00

If 2013 Focused on IoT Hardware, 2014 Should Focus on IoT Apps

new-internet-of-things

Editor’s Note: This is a post by Jackson Bond who is the co-founder of Relayr, the team behind the WunderBar. It’s the easiest way to start developing apps for the Internet of Things — without needing to know about hardware. Crowdfunding begins in January!

One year ago, Anthony Wing Kosner of Forbes magazine predicted that the Appification of the Internet would transform the role of the Internet. Kosner also stated that the complexity of tools needed to get the most out of this change needs to drastically reduce. The Internet of Things has made that need even more pressing for the makers and developers of the world.

The app developer is probably the most ignored figure in the Internet of Things universe, despite being the key to making it all work. There will be no part of our lives that will be left unscathed by the IoT boom over the coming years. From our gardens to our offices to our cars, more innovative ideas of how to use sensors will come about. If the current average car has over 400 sensors, what will the average apartment have in a years’ time? There will not just be more connected industry but also more connected society, whether we desire it or not. Some are calling it the “hardware revolution” – a refreshing break from the “appification of the internet” over the past five years.

hierarchy-developer-motivation

App developers already face complex challenges trying to make their apps viable in a multi-platform and multi-device industry. Now they have to consider how things are going to change when billions of sensors become deployed throughout the world. If fun is the biggest motivator for app developers to do their job, then how do we continue to ensure that making apps for the Internet of Things is fun? There is already a shortage of talented app developers out there.

Appification truly has only just begun, and the past few years have only served to build up to preparing for the Age of the Sensor.

“In just five years, an apps economy has emerged that is now worth over $25 billion in apps store sales alone. Mobile is dominating the landscape. Apple and Google lead the apps marketplace for smartphone and tablet devices, with approximately 1 million apps each in their app stores and over 100 billion downloads total.”

- CSC Point of View Apps rEvolution Report, 2013

The rapid increase in the popularity of RaspberryPi and Arduino have blinded hardware developers from what consumers are really going to be dealing with on a day-to-day basis: the apps that make them work. On smartphones. Unfortunately, hardware is not something that app developers typically train themselves in and the Internet of Things seems to be suggesting that they have to get the soldering irons out in order to ride the IoT wave. It seems that engineers and programmers are going to need to become even cosier than they already are. And then throw the UX designer in the mix.

iot-platform-challenges

We all want simplicity and speed

Keeping things simple is not just for the consumer but for the developer as well. The ICT industry is not a place where time is a luxury. Extended periods of time spent learning how a new device functions is undesirable for all except the most dedicated of geeks (sorry guys). After all, they’ll have their hands full learning the latest versions of HTML and iOS. All people are looking for the simplest solutions to their needs, wrapped in pleasant packaging, with an undaunting interface.

The Internet of Things is about programming objects that can accurately record physical conditions (sensing), transfer that information into a comprehensible format (communication) and arrange that data into something useful (management). As people become used to the gadgetry around them, they will push for making these devices be able to “do more” even when speed and simplicity are achieved – further pressuring app devs to come up with novel ideas.

“Increasingly, smartphones are acting as servers, capable of managing a variety of devices in sectors as diverse as health/fitness, television, transportation and payments, blurring many traditional industry boundaries. For industry… new standards will be needed, so that equipment and sensors can more easily communicate with one another.”

- CSC Point of View Apps rEvolution Report, 2013

At the end of the day, even in the Internet of Things, the question is still going to be: “Is there an app for that?”