Monday 25 January 2021

Internet of Things (IoT): What is IoT, Technology & Benefits

What is IoT?

Over the past few years, you may have heard of the latest buzzword ‘IoT’ or “Internet of Things”. It seems to have started as a whisper but now there is a lot of noise about it. But what is IoT? And what makes it so special? Read on to know about the Internet of Things.

What is Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things or IoT is the process of connecting everyday objects to the internet as a way to control them. It is a simple concept, wherein software, sensors, and other such technologies are added into the hardware of the objects so that they connect to the internet as well as to other devices.  

How common is the use of IoT?

There is an extraordinary amount of objects that are a part of the IoT revolution. It is likely that there is something you currently use that is part of the IoT. One of the most popular wearable IoT is the fitness tracker smart band that tracks and measures people’s health. IoT is used in agricultural equipment connected to satellite systems that allow for ‘precision farming’. It also enables smart home security systems that connect to your smartphone allowing you to monitor your home efficiently from afar. Today, IoT is present in every sphere of technology and industry.

What is the history of the IoT?

The IoT may seem like a recent phenomenon so it may come as a surprise that the term ‘Internet of Things’ was coined in 1999 by technology pioneer, Kevin Ashton. The idea of connecting objects to the internet is not a new one and there were rumblings of it from the 1980s and perhaps, even earlier. The technology had not yet made it possible then. Computer chips were initially too big and too expensive. It took the availability of low-cost and low-power chips along with the wide availability of wireless and cellular networking and broadband internet to make IoT more than just a pipe dream. 

How big is it?

IoT is a hidden revolution taking over the world. As of 2020, there were over 50 billion IoT devices. Those devices were estimated to generate 4.4 zettabytes of data. For the uninitiated, a zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes. That is a staggering amount of data. And while IoT has its biggest implications in industry, there has been an increasing adoption of IoT on a personal front with wearable devices and smart home technologies. Experts state that utilities will be the highest user of IoT because of smart meters. And security devices will be the second-biggest user of IOT. Automation is considered to be the fastest-growing sector using IoT, followed by automotive, and healthcare.

What is the Industrial Internet of Things?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the implementation of IoT technology in industrial settings. It is also called the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 because of the way IoT has revolutionised industry. Here, a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, and wireless networks are used to transform and optimise industrial processes. The keyword for IIoT is machine to machine communication (M2M). The idea is to reduce the need for human intervention and human error as much as possible so that automation could be achieved at the highest level. 

What benefits does IOT offer for business?

The use of IoT in business can be broadly categorised into two groups—industry-specific products and cross-industry IoT (products that can be used by all industries). Here are some of the benefits that IoT has for business: 

  • Invaluable real-time, comprehensive data collection and analysis 
  • Heightened  responsiveness and efficiency of production systems and supply chain
  • Can help create new revenue streams and business models
  • Can provide data that help businesses analyse and understand their consumers better
  • Reduction of operating costs
  • Increased work safety 

What benefits does IoT offer for consumers?

IoT has made smart homes the latest buzzword. Google Home or Amazon’s Echo are examples of IoT at home. IoT allows consumers to unite a wide range of home appliances into one network, allowing them to communicate with each other. Today, IoT home automation helps keep older and disabled people independent by allowing them to manage their homes more efficiently and easily. 

World-famous Tesla cars can be considered a part of the IoT. Indeed, any connected car that connects to the internet and allows its owners to operate them remotely is a part of the IoT revolution.

Security, privacy, and IoT

Security, privacy, and the collection of sensitive data are the biggest concerns related to IoT. Too often, IoT devices do a poor job of encrypting the data they receive.  The prevalent use of IoTdevices with flaws in their software has left them vulnerable to hackers. Hackers have been able to track user location, listen to conversations as well as communicate with users via internet-connected smartwatches. The implications when it comes to the industry are even worse as security flaws leave businesses exposed to potential industrial espionage. Hackers could target industrial equipment and infrastructure with catastrophic results endangering both life and business. 

WiFi-enabled products are edging out ‘dumb’ products that do not connect to the internet. It is becoming increasingly difficult to purchase products that are not trackable. It does not occur to most people that the seemingly harmless device on or near them could be monitoring them closely. IoT products can give a shockingly detailed picture of user’s lives. Consumers and businesses must demand greater privacy and security protection so that their data, devices, and equipment aren’t at the mercy of hackers, data breaches, and corporate surveillance. Technical and security standardisation for IoT is a must.

The bottom line

For all its advancements, IoT is still in its nascent stages. But there is no doubt that innovation will bring IoT to the forefront of technological advancement. And it is exciting to see where it will take IoT in the future and the impact it will have on our lives.





Tuesday 12 January 2021

Flutter App: What is Flutter App for Desktop, IOS & Android


What is Flutter app?

