How to Make a Software for the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Cover image by Purrweb UI

How to Make a Software for the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Daniil Rostrypa

Daniil Rostrypa

Rockstar Copywriter @ Stormotion

In the era of digitization, many aspects of people’s lives are being significantly improved by remotely controllable devices & whole infrastructures — the so-called Internet of Things.

This industry is continually growing & bringing new products: a nearly $250B market is projected to have grown by no less than 5 times by 2027.

IoT app development is necessary for many companies to enable remote control (*image by [Purrweb UI](https://dribbble.com/purrwebui){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

IoT app development is necessary for many companies to enable remote control (image by Purrweb UI)

Not only “things” get improved but software for their remote control gets diversified as well. Nowadays, it can be fully tailored to your specific devices and apps for smaller “things,” i. e., for smart homes and extensive dashboards for large-scale devices, from medical appliances at hospitals to smart sprinklers on agricultural fields.

So, if you’d like to build an IoT software of any type or simply learn more about it — welcome!

✅ Top Things to Pay Attention to When Developing a Software for Your IoT Device

The process of IoT software development can be quite challenging in terms of technological nuances. Yet, to avoid potential pitfalls and make the development process of the Internet of Things smoother and easier, we recommend paying attention to a few specifics. Here they are!

Firmware

Firmware is a software program that’s “responsible” for communication between hardware systems:

  • Hardware Boards.
  • Edge Computing.
  • Sensors.

It can be developed using different languages from C to Python. The most basic & easy-to-use platform for developing the firmware is Arduino.

As for the software (with the successfully functioning firmware) management features development, we at Stormotion use various tech-stack such as React, React Native, Java/Kotlin, and many others.

Firmware is an important part to develop iot apps for smart devices (*image by [S.Mostafa Esmaeili](ttps://dribbble.com/Me4){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

Firmware is an important part to develop iot apps for smart devices (image by S.Mostafa Esmaeili)

Depending on your use case, certain teck-stack might be more suitable for you.

What we’d like to draw your attention to here is firmware updating. Nowadays, the easiest way to do that is with Over-the-Air (OTA) updates, meaning that the new version is simply installed remotely.

It’s important since sometimes it is prohibited for users to stick to older versions of firmware, which, basically, blocks access to the thing until it’s updated.

Imagine if somebody isn't able to open the door because of an outdated version of the firmware when being late for a flight. That can damage the brand’s reputation and cause a loss of trust.

So, first and foremost, think about making it optional or warn about the forthcoming update several times in advance. Moreover, it might be a good idea to offer users to schedule it by themselves.

Third-Party Integrations

If your use case implies integration of third-party devices, you should pay attention to these aspects of IoT software development:

  • Data Acquisition Module.
  • Data Processing Module.
  • Communications Module.

Let’s review them one by one.

# 1: Data Acquisition Module

The Data Acquisition Module is the part of the hardware that helps to receive physical signals coming from a “thing” and convert them into digital signals that a computer is able to process.

The physical signals here imply:

  • Temperature.
  • Vibration.
  • Motion.
  • Light & others.
An important part of Internet of Things (IoT) app development is building Data Acquisition Module (*image by [Igor Savelev](https://dribbble.com/igorsavelev){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

An important part of Internet of Things (IoT) app development is building Data Acquisition Module (image by Igor Savelev)

When working with this part, there are several aspects that we’d recommend taking into account:

  • Signals that will be measured. It’s essential to decide what sensors and devices for measurement you’ll need.
  • The number of sensors.
  • The speed needed for the measurement of physical signals — indicators such as sample rate.
  • The needed measurement accuracy — indicators such as sensor resolution.

Once you have answers to these questions, you’ll be able to determine the requirements for this module (in particular, your use case).

# 2: Data Processing Module

This part of devices serves several goals:

  • Data processing.
  • Analytics.
  • Data storing & other computing operations.
Data Processing Module is an important part of IoT app development for any type of IoT devices (from smart homes to medical IoT systems) (*image by [Stas Koval](https://dribbble.com/StasKoval){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

Data Processing Module is an important part of IoT app development for any type of IoT devices (from smart homes to medical IoT systems) (image by Stas Koval)

Your role here is to understand & explain the end goal of the development of the Internet of Things so you can guide your development and engineering teams.

