are powering advanced artificial intelligence applications. AI can’t provide solutions like predictive maintenance, defect detection, digital twins, and generative design without critical data provided by sensors.

Future of IoT: Trends & Ideas

AIoT — Artificial Intelligence & IoT Technology

One of the most fascinating use cases of IoT technology is to support artificial intelligence software. Artificial intelligence and IoT have a mutualistic relationship. AI is benefitted from IoT with distributed data, and IoT is benefitted from AI with advanced management.

IoT Connectivity

The main challenge that IoT networks have had to overcome in recent years is wireless data rates. As these technologies improve, so too will the aspects of IoT technology, including sensors, edge computing, wearables, smart homes, and more. Recently, more infrastructure has been developed for newer connectivity types that make IoT solutions more feasible. These are connectivity technologies like 5G, Wi-Fi 6, LPWAN, BLE, and satellites.

Edge Computing – Low Latency & Security

Real-time applications depend on edge computing. Instead of calculating everything at a central source, edge networks process information closer to the user and lighten the load of the entire network for all users.

Not only can edge computing reduce the latency of IoT technology, but it also has the potential to increase the security of data processing. If data can be processed on an edge device instead of being transmitted to a central server, there are fewer opportunities for it to be intercepted by hackers. All that needs to happen is for the information to be exchanged with the edge device and then handed right back to the user. The information doesn’t need to be stored using memory in this case.

Wearable IoT Technology

While sensors and edge devices are vital for many IoT technology solutions, wearable IoT devices shouldn’t be overlooked. Smartwatches, earbuds and extended reality (AR/VR) headsets are important wearable IoT devices that are making waves in 2022 and will only continue to evolve.

Smart Homes

The rise of digital assistants has transformed the smart home industry. With at-home IoT technology in 2022 now able to manage innumerable devices like lights, appliances, and even home security systems, the technology seems to have reached an apex. However, there is still much more room for growth that we will see over the next several years. According to Mordor Intelligence, the smart home market will have a CAGR of 25% between now and 2025, allowing the industry to reach a size of $246 billion.

Smart Cities

There are many applications of IoT technology when developing smart city networks. Traffic monitoring is one of the most pressing issues. Being able to monitor traffic with sensors placed city-wide enables better control over intersections for better traffic optimization. Water level monitoring can also be useful to help detect and inform citizens about potential and active flooding.

Smart streetlights have a variety of possibilities. As platforms for sensors, they can be used to detect weather conditions, monitor traffic, host public Wi-Fi, and conduct surveillance. These streetlights can also be used as edge devices that can control digital street signs. They may even have the streetlights mounted on the light pole itself.

IoT Technology in Healthcare

It’s not only about wearables and healthcare. For example, WebRTC unified with IoT networks can provide more efficient telemedicine in certain areas where it may be more efficient to use edge devices than a traditional Internet connection. There are also plenty of traditional IoT use cases such as hospital-room sensors that can monitor patient vitals over the day to aid doctors in diagnosis and treatment. The evolution of this technology has accelerated due to the spread of COVID-19.

Final Part

With digitalization taking place at a rapid pace, more and more companies are adopting IoT-based solutions. Numerous devices, plug-and-play sensors, and external applications run on IoT platforms. These platforms provide the core components to build and manage an IoT solution. IoT solutions and software development are impacting each other, and this trend is growing with more business-friendly features such as low-code or no-code platforms.


Evgeniy Berkovich
Evgeniy Berkovich (CEO ) CEO of BeKey with more than 15 years of experience in software development — in particular, in the digital healthcare industry. Helps startups to bring their product to the market.
Mariia Maliuta
Mariia Maliuta (Copywriter) "Woman of the Word" in BeKey; technical translator/interpreter & writer

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