Though the data regarding connected devices is anything but cohesive, a broad overview of IoT stats affords a clear picture of how quickly our world is becoming a connected ecosystem: In 1984, approximately 1,000 devices were connected to the Internet; in 2015, Gartner predicted 4.9 billion connected things would be in use; and by 2020 analysts expect we’ll have somewhere between 26 and 50 billion connected devices globally. Said Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer at Cisco, “In 1984, there were 1,000 connected devices. That number rose up to reach a million devices in 1992 and reached a billion devices in 2008. Our estimates say… that we will have roughly 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020.”
Of course, we’re well past the days when ‘connected’ meant to your computer or mobile phone. Connected devices today include many household gadgets such as heating, lighting, and refrigerators, personal wearables including smart watches and clothing, and industrial equipment such as shipping pallets and automation gear. Innovators are already dreaming up the next big thing, and in the future, we can expect smart couches that keep you warm in winter, smart crockery that tracks what you’re eating, and smart toothbrushes helping fight gum disease. IoT is being implemented in the running of businesses and product manufacturing, as well as into new designs and concepts generated by these firms, and according to Vision Mobile, 91% of IoT developers are using open source technology in these IoT projects.
With data from 3,700 IoT developers across 150 counties, Vision Mobile found that eight out of ten IoT developers use open source whenever they can, and six out of ten contribute to open source projects. The cost (free) of these open source tools tends to be the leading driver behind their use, but developers also point to open source tools providing the best support along with the best technology thanks to constant improvements and peer-to-peer support in the open source community. Open source technology is also considered a valuable method for improving skills and learning new technologies.
Oliver Pauzet, VP of Market Strategy at Sierra Wireless, additionally points out that “closed, proprietary systems can make interoperability difficult.” Inter-brand connection is thus another challenge open source technology addresses, enabling the devices of different developers to communicate. Pauzet points also to the necessity of creating and employing industry standards which will encourage interoperability for greater choice and flexibility. This would mean developers could use cross-brand devices in the development of specific solutions, promising greater innovation along with cost efficiency. Finding an open source license that is “business-friendly,” along with industrial-grade components released as an open standard is Pauzet’s tip for quickly taking IoT concepts from prototype to mass deployment. Says Pauzet, “The fact that so much of the integration, testing, and validation work is already done, they no longer have to invest big money when the time comes to expand on a global scale.”
Recently announced, Farnell element14 is calling their mangOH Green Open Hardware IoT Platform the first “all-in-one Hardware, Software and Cloud-based solution for Industrial IoT applications.” Allowing developers rapid testing and prototyping of ideas, IoT solutions can purportedly be taken to market within weeks, and the platform is compatible with other open source initiatives including Linear Technology Dust Networks and Texas Instruments ZigBee, NXP thread module, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module.
The range of developers making use of and creating open source tools and solutions is extensive; Postscapes Internet of Things Awards 2015/16 takes a look at some of the best IoT open source projects. Projects nominated include platforms for building IoT gateways as well as interaction with everyday objects, CNC farming machinery, tools for the generation of HTML and mobile apps for IoT, and more. Postscapes believes the open source movement is “championing openness, transparency, and the power of collaborative development”; the range of quality open source IoT projects is the proof.
By Jennifer Klostermann