Here, the key points might be:

  • The amount of data that’ll be processed. This indicator will depend on the number of sensors, whether you’ll need real-time control and analytics, how much space you’ll want to leave for future updates, any size constraints, etc.
  • The amount of data you’ll need to store locally. So, the data you’ll obtain will be either sent to the Cloud (or any external storage) or stored locally. Thus, you’ll need to decide how much data you’ll need to store temporarily to do all the necessary calculations or for buffering purposes in case your cloud connection crashes. Besides, don’t forget to consider whether or not you’ll need your “thing” to work offline, and if yes, for how long as that will define the capacity of the local storage.

At first, it may not seem that significant but eventually, these two indicators will have quite a big impact on your development costs, size of the “thing,” number & complexity of features, etc.

# 3: Communications Module

This part of the hardware is intended to enable communication between your external storage and any third-party integrations/devices.

It can be set up by using communication ports such as USBs and wireless protocols (we’ll talk about that in the next subsection).

Example of Internet of things applications for plant watering and smart homes (*image by [Sèrgi Mi](https://dribbble.com/SergiMi){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

Example of Internet of things applications for plant watering and smart homes (image by Sèrgi Mi)

Your device can be either integrated with other parts of the hardware or be a separate device. The second option is called the gateway architecture and it might be more cost-efficient since you can only place one gateway for an area that will collect data from all sensors and send it to the storage.

How to Choose the Right IoT Connectivity Option?

When developing a platform for the IoT, you need to enable data exchange between many layers and parts of the structure, so, “things”, gateways, sensors, servers, end-user solutions, etc.

This communication is possible because of the so-called IoT protocols which can be considered as the language that machines use for data transmission.

IoT software solutions can be connected with cloud platforms and IoT devices with various protocols (*image by [Ramotion](https://dribbble.com/Ramotion){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

IoT software solutions can be connected with cloud platforms and IoT devices with various protocols (image by Ramotion)

There are quite a few of them, so when choosing one protocol for your IoT solution, there’s a number of factors that should be taken into account. For instance, bandwidth, connectivity range, power consumption, price, industry, and many others.

For you to better understand what all these protocols are about, we’ve decided to make a table with the main characteristics of each protocol:

Protocol

Description

Wi-Fi

10- to 100-meter connectivity range, affordable & widely-used.
However, its efficiency depends on how far from a signal source the device is located

Bluetooth

There are options with 1, 10, and 100 meters of connectivity range, high data exchange speed & decent security level, low costs

LPWAN

A large range of up to 40 kilometers (or even more), data transferring speed, and energy consumption are low, widely used in agriculture, urban development, transporting, etc.

Ethernet

Controls the transferring of data via the Local Area Network (LAN), must be physically connected to the devices by using cables; high speed of data down- & uploading

RFID

Consists of readers, tags, and application, is enabled by attaching tags to objects, don’t require line-of-site so many signals can be read remotely from different places

Cellular

The widest bandwidth among all protocols, high energy consumption, may not be a good option for remote use of battery-powered networks

ZigBee & Other Mesh Protocols

Low current and intermediate power consumption, 100-meter connectivity range.
Simple in use, resistant to unauthorized readings and data exchange errors, scalable, with a big number of nodes possible to place

MQTT

For battery-powered devices, low energy consumption, easy-to-use, operation over wireless networks, minimum bandwidth use

DDS

Designed for real-time M2M communication, scalable & fast data exchange.
It’s not that popular among IoT solutions but still used in industrial IoT such as transports, robotics, etc.

XMPP

Best for consumer-oriented IoT, scalable.
However, it doesn’t offer Quality of Service or end-to-end encryption (E2EE), which worsens the security

AMQP

Great for queuing, message orientation, routing ( point-to-point as well as publish-and-subscribe), a decent level of security, robust communication model.
NOT recommended to use for sensor devices with limited memory & power/network bandwidth

LwM2M

Designed for resource-constrained devices specifically, great for device management and telemetry

🕳️ Potential Pitfalls & How to Avoid Them

When developing an application for your IoT device, it might be useful to know about possible nuances that can negatively impact your costs, the quality of the user-experience or the development speed if approached incorrectly.

