How IoT Affects the Future of Web Development

The Internet of Things is a moderately new technology that uses network sensors in physical devices to provide real-time and remote control and monitoring. Over the past few years, the use of smart devices has skyrocketed. The number of IoT connected devices exceeded the global population in the year 2008 and has grown steadily since then. 94% of businesses that have invested in IoT technology have already seen positive returns.

The products developed using the Internet of Things technology will reach the global value of 6.3 trillion US dollars by the year 2025. In fields like healthcare, retail, manufacturing, learning management systems, IoT devices are now the norm. The future lies in this technology.

A shift towards these smart devices will require changes in the development processes of other fields as well. In this article, we cover the changes the typical web development cycle will witness in the coming future.

The first step is understanding where the connection between these two fields lies. An experienced web developer usually works on one or more of the following areas – database management, client-server interaction, and the user interface and experience (UI and UX). A developer that works on all of these areas is known as a full stack developer.

An IoT device works in the following way –

  • Remote sensors collect data from their environment. For instance, consider a Fitbit. Fitbits are made using a sensor known as the gyroscope. A gyroscope records the user’s movements.
  • The data collected is then sent to a cloud database system.
  • From here, based on client requests, the server fetches details from the database and displays it on a front-end device (such as the screen of the Fitbit) for the user to continuously monitor.

Throughout this process, a web developer’s role has evolved from handling simple client requests to providing an interface for continuous data collection from a complex network of sensors.

1. Developing a dynamic user interface:

With the advent of the Internet of Things, the number of devices that display the web has risen. Personal devices such as the Google Home Mini or Amazon Echo offer web features through voice instead of visually displaying it. Wearables such as smart watches have small displays that require a real-time and friendly user interface. The standard practices employed by front-end developers must evolve to keep up with the display interfaces of smart devices. A clean, fast, and interactive layout are vital for IoT device interfaces.

2. More emphasis on privacy and security:

Unlike classic web development, smart devices are more prone to being exposed to private and confidential data. In-turn, this leads to a higher risk factor of hackers attempting to breach the security to collect this data. To ensure that smart devices offer privacy, they must have the best security features there exists. A developer must follow current design patterns for security both on the device as well as the datastore on the cloud.

According to the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), the number one security weakness in an Internet of Things application is the web interface. This means that significant vulnerabilities can be found if advanced security measures were not considered and implemented during the web development and design phases.

3. Replace old client-server models with newer, more efficient ones:

The Internet of Things relies on rapid responses to requests and changes in the environment. The standard request-response model that is commonly used by websites is no longer applicable in this scenario. The current situation requires fast and efficient models. Web servers are now being taken over by cloud-based servers. With cloud technology and complex networks for the remote devices, developers will have their hands full with new tools and technology available and required by IoT applications.

4. Handling a large quantity of data at a time:

A relatively unique aspect of the Internet of Things is the large amount of data that gets collected over short durations. An important aspect of development in this field will require handling this data efficiently. There are a lot of problems associated with handling this kind of data. Large volumes of data can cause unacceptable latency in the network. Storage and retrieval of this data will also cause a delay if not implemented properly.

IoT devices require solutions that are both scalable and reliable, with high volumes of data. Scalability ensures that the network is capable of handling any size of data appropriately. Reliability ensures that the entire system is operational at all times. A survey taken by RT Insights found that most developers pinpoint scalability and reliability as the top two most important features in an IoT application. Communication protocols such as XMPP and AMQP are meant to be used with IoT devices to handle these concerns.

5. Power Management

Standard network protocols consume a high amount of power. When developing an IoT application, a developer must take into consideration the power consumption of each protocol used. A concrete power management plan should be established before a developer starts implementing any of the required features.

According to an article published on ReadWrite, there are a few significant skills required by an IoT application developer. These are listed below.

  • Design systems that allow interoperability between different systems and network protocols.
  • Provide security measures to prevent unauthorized access as well as protect data.
  • Maintain awareness of radio and band signals on which the device will operate.
  • Maintain awareness of lightweight energy saving protocols.
  • Prioritize and retrieve requested information in a timely manner.
  • Allow remote access and control of devices for better resource management.

If you are a web developer looking to update your skills for the IoT environment, keep the following in mind. Make sure to build awareness and understanding of the methods and trends in IoT development. While there are no industry standards set for IoT devices as of now, a proper well-thought-out plan is more likely to succeed than an improvised plan. Finally, always be ready to optimize and improve the code.

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