IoT and Networking

By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer/Marketing

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been revolutionary in changing the way consumers interact with the technological devices in their lives. The amount of users with IoT devices in their homes, cars, and even on their bodies is also growing at an increasing rate. It is clear that IoT technology is heavily integrated into the lives of many consumers. That being said, there has been a lot of media coverage regarding the security of these devices.

Security in modern technological devices is a critical feature and a very big concern for consumers due to the threat of being hacked. Properly encrypting IoT devices is very important because very personal information can be accessed through IoT devices. In addition to simply losing personal information, the physical safety of consumers is at risk. An example of this can be found in the 2014 Jeep incident. Hackers were able to infiltrate a Jeep Cherokee via the internet in order to send commands to the car’s entertainment system, brakes, steering, and even the transmission. Despite the fact that this happened a couple of years ago, the technology is still under the same risk of being hacked. Even the FBI has intervened and has begun to warn any car makers and owners that vehicles with high levels of internet access have an increased risk of being hacked. 

These security issues aren’t just affecting cars; these problems can be observed in a variety of other Internet-enabled devices. Another example is how connected baby monitors and other home monitoring devices are being tapped into by hackers, allowing them to see if anyone is home. Essentially any IoT device can be breached and used in an unintended way if proper security measures aren’t taken. When valuable data is at risk, security should be a bigger concern for manufacturers. The current and common culture among IoT companies is to release devices to this public with minimum protective measures in order to be the first to the market. Not all companies are a part of this culture, but a large portion of them contribute to these security issues. It’s not an issue of developers being unfamiliar with the intricacy of this high-end technology, it’s an issue of not taking the extra time to implement adequate security measures.

It is clear that having impeccable security features will benefit the consumer and the manufacturer in the long run. The invasive nature of IoT technology leaves the user very vulnerable to breaches in safety and security. The manufacturers should be responsible for monitoring the activity of their devices and determining how to block suspicious activity once the product is released. However, if security systems were developed in entirety before a device is released, these extra measures wouldn’t be as necessary. As IoT technology continues to become a bigger part of the lives of the consumers, it will be vital to our safety that a higher standard of security is implemented.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is continuing to grow at a rapid pace as more devices are becoming connected. However, the IoT is rendered useless without a system of networking to support it. As WiFi-enabled devices increase in popularity, the demand for networking will expand substantially. IoT-based technology is disrupting the current networking market due to vast amount of data that is collected and the quantity of devices connected to the Internet. Companies will be expected to have extremely efficient networks that will allow for real time analysis. In addition to this, simply having faster internet speeds and creating more access points is essential in supporting the rise of IoT devices.

One of the developing applications of IoT devices is found within the smart home. Some smart technology devices require extremely fast networks. When using multiple devices, it is critical to have a network that will enable the connectivity of all devices. The IoT enabled ConnectSense sensors and Smart Outlet rely on networking to enable machine-to-machine communication. Your ConnectSense products collect data through this communication in order to provide you with accurate and efficient analysis. Improving the ConnectSense cloud is one of the ways Grid Connect is able to help you adapt to the implementation of IoT devices in your home. Having a network that can sustain the connection of multiple devices is very important. Additional actions that can be taken in order to create a more efficient network are constructing quicker router speeds, ensuring that the WiFi is able to be accessed everywhere in the home, and creating an in-home network that can sustain multiple connections.

A strong network is essential for the use of various IoT products, whether it’s a smart home device, a piece of wearable technology, or even if it’s for an industrial application. Gateways, routers, and other networking devices can help improve networking abilities in order to support the demanding nature of connected and data driven devices. Finding a perfect network configuration will compensate for whatever quantity of data your IoT devices are bringing in.

It is clear that the impact the IoT is having on networking is only going to expand as the demand for a more connected and efficient world continues to increase. Having quality control of networks will allow for an improved customer experience.  Creating networks that can handle a great deal of traffic and data will allow you to be prepared for the IoT’s disruption of the networking market.

How to Use Scenes in Apple HomeKit

The ability to create scenes is one of Apple HomeKit’s most powerful features. When you are getting started with HomeKit, setting up scenes is going to be one of the first things you do. Scenes are a great way to control the state of one device, or even multiple devices, all at once.