So, let’s briefly review the main pitfalls that can await you during development.

# 1: Firmware

As we have already discussed, firmware enables the communication between different parts of your hardware.

What’s important here is that the development speed directly depends on whether or not your firmware is ready-to-use.

An Internet of Things (IoT) app needs to communicate with other connected Internet of Things parts (*image by [Simona Vorlova](https://dribbble.com/SimonaVorlova){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

An Internet of Things (IoT) app needs to communicate with other connected Internet of Things parts (image by Simona Vorlova)

In case it is ready, the only thing at this stage of the development that can slow down the process is bugs that can normally be solved fairly quickly.

However, If the firmware is at the early stages of the development, the process can become markedly slower because it might be complicated to control the Internet of Things development processes (application and firmware), test them, fix bugs, etc. all at the same time.

So, we highly recommend you to consider looking for devices with already developed and tested firmware before you start the Internet of Things software development.

# 2: Security

One of the major problems of the IoT industry is security since there are not enough standards that developers/engineers would have to follow to make the system 100% reliable, which means that they have to find their own ways to do it.

Internet of Things (IoT) app or software needs to be secure which is quite complicated since the IoT industry isn’t standardized (*image by [Xiaoming Phan](https://dribbble.com/PanXiaoMing){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

Internet of Things (IoT) app or software needs to be secure which is quite complicated since the IoT industry isn’t standardized (image by Xiaoming Phan)

Besides, the number of devices such as sensors is high in most IoT solutions which makes them more vulnerable and easier for hackers to spot a breach in.

To increase security, think about doing the following:

  • “Security by design”. It’s a system that allows to prevent rather than fix any breaches in a security system with the help of regular testing, authentication safeguards, and the best cybersecurity practices.
  • Regular updates. Through trial and error, you can figure out the best ways to make the device as secure as possible, so we recommend making updates as soon as you have something to improve in your security system.
  • Use reliable certificates such as SSL/TLS for encryption and authentication.
  • Multi-factor authentication. It can include biometric authentication (fingerprinting, face and voice scanning, etc.), end-to-end encryption (full encryption which implies that only the sender and the recipient can read whatever it is), personal questions, email/phone number confirmation, complex password that’s changed every once in a while, etc.

# 3: Inconsistency

If your app is intended to allow users to control several devices within one app, you might face the problem of your app being inconsistent with certain devices from other brands.

For example, if a user buys your smart toaster but then opts for a fridge from another company, you can’t guarantee that they’ll be able to control both of these devices in your app which can damage your services’ quality and reputation.

During IoT app development, take the fact that your mobile app should be consistent with IoT devices (*image by [Michał Rome](https://dribbble.com/Romee){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

During IoT app development, take the fact that your mobile app should be consistent with IoT devices (image by Michał Rome)

All of that is because the standardization isn’t unified, all companies use different APIs, protocols, and security features.

The most tricky part is that you can’t really do anything about it; a possible solution might be to allow integrating third-party services through their APIs, but that will depend on your specific use case.

# 4: Recovery Mode

It might be a good idea to add a so-called “recovery mode” into your IoT application in case users need to restore lost data from a cloud or another storage.

You can build in a recovery mode into apps for the Internet of Things (*image by [Patryk Polak](https://dribbble.com/patrykpolak){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

You can build in a recovery mode into apps for the Internet of Things (image by Patryk Polak)

This feature is something that should be implemented before developing an app since to implement it you need to allow access to the device's bootloader which is a lot easier to do when manufacturing the “thing” itself.

# 5: Quality Assurance

Each & every update of the IoT firmware should be then tested how it affects the application to fix new bugs, test the app’s behavior, see if a cloud or another storage are synchronized well enough with the systems, etc.

