Six tips for becoming an Internet of Things Developers
The Internet of Things (IoT) industry is booming, and Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 20.8 billion IoT devices will be in use. As connected homes, cars, and offices become more mainstream, more Internet of Things Developers are needed to ensure that devices operate properly and securely.
The term “IoT developer” remains broad, said Greg Gorman, director of the Internet of Things Developers Ecosystem at IBM.“There a re a lot of discipline areas that are in play, including security, networking, systems engineering, cloud programming, and hardware device programming,” he said. “It pays to be multilingual so that you can be
flexible and play many different roles in the team.”
There are four stages in developing an IoT device, according to Kornilios Ampatzis, a software developer at InfoLearn:
• Assembly of the physical hardware: This requires engineering skills, and is usually not completed by a developer. Most IoT devices use primarily pre-assembled boards and sensors connected on them.
• Programming the device: This requires programming skills to read the data from the sensors connected on the IoT device and send them to the server.
• Programming the server that will receive and store the data from the device: This requires the use of server-side languages, like PHP, ASP.NET, or Node.js, and database queries based on MySQL or some other SQL derivative.
“Usually a developer is not responsible for all those stages,” Ampatzis said. “So in order to specify how to get started on a career in the field, first they have to decide which stage of the development process they want to get aboard.”
Here are six tips from IoT experts on how to break into a career developing connected devices.
1. Gain a deep understanding of sensors Unlike other developers, those who work in the IoT space must have a deep understanding of sensors and wireless communication, according to Karen Panetta, an IEEE fellow, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and associate dean for graduate education at Tufts University.
It’s recommended that IoT developers have a background in computer science or electrical engineering, Panetta said. However, IEEE and other professional organizations offer online courses on sensors and development in which you can make a project to show employers. And a number of inexpensive sensors and maker kits are available to practice skills on your own.
“Beyond computing, IoT will take you into the world of mechanical and civil engineering as sensors gather physics data,” said Bryan Kester, head of IoT at Autodesk. “It’s very difficult to be a ‘deep’ IoT technologist—you have to be naturally curious about the world and a Renaissance person at heart.”
2. Focus on user interface – Internet of Things Developers
When developing a commercial IoT product, it’s important to hold yourself to high quality standards for user experiences, said Kit Klein, head of engineering at Wink. “Many customers depend on these products for critical tasks in their daily lives and are understandably intolerant of failures,” Klein said. “As an industry, we need to ensure products delight a rapidly growing base of users who aren’t necessarily tech savvy.
Quality and reliability are paramount to this experience and need to be part of any developer’s mentality.” Panetta recommends performing usability studies with customers to determine ease of use. “It all comes back to user interface,” she said. “You can have the best control for your thermostat, but it needs to be simple to use.”
4. Play with a Raspberry Pi
For those without a computer science or electrical engineering degree, Elliot Schrock, founder and lead developer at Thryv, Inc., suggests demonstrating your aptitude to employers by completing projects on a Raspberry Pi.
“Raspberry Pis are very inexpensive, tiny computers and are often employed in proof of concept IoT projects,” Schrock said. “They’re also a great way to learn how to solder together simple circuits and link those circuits with software. Putting together some simple demo projects and then coming up with, and executing, some projects of your own is a great way to show that you have the initiative and know-how to work in IoT.”
Hinton agreed. “Using a device like the Tessel 2, or the Particle Photon, or even the humble Raspberry Pi can get developers fast on their way to learning how hardware ticks and the new skills required,” Hinton said. “Writing for IoT is really just learning how to write for smaller, slower computers.”
5. Find a community
Involvement in the surrounding communities of makers, inventors, and entrepreneurs with whom one can explore, develop, and refine their ideas into a reality is an important factor for becoming an IoT developer, said Emily Rose, lead developer evangelist at Salesforce. “The world of IoT is still so nascent and nebulous; there are few well-defined paths into the industry,” she added. “This may seem like a daunting prospect, but it can also be a tremendous advantage to those with an eye for exploration beyond the bounds of convention.” David Middle-camp, Lead Solution Architect at Particle, suggests looking to Hackster and Instructables for communities of makers and project ideas.
6. Keep your skills cutting edge
Learning one platform or skillset isn’t enough, according to IBM research scientist and master inventor Eli Dow. “The platform you write for this week will often be obsolete within 6 months to a year,” Dow said. “Sensors will change, single board computers or other embedded platforms will continue to evolve, and you have to have the flexibility to adapt as platforms change at a blistering pace.”
Becoming an IoT developer means being “obsessed” with technology, said Erin Essex, creative director at Webonise. “Successful Internet of Things Developers must be tech news junkies—they should know everything that is going on in the industry, what’s hot, what’s old news, and what could be the next great thing,” Essex said. “This will provide the foundation needed to tinker with technology and make whatever is being built, the best it can possibly be.” Contact Musato Technologies today to learn more about out innovative and cutting-edge ICT services and solutions for successful businesses.- An article by Alison DeNisco Rayome