After you set up a scene, you can then control it using Siri voice commands. There are four built-in scenes, but you also have the ability to create custom Scenes within HomeKit. The four default scenes within iOS 9 are “Good Morning,” “Good Night,” “I’m Home,” and “I’m Leaving.”

Let’s walk through setting up the “Good Morning” scene as an example. If you want a cup of coffee in the morning, you can select your coffee pot, and turn it on. If you want your house a little bit warmer in the morning, you can select the thermostat and set the temperature to something like 70 degrees. In order to finalize the changes you made, click the “Save” button in the top right corner of the screen. This scene can be activated by clicking on the “Scenes” menu in the ConnectSense app by clicking the “Activate” button.

Another way to activate the scene can be through Siri voice control by saying “Good morning Siri.” Siri would then proceed to activate the scene and begin adjusting the thermostat and turn on the coffee maker.

Now that you know how to set up scenes in HomeKit, what do you want to automate using scenes? Comment below!

Scenes are one of the most powerful features of Apple HomeKit... but how do you use them? In this episode, Adam Justice of ConnectSense shows you how to set up scenes in your home using the ConnectSense app and then activating them using the touch of a finger or Siri voice control.

IoT Design Considerations: Security

Building a secure IoT-enabled device comes at a cost. As the IoT continues to grow, there is an increasing focus on its security and how safe the claims of end-to-end solutions really are. While security threats in the news have scared away some manufacturers and consumers from entering the IoT space, others view it as an opportunity for added value to their products. Implementing high-cost security into every product a company has is ideal, however not very economical. Manufacturers must find proper security for each of their IoT solutions while keeping costs low.

This process must start at the time of a product’s conception. Proper due-diligence is required from each manufacturer to find a way to secure their devices, protect their consumer and ultimately, the rest of the IoT world as well.

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

IoT Design Considerations: Interoperability

As more manufacturers enable their products for the IoT, consumers will be introduced to many different cloud applications due to lack of cooperation between difference devices and companies. This is where the emerging IoT standards can help. Device manufacturers who support these standards will be able to ensure their products will be able to work and communicate with other manufacturers’ products that support the same protocols. This makes operating many IoT-enabled devices together much more simple and convenient. This also opens up new business opportunities by allowing for new features that the original manufacturers never dreamed of. For example, interoperability means that one day it might be possible for a consumer to simply say, “good night, house” to their home automation app, and the app will programmatically turn-off all of the main house lights, TV’s and appliances and turn on the outside lighting, set the alarm clock for the morning and set the coffee pot to start brewing when the sun rises. In this example, each device could be from a different manufacturer, but since they all support the same standard, the application knows how to talk to them all and create new service offerings.

Some of the emerging interoperability standards include: Thread (supported by the likes of Google/Nest, Samsung and more), HomeKit (supported by Apple), AllJoyn (supported by Microsoft and Sony, part of the AllSeen Alliance), IETF (an internet standards body) and ETSI (a European-based standards organization – primarily in Telecom). The standards landscape is changing rapidly and manufacturers need to adapt their products to work with these standards as they are consolidated and settled in the future.

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

IoT Design Considerations: Cloud

By definition, most IoT applications include some Cloud-based component. Many manufacturers entering the IoT space are new to Cloud development, which makes decision-making for Cloud applications, such as how and when a product will connect to the Cloud, difficult.

“How” an IoT-enabled device communicates with a Cloud application, refers to what protocol is being used. Many early IoT implementations followed a proprietary protocol, where the device manufacturer implements its own standards for communication. Recently, companies have become aware that a standard protocol is needed for IoT communications to be successful. Some have started providing third party, end-to-end solutions with platforms to develop and host applications.

“When” an IoT device connects to the Cloud, refers to the frequency of data exchange with the application. Devices that are always on (connected to a power supply) can easily stay linked to the cloud. This improves the ability to be “near real time” when communicating with the Cloud application. Battery-powered devices often only connect to the internet and send data periodically in order to conserve battery life. In this case there is a delay, as the device has to re-establish its connection to the wireless router and then to the Cloud server. Battery-powered devices should also consider implementing a “heart-beat,” so that the device can connect to the Cloud periodically without an event to trigger it. This allows the application to know the device is still online and has power or battery-life remaining for when an event does occur..

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.