However, the most important part to keep in mind here is that such quality tests can’t be performed well enough as simulations meaning that your development team might need to run them manually or with real devices (if possible) so that your services are as “seamless” as possible.

☁️ Platforms to Use for IoT Development

So that the IoT development is a little easier, there are various platforms on the market that you can use: ready-to-use sets of features and tools. Their functionalities cover various needs such as connectivity, data flow, app functionality, etc.

You can build IoT applications by using a platform (it can be cloud-based as well) (*image by [Quan](https://dribbble.com/quanht){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

You can build IoT applications by using a platform (it can be cloud-based as well) (image by Quan)

Let’s take a closer look at what services an IoT platform can provide:

  • Hardware connection, e. g. between a “thing” & sensors.
  • Implementing and managing protocols.
  • Adding authentication and security features.
  • Analyzing, gathering and providing infographics of the data from “things.”
  • Connecting current systems with different parts of the hardware.

To navigate you through the market of IoT platforms, we’ve decided to make a list of the most widely-used & trustworthy platform providers with a variety of services. Here you go:

In fact, there’s no specific case when we could tell you that you should most likely use an IoT platform or a specific type of it (like a cloud-based one) since it really depends on your personal preference.

Thus, by using such a platform, you can speed up the development process and reduce the up-front costs. However, in the long run, it might be less beneficial since the fees are usually subscription- or use-based which means they can increase in the future.

⚙️ Top Functionality of an IoT Software

In this section, we’ll review the main components of IoT software ( which can be developed as a mobile app, website, dashboard, etc.) services that a user might need.

However, we’d like to draw your attention not to the feature itself but to certain nuances and not-so-obvious aspects that there may be.

# 1: Data Collection 📥

The backend of your software is responsible for data collection and, in fact, there are multiple ways of how you can organize it, which can save you energy, resources, and money if chosen correctly.

It’s important to build a well-functioning data collection system during your IoT app development (*image by [Kate R.](https://dribbble.com/Kradkov){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

It’s important to build a well-functioning data collection system during your IoT app development (image by Kate R.)

So, your data collection strategy can depend and be based on the following factors:

  1. Frequency & Accuracy. Basically, this way, you correlate the desired accuracy of the data with the frequency of collection needed to reach it. It can happen that a certain level of accuracy will be sufficient and thus a higher level will not be providing any additional value. So, you will be able to reduce the measurement frequency which will save you resources used for data collection while still allowing option accuracy level.
  2. Time. In case there’s a specific period of time after which the data won’t be considered fresh and relevant anymore, you can set a “maximum time gap” between the last and the next measurement. This way, your data collection will be performed with an interval fully tailored to your use case.
  3. Energy. In fact, this one is similar to the frequency example. However, here the key factor is energy consumption, meaning that a certain accuracy & amount of data is sufficient and the energy consumption can be minimized to as little as it’s enough to reach the goal.
  4. Privacy. If you need to only measure a certain amount of data without going any deeper even by accident, you can add the so-called “noise” to the measurement process. It’ll interfere with the process once the needed level of data accuracy is reached, allowing you to still be compliant with all the necessary regulations & respect privacy.

# 2: Data Processing 🔄

Data processing is quite demanding in terms of resources, meaning that you should be attentive when deciding what to process and what not to process.

Dashboard & mobile apps for the Internet of Things should be able to give user data in real-time (*image by [Nadya Lazurenko](https://dribbble.com/NadyaLazurenko){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

Dashboard & mobile apps for the Internet of Things should be able to give user data in real-time (image by Nadya Lazurenko)

First and foremost, you should pay attention to how much data you need to analyze to keep your system functioning. After that, try to limit it to this amount of data so the process is cost-, energy-, and time-efficient. Besides, you’ll need additional tools for handling the data which will of course create additional costs.

If you use third-party processing solutions, make sure to properly look into their statistics and your service agreement (which is often neglected). Something you might want to look for is how often the system is exposed to breaches, what the terms of changing the vendor are, etc.

Additionally, it might be a good idea to allow real-time data processing since it can be essential for industries such as agriculture, healthcare, weather forecasting, or even smart door locks.