The tech world has undergone a sea change in the past few years. Smartphones have enabled people to connect to the internet anytime and from anywhere, as long as there is a working internet connection. Consumers are flooded with mobile applications for any and everything. In recent years, app developers would have heard of something called a Flutter app. What is Flutter app? And why has it gotten so popular? Read this article to find out.

What is Flutter?

Flutter was introduced by Google in 2015 in its beta stage and then officially launched in 2018. It is a free open-source cross-platform software development kit (SDK) that developers can use to build both iOS and Android applications using the same code base. Flutter has a framework or User Interface (UI) library that houses a collection of reusable UI elements such as sliders, buttons, and so on, that can be personalised by developers. Over time, Flutter has gone from strength to strength and is considered to be among the top 11 software repositories as per Github stars. Flutter aims to allow developers to create high-quality and high-performance apps that work naturally and seamlessly across platforms, accepting changes wherever necessary while sharing the same code as much as possible. So a Flutter app is one that has been developed using the Flutter SDK.

Flutter app – An overview

Here is a broad overview of the features of Flutter apps:

  1. Technical architecture:
    One advantage of Flutter is that it offers developers everything they need for app development within the Flutter engine itself. It is designed as a multi-layered expandable system. There are a series of independent libraries that are dependent on the underlying layer. Every layer is independent as well and does not have access to other layers below it. Every part of the technical architecture has been built in a way to be replaceable and elective. The flutter engine is composed of the Skia C++ engine, which is a 2D graphics rendering library.

  2. Programming language:
    Flutter apps are made using a typed programming language called Dart, which was again created by Google in 2011. The focus of Fart is on front-end development and so developers use it to create web and mobile applications. Dart is compiled ahead of time (AOT) into the native code for different platforms which allow for a quick start-up time of the app. So a Flutter app will not have performance problems related to needing a JavaScript bridge. Moreover, Dart can also comply with just-in-time (JIT), which is extremely handy during the development phase of a flutter app. Dart uses an advanced garbage collection and allocation scheme that is very fast in allocating short-lived objects. This results in the flutter app having very smooth animation and scrolling.

  3. Development API and UI:
    Flutter has a reactive UI framework where the developer provides the mapping from the application state to the interface state. The framework then updates the interface during the runtime when the application state is changed. The flutter framework comes with device API access, UI rendering components, stateful management, testing, and many libraries. As Flutter is bundled with this rich set of components, it removes the need for third-party libraries. In a Flutter app, widgets act as the building blocks of the app’s UI and are an entrenched part of the UI. Widgets have a hierarchy that is based on composition. So, a widget will nest inside its parent and receive context from the parent.  When there is an event (for example, user interaction), the app tells the framework to replace one widget in the hierarchy with another. The framework compares the old and new widgets and then updates the UI accordingly.

  4. Hot reload:
    Flutter has the advantage of a Hot Reload feature that allows developers to build UIs, experiment, and fix bugs easily and quickly. When developing a flutter app, this feature allows developers to view any changes made due to the addition of app features, bug fixes, or building of the user interface, without needing to refresh the app continuously.

  5. Community and testing support:
    Flutter has a robust and rapidly growing community and so, developers can confer with and support each other about building apps. Flutter also provides comprehensive testing support with plenty of features in order to test apps at all levels—widget, unit, as well as integration. Completely detailed documentation is provided in order to test the Flutter apps. Also, there is a testing feature of widget that developers can use by creating widget tests to evaluate the UI.

Benefits of Flutter

  1. Cost and time efficiency:
    Developers can use the same code for building both iOS and Android apps. This cross-platform development saves time and resources throughout the process of app development.

  2. Quick development and enhanced productivity:
    One reason why Flutter has gained traction is because of how easy it is to make and view changes. Thanks to the Hot Reload feature, developers can change their code and view it instantly. This speeds up app development, thereby, enhancing productivity.

  3. Exceptional performance:
    Flutter’s Dart programming language compiles directly into native code. Moreover, Flutter uses its own widgets without the need for OEM widgets. These two factors help deliver an exceptional performance as they ensure quick start-up times and minimal performance issues.

  4. Compatibility:
    Since Flutter has its own widgets for app development there are fewer compatibility issues to contend with. So app developers don’t encounter problems over different OS versions, nor have to spend as much time testing an app on older OS versions.

  5. Open-source:
    Flutter has the advantage of being a free and open-source technology used by a vibrant community of developers who offer support, handy resources, and extensive documentation.

The bottom line

Today there are thousands of Flutter apps in app stores. The famous Alibaba group created a Flutter app called Xianyu with over 50 million users. The advantages Flutter brings to the table make it a formidable technology.  It is no wonder then that in a short space of a few years, Flutter has succeeded in becoming so popular with mobile app developers the world over.


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