The Internet of Things (IoT) is a computing network of physical devices equipped with technologies to communicate with each other or the external environment. The modules of this network can be small sensors and actuators, as well as composite systems such as smart homes. According to Statista, the number of connected IoT devices will reach 12.3 billion in 2022, which continues to grow.
A key feature of IoT is data collection and exchange between the devices themselves and some centralized services. Somebody can use this data to monitor, control, and optimize everyday life and business aspects. For example, smart sensors can collect information about temperature, humidity, lighting, and other parameters in real time and then transmit this information to a central system that analyzes the data and makes appropriate decisions.
IoT has a wide range of applications:
- Smart Spaces. IoT devices can control lighting, temperature, security, and other aspects of the home. In the smart city concept, IoT manages transportation infrastructure, improves public safety, and optimizes energy consumption and urban life.
- Healthcare. In the medical field, IoT is used to monitor patients' vital signs using specialized equipment and wearable trackers, manage medical devices, and develop new methods of diagnosis and treatment.
- Industry and agriculture. IoT helps automate manufacturing processes, improve efficiency and safety, predict potential breakdowns, and reduce costs. IoT helps monitor soil, plants, and livestock in agriculture to increase yields and reduce costs.
- Transportation and logistics. IoT devices track the location and condition of vehicles, optimize logistics and improve road safety, and move goods and postal items indoors.
Let's look at a few examples of projects that utilize IoT technologies.
Examples of IoT projects
Below we have provided some inspiring examples of projects in IoT of varying degrees of extravagance.
The smart home is the most famous example of a low entry threshold. Sensors collect data and transmit it to some control panel to provide efficient house control. Goals can range from saving energy to automating routine tasks such as adjusting the heating based on temperature. A smart home system can display the family calendar, to-do list, weather conditions, and even transportation status on the panel – handy for a sneak peek before going out in town. You can use mini-PCs or miniature boards like Raspberry Pi, just a phone or tablet with a suitable dashboard program to control such a system.
Sound Detector. If you have pets, such as dogs, and you are concerned that they are sad when you leave the house, you can create a system that will reassure the animal by triggering a specific recording when the dog starts whining, howling, or moving around the room too quickly.
An office or houseplant care system. This project involves a system that monitors office conditions, including lighting, temperature, and humidity, and controls the watering and lighting of plants to create a comfortable and healthy work environment. Soil moisture sensors will detect when plants need to be watered and send an alert or start the auto irrigation system.
AI-powered smart pet door. One of the popular combinations in the IoT world is the combination of artificial intelligence, some sensors to gather information, and mechanisms to control the situation. A famous example is the automatic opening of a door when the owner's cat appears in front of a camera, filming the space in front of the door.
These are just a few examples. You can explore resources such as Instructables and other sites dedicated to IoT and DIY technologies for inspiration for additional projects.
IoT devices that can be interacted with using NoCode systems
You already have IoT devices, but you may not know it: for example, one of the most common IoT devices is the smartphone. They are usually divided into consumer and industrial:
- Consumer IoT devices are smartphones, smart watches, trackers, wearable devices, intelligent assistant speakers, and home appliances. Such are designed to be used in everyday life, making it more convenient and comfortable.
- Industrial IoT devices are focused on one business use or another: manufacturing, medicine, agriculture, automotive and logistics, lighting, and parking systems.
In the Internet of Things (IoT), several vital standards play an essential role in ensuring device interoperability and security:
- Zigbee is a standard for low-energy mesh networking (devices form a peer-to-peer network) used by companies like IKEA and Bosch.
- Z-Wave is a Zigbee-like standard that has gained much popularity in the US.
- Wi-Fi + cloud services – although Wi-Fi is not specific to IoT, it is widely used in this area.
Popular IoT Devices:
- Smart outlets control appliances based on scenarios, for example, depending on the geo-position of the phone.
- Home appliances: robot vacuum cleaners, refrigerators with inventory monitoring, access control systems, humidifiers and air purifiers, and coffee machines.
- Temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide sensors, and thermostats for heating savings and climate control.
- Light sensor for street lighting after sunset.
- Motion sensors to control lighting or security cameras.
- Door closing sensors, smoke detectors, and security systems for added safety.
Also, consider using conventional smartphones to control the system with voice commands or to trigger commands via an external trigger message.
The potential of using the NoCode approach in the IoT
NoCode and LowCode technologies provide an opportunity to accelerate the development and deployment of IoT projects, reducing dependence on professional developers and programmers:
- Building applications and systems faster and easier. NoCode and LowCode platforms allow even people without deep technical experience to create IoT applications and systems. They provide graphical interfaces and tools to build applications by dragging, dropping, and customizing components. Instead of writing code from scratch, developers can use off-the-shelf components and templates, which reduces development and maintenance costs.
- Integration with external systems. NoCode and LowCode platforms typically provide tools for integration with other systems and services. This makes linking IoT devices with cloud services, databases, and management systems easy.