# 3: Data Storage 📚

Normally, IoT devices don’t have much storage which makes it essential for most use cases to use external storage.

IoT application can store data on a cloud-based platform or another storage (*image by [Hannah White](https://dribbble.com/hannahwhite){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

IoT application can store data on a cloud-based platform or another storage (image by Hannah White)

So, when picking storage, you should pay attention to its ability to quickly retrieve the data for any needs. Besides, it might be a good idea to use one that allows searching data by timestamps and other filters so you can easily find what you need.

Furthermore, it may be smart to make the data exportable and moveable to various formats to see the different highlights for comparison & analysis.

# 4: Data Engineering 📊

Data analytics is a crucial activity that IoT solutions perform to be able to function & provide value for end-users. Its core function is to separate the chunks of data that come in every day while “things” are functioning and extract the necessary information from it so it can be transferred to a user.

Basically, this process has to be gone through before actually visualizing it for customers so that instead of having to look at raw data they’ll be able to look at something valuable to track dynamics, have clear conclusions, and make data-driven decisions.

You can develop an IoT technology that enables analytical services (*image by [Ariuka](https://dribbble.com/Ariuka_dsgn){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

You can develop an IoT technology that enables analytical services (image by Ariuka)

It’s essential to offer real-time data analysis so users can take immediate action when needed (depending on each specific use case). Additionally, data analytics can:

  • Be performed over a given period of time so users can observe the general tendency and trends.
  • Offer conclusions and steps needed to be taken based on the analysis.
  • Help make marketing campaigns more personalized and targeted, etc.

# 5: Data Visualization 📈

To present the analyzed data to end-users, you’ll need certain tools for visualization. Most often, this function implies:

  • The visualization itself (Real-time table, sensor overview, charts & tables, etc.).
  • History so users can access previous data visuals.
  • Notifications to make sure that users know when something new comes up.
  • Alerts — something that requires immediate attention and/or action.
Example of a dashboard to take into account to develop IoT apps (*image by [Anton Mikhaltsov 👨🏻‍🎨](https://dribbble.com/mikhaltsov23){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

Example of a dashboard to take into account to develop IoT apps (image by Anton Mikhaltsov 👨🏻‍🎨)

We’d like to pay special attention to alerts. Here, it’s of high importance to develop the habit of instantly paying attention to urgent situations and reacting accordingly; you can definitely help your users with that.

Think about adding special sound effects when alerts come up or marking them with a flashy icon so they stand out among all the other ones.

Also, it might be a good idea to categorize the visualized data. To be more specific, don’t offer too many graphs that represent the same data with different variables. Instead, consider making it manageable for users to choose what variable is presented for them.

Take smart sprinkles as an example. Instead of showing humidity on each field with a separate chart, add a tab where users can choose what field they want to be presented.

# 6: Device Management 💻

You’ll most likely need to add different features for users to control the “thing” along with its components. That may include:

  • Provisioning (adding a device to the system) and Authentication.
  • Configuration and Control (turn on/off, change modes, etc.). It’s important to take even more control of the device’s components (like frequency of data measurements, data transferring to the cloud, etc.).
  • Monitoring and Diagnostics. This feature is intended to display all processes, warn if something is off, and regularly diagnose to see if there are any breakdowns.
  • Software Maintenance and Updates. This can help you & your users fix everything remotely (if possible).
IoT mobile devices can be controlled with IoT apps or other solutions (*image by [7ahang](https://dribbble.com/7ahang){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

IoT mobile devices can be controlled with IoT apps or other solutions (image by 7ahang)

Additionally, you can implement a feature for grouping parts of the device like sensors. It might be a good idea to add a hierarchy of groups. For instance, sensors are located in one device, and devices are grouped as a fleet.

Also, think about adding an extended searching feature to your device management functionality. It can include searching by:

  • Device ID.
  • Device state (on/off, working/broken, etc.).
  • Device type (if you have several) & others.

This searching feature is more suitable for broader “things,” e.g., for hospitals, however, it’s applicable to devices of any type & scale. It all depends on your use case.

