The Cloud and The Internet of Things (IoT)

Getting Started with the Internet Of Things

The new exciting technology that seems to be here to stay is IoT. Have you heard of it ? If not you’ll soon be using it without even knowing it’s here, or there, or everywhere. and believe me it will be everywhere. It is the only, truly omnipresent technology. Before I start discussing what on Earth it is though, it’s worth noting that if you are embarking on a career in Engineering, you must become a Zen master at the art of the T.L.A. The ironic thing about T.L.A.’s is they are Three Letter Acronyms themselves, and the irony is the self-describing quality of this oft coined term. Today’s Blog T.L.A. then is I.o.T. There will be a little mention on A.W.S. also, actually I think I will summarize…

I will be looking at how we can use a M.K.R. M.C.B. as an I.o.T. device, talking to A.W.S. using U.D.P. Got it ? O.M.G.

The Internet of things is a term used to describe the connection of devices to the internet. By devices I mean anything electronic that can create or collect data. It could be a thermometer measuring the temperature outside connected to an Arduino. This temperature data is recorded every hour by a device such as an Arduino MKR 1000, it is then uploaded to a web service via a Wifi connection. The data is then stored in a database accessed from the same web service,and we can use HTTP to POST (send data) to it or GET (retrieve data), then an application or web browser pulls this data from the database via the web service and displays it as a line graph on a web page showing the data, where we can compare it year by year.

The Internet of Things sounds like a technology on the periphery, something on the fringes, for the scientific community to experiment with, there’s nothing in it for us average people, right ? Oh yes there is. Imagine the power of having everything connected to the internet. I’m talking about everything in your life, your car, home, all appliances, even your kids clothes, and then the obvious, your watch, your phone, computer, tablet! Want to turn on the lights in your house when you’re on holiday,to make it look like you’re at home ? Thus avoiding an unpleasant visit from an intruder ?  (yes we all do it!) Want the fridge to tell you when you are out of eggs ? What about looking at how many steps you’ve walked this week ? How much you spent shopping. How many miles the car has done. When the car is due for a service. What you ate every time you went to a restaurant that year. Want to see your 3 month old babies temperature displayed on the TV ? What about playing a game of chess with your brother in Australia using a real chess board, but never even talking to him or communicating with him about your new move ? The possibilities are endless, and yes that’s the difficult part, what on Earth makes sense to do with it all ?

All of the large companies that produce appliances are now clambering over each other to get their devices IoT compliant. Marketing departments will soon be filling white boards with imagines of idiotic members of the public looking at their watches, next to them on the board will be images of fridges, TVs, ovens and in between us all will be that aforementioned T.L.A…yes…”I.o.T.”. The future really is about connectivity. Yesterday it was connectivity via social media, all of us connected via Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, Twitter etc. The perfect setup to capture not only everything we like, but everything we do and everyone we know. Commercially a dream situation, worth billions, with people volunteering to tell companies everything about themselves, and also about their friends, companies then buying all of this information, the market of information is worth billions. Now, it is the connection between inanimate objects and the internet. Then from the internet connected back to us, the consumer.

So the question is, What is the best use for all this ? Is there a good use for it ? I’m sure when Apple launched the IPad Tablet many people said the same. But, unlike the tablet (which is in heavy decline), the I.o.T. is not a single device, it is a technology, and one that will always be available. This is the golden age, the age of the pioneer. Twenty five years ago Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Paypal, Ebay all of these companies didn’t even exist. The people that started these companies jumped on board the new technology wave and pioneered new ideas and products. This might just be one of those moments again, where similar opportunities exist. Why not think of something then to utilize this technology ?  No, I know, it’s too hard to get started right ? It’s not something you have time for. You’ve got a great idea, but it’s just not possible for you to figure out how to bring it to fruition.

Well, it’s your luck day ! Every two weeks I will be putting up a new blog entry that will show you how to start off with an Arduino type device, and using Wifi connect it to the cloud. You will then be able to send data (any data) from an electronic device to the internet cloud. And then from the internet we will be visualizing the data. So let’s get started in two weeks. Start thinking of your fantastic idea and together we will bring it to the world !

This is a great place to start a home based project, either for yourself, for a school/university project, a project that brings the family together, or it could even be the start of your future company.

To give you a rough itinerary here’s what will be coming up :

  1. Setting up the MKR 1000 Arduino board in Windows to collect data and send it through HTTP to the web
  2. Setting up Amazon Web Services (AWS), to accept data via HTTP
  3. Storing all the data from the Arduino
  4. Pulling the IoT data from the internet and displaying it on a C# App
  5. Pulling the IoT data from the internet and displaying it on a web page

See you in 2 weeks !

About the Author

Marcus O'Brien

Hi ! I’m Marcus O’Brien, I‘ve been a qualified Software Engineer for 20 years now. I chose engineering as a career because of my passion for learning anything to do with computing, be it programming languages, computer architectures or even operating systems. Now, after a journey through many diverse industries, I work for a video games company in Vancouver writing some of the best AAA and mobile game titles in the world! To keep my skills up-to-date, I work on several home projects involving many new areas of software, including genetic programming, swarm intelligence, artificial intelligence and recently robotics and automation. Technology to me is a fascinating, endless, almost infinite expanse of wonder. Every day, technology is moving us faster towards the future of mankind. Where will we end up? How will we develop and fit into this vast Universe? And more importantly, what is it going to look like when we get there?