- Enhanced data management. With these technologies, you can create dashboards and interfaces to monitor and manage data collected from IoT devices.
- Prototype and MVP development. NoCode and LowCode enable rapid prototyping and minimum viable products (MVPs) to quickly assess the potential of an IoT project idea and attract investors or customers. With rapidly evolving AI solutions, LowCode and NoCode look like excellent foundations for software solutions, while IoT looks like a foundation for hardware solutions.
- Risk mitigation. With visual development tools and pre-testing, you can mitigate the risks associated with developing IoT solutions and make quick project changes when you reuse IoT modules for new tasks.
However, it is worth noting that NoCode and LowCode technologies can have their limitations, especially in the case of complex and specific IoT projects. In such cases, deeper programming and customization may be required, and NoCode/LowCode platforms may need more flexibility.
Overview of popular NoCode platforms for IoT
NoCode platforms provide the user with the ability to create automation chains. The platforms offer templates for collecting and processing data flow, monitoring events, and sending notifications at specific triggers. However, the systems target different user groups and are designed for different usage niches.
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a web service that allows users to create chains of conditional statements called "applets". These applets automatically execute tasks based on specified conditions. The IFTTT library has many out-of-the-box solutions for integrating IoT devices (smart lights, thermostats, security cameras) and web services (social networks, email services). For example, you can set up an applet in your home to automatically turn on intelligent bulbs when the sun goes down. IFTTT is aimed at a broad audience and allows you to create chains without programming knowledge.
Node-RED is a Low-Code visual programming tool based on Node.js. It allows users to connect devices, APIs, and online services using streaming. Node-RED is widely used in industrial and hobby IoT projects to create complex workflows. It enables various devices and services to integrate, providing more profound control and customization capabilities than IFTTT. Node-RED is aimed at those with programming experience or willingness to learn. It is a more professional-grade platform that allows you to create more complex and customizable automation. You can read more about Node-RED in the article Node-RED for App Development.
ThingsBoard is a specialized Open-source IoT platform for data collection, processing, visualization, and device management for the Internet of Things. Unlike IFTTT and Node-RED, this platform is designed for IoT tasks only. ThingsBoard supports various IoT protocols, including MQTT, CoAP, and HTTP, and offers built-in data analysis and visualization tools. This platform targets developers and enterprises looking for a scalable and extensible solution to manage and monitor a network of IoT devices.
Waylay is the Enterprise counterpart to the open source ThingsBoard solution with support for the LowCode paradigm and the ability to orchestrate workflow at the enterprise level. The platform also implements an abstraction layer on top of traditional IoT platforms, enabling the interconnection of cloud-based IoT solutions.
IoT-NoCode companion platforms
Developing and managing Internet of Things (IoT) systems is simplified through synergies between device manufacturers and NoCode/LowCode platforms. This approach makes it much easier for users with deep technical programming knowledge to create and configure intelligent systems, and often, NoCode platforms only try to cover some possible IoT devices but focus on a specific niche. This is how combinations of companion platforms emerge that are most convenient to use together.
Tibbo Project System and AppBlocks. Tibbo offers the Tibbo Project System (TPS), which consists of modular Tibbits. These Tibbits come in different types, including I/O modules, connectors, and hybrid devices that provide a wide range of functionality. They are designed to create personalized IoT solutions by allowing the integration of various components into a single system. Tibbo provides out-of-the-box applications and programming capabilities to customize these modules, simplifying the creation of complete IoT solutions. The AppBlocks companion platform is a NoCode platform for developing IoT applications running on TPS devices. It allows users to build IoT and automation solutions in the browser without writing code. AppBlocks uses a visual designer to define application logic and supports debugging directly in the browser.
Philips Hue and IFTTT. Philips Hue offers a wide range of intelligent lighting solutions. IFTTT, a platform that allows you to create simple automation (e.g., turn lights on when the sun goes down) without the need for programming, can be used to extend the capabilities of Philips Hue devices. IFTTT supports other devices as well.
Arduino and Node-RED. Arduino is widely recognized in DIY and education for its easy-to-use microcontrollers and IoT modules. Node-RED is a visual programming tool that makes connecting devices, APIs, and online services easy. Together, they provide powerful tools for creating custom IoT solutions. This combination proves to be incredibly flexible if you have the time to understand the features of both platforms – just as many different add-ons have been created for Arduino, Node-RED has many ready-made libraries to work with other systems, including Arduino.
Integrating IoT and NoCode democratizes the creation of intelligent systems and devices, allowing the system to be built from modules at both the software (NoCode) and hardware (IoT devices) levels. Users can experiment and realize ideas that would have been inaccessible to them due to technical barriers.
NoCode and LowCode platforms simplify the development of IoT solutions by enabling faster prototyping, integration of different devices and services, and data management. This opens up opportunities for technical experts and users who need programming experience.
Due to the specific need for electronics knowledge, the implementation of complex projects still requires the involvement of professional developers and engineers. However, as AI and machine learning technologies integrated into such platforms evolve, the barriers to creating IoT solutions will decrease.