🤖 How to Integrate an IoT with Third-Party Devices like Google Home & Alexa?

When such virtual AI (artificial intelligence) assistants entered the market, it became truly disrupted. Nevertheless, the good news is that you can integrate your IoT device with them to provide additional value to your users.

Example of artificial intelligence assistant systems to integrate with mobile devices or other solutions (*image by [Patricia Reiners](https://dribbble.com/Patriciareiners){ rel="nofollow" target="_blank" .default-md}*)

Example of artificial intelligence assistant systems to integrate with mobile devices or other solutions (image by Patricia Reiners)

Naturally, each assistant’s developer and provider that makes their device integrable offers an API just for this purpose. Any voice-controlled command is enabled by “skills” and “action” in Amazon Alexa and Google Home respectively. These commands need to be implemented into a server which will then “perform” them as it’s required for integration.

For Google Home, you can use any server but Alexa’s “skills” must be executed on the AWS Lambda server.

After this step is done, you’ll need to ensure security & privacy policy compliance, which is also partially dictated by providers. For “skills” and “actions” to actually work, you and/or your development team need to send them to providers for approval. The process might take up to a week.

Surely, there are many ready-to-use commands that are already available, so it might be a good idea to educate yourself on them. In case you find that everything you need is already there, you’ll be able to skip this step.

👨‍💻 Our Expertise: Platoon Fit & Vaping Devices

Once we at Stormotion worked with Platoon Fit — a fitness project from Alex Obe that offers its customers 45-minute workouts with a special emphasis on health monitoring devices. What we did for them was data transactions integration from cadence and heart rate sensors that customers place on their body into the workout application. If you’d like to learn more about this case, feel free to follow the link at the bottom of this section.

What they needed us to do was to develop an app that will count the number of inhales, state of charge, amount of filler left, etc., which is a great example of how small devices can use data analytics for a better user experience.

Shots from the Platoon Fit application

Shots from the Platoon Fit application

Additionally, we’ve developed an application for a vaping device. This company made the so-called White-Label product, meaning that they’re not the actual manufacturers. They buy mainboards for the device and tailor them to their use case with several protocols.

What we did for them was integration of data transactions from cadence and heart rate sensors that customers place on their body into the workout application. If you’d like to learn more about this case, feel free to follow the link below.

Read Also

Platoon Fit Case Study

💰 What Affects IoT Application Development Costs?

When planning out your IoT application development costs, it’s important to make sure that your budget is big enough, but while the exact numbers can’t be predicted since each case is unique, there are a couple of features that you and your development team might consider during your calculations.

That includes:

  1. Number & complexity of features.
  2. Scope of the device.
  3. Chosen technology.
  4. Costs of third-party services (if needed).
  5. Your developers’ hourly rate.

Generally, development costs might range from $22,000 to $70,000:

IoT Software Features Estimated in Hours
Using React Native

⚙️ Feature

⏳ Min Hours

⏱ Max Hours

📲 Implementing BLE-Connection with Device

120

180

📚 Collection

24

60

🔄 Processing

48

64

💼 Storing

32

40

⚙️ Engineering

40

60

📊 Visualization

60

100

💻 IoT Multiple Device Management

20

60

⏱ Total Hours

344

564

💵 Approximate costs

$22,000

$70,000

💡 Takeaways

As you can see, the process of IoT software development has quite a few pitfalls, needs to be thought out well in advance, and requires much technical knowledge.

However, the game is worth the candle since the market is relatively new, and most new “things” thrill the industry, allowing you to gain greater profits.

Keep in mind, your specific use case defines many things during the development. Surely, we can give you general advice and prevent you from making certain mistakes based on our experience. Eventually though, your preferences & needs will be the decisive factor in many cases.

If you need any help with the development or have any questions left, feel free to reach out to us. We’ll find a way to help you!

Contact us to build Custom IoT Software!

Read also

How to Develop a Drone Control Application?

How to Develop a Drone Control Application?

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IoT in Logistics & Transportation

How to Choose the Right Tech-Partner for Custom SaaS Development

How to Choose the Right Tech Partner for Custom SaaS Development

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