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Internet of Things Takes Center Stage in App Development

Up 'til now it's been a supporting character in the ongoing "Hypes of Our Lives" drama starring Big Data, cloud computing and mobile-first, but a flurry of announcements this week confirms the Internet of Things (IoT) is striving for top billing.

The IoT was the feature attraction at this week's Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. In announcing new developer tools, the hardware giant highlighted "how the company is moving quickly to enable new market segments where everything is smart and connected."

Among those developer tools was the Analytics for Wearables program to boost the creation of wearable apps with data-driven intelligence, free of charge. It was part of the company's new direction, exemplified by how this year's conference "expanded beyond PCs, mobile and the datacenter to also include the IoT and wearables and other new devices." The conference even featured an "IoT mega session."

Intel's Doug Davis yesterday started out a related blog post by declaring, "There's no doubt about it: The IoT is influencing and changing the way the world works -- from new opportunities to collect and analyze Big Data in industrial settings to advances in autonomous vehicles and everything in between."

In that IoT mega session, Davis detailed 10 Intel architecture-based "unexpected IoT applications," including keeping tabs on endangered rhinoceros by fitting them with ankle bracelets. (I'm right now starting a rumor that Apple will announce a "rhino watch" in an upcoming, breathlessly awaited, mysterious and dramatic stage show. My sources say a rhino will trot out amid cool thunderous music to unveil it, wearing a black turtleneck.)

I didn't watch this week's "unveiling" of Apple's wearable, but dozens of headlines dutifully reported it will play a big role in the IoT, so expect a lot of developer news about building apps for it.

Dell partnered with Intel to make its own news this week by opening the Dell IoT Lab, partially funded by Intel. It will provide space for building, testing and modifying new IoT solutions. In the Dell announcement, Intel's Davis said, "The IoT will enable one of the most significant technological transformations in our lifetime." Sound familiar?

Embarcadero got in on the act with this week's announcement that "Developing Connected Apps for the IoT Just Got Easier with Appmethod." The updated Appmethod development tool "provides a complete software development solution for building natively compiled C++ apps that connect mobile and desktop devices, sensors, gadgets, wearables, cloud services and data."

Smaller companies also joined the party this week, such as Open Garden. The San Francisco startup on Monday announced a new Mobile Network for IoT devices. It will provide an API to access the network. "The Open Garden Network makes it easy for devices to seamlessly access other devices and the Internet via secure peer-to-peer connections," the company said. "Devices automatically detect nearby enabled smartphones or tablets via Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) and can pass data through them securely until the proper destination or recipient is reached."

Another startup, MachineShop, on Tuesday announced "next-generation IoT middleware."

"MachineShop emerged from stealth mode earlier this year to bring the power and simplicity of APIs and Web services to the realm of the IoT," the company announced. "Among the key enhancements to the MachineShop Connected Services Platform is the addition of nearly 100 new APIs for data ingestion, normalization and management."

And, to help developers make money with this new roadshow, Aria Systems got a jump on everybody last week by announcing an e-book about "Monetizing the IoT."

Forbes quickly hopped on that bandwagon yesterday with an article proclaiming "How Investors Can Profit from the IoT."

Every new flavor-of-the-week industry disruption needs an app store, of course, so on Tuesday came the news that "RacoWireless Enables Rapid IoT Deployments with Launch of IoT App Store."

"The Application Marketplace allows application developers to create new revenue streams by offering their value-added products and features to a growing community of solution and service providers," the company said.

You get the picture. If you're one of those underpaid developers who signed on to get a data science degree to make bank with Big Data, you'd better add an IoT minor. Of course, the IoT is closely related to the tech industry's current headliners -- Big Data, mobile computing and the cloud -- so jumping on the IoT bandwagon shouldn't pose too much trouble in transferring skills.

You also might want to bone up on your IP chops -- specifically IPv6. We've been warned for years that we're running out of IPv4 addresses, and this IoT boon isn't going to help any. "The public IPv4 address space managed by IANA has been completely depleted by Feb. 1, 2011," reads and IEEE position paper from last year. "This creates by itself an interesting challenge when adding new things and enabling new services on the Internet."

No kidding. Last month, an Internet slowdown was blamed on old IPv4 router settings, which could be a harbinger of problems to come once all those cupcake dispensers, toilets and beer kegs are connected to the 'Net (those were some of Intel's other unexpected IoT apps).

Anyway, just be thankful you're sitting at a desk typing for a living, instead of fitting wild rhinos for ankle bracelets.

Posted by David Ramel on 09/11/2014 at 10:48 AM


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