What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for quite a while, but what is it really? Simply put IoT is the concept of connecting any device, switch or thing to the internet for monitoring, control and data analysis. These devices can range from a lamp to coffee makers, washing machines, measuring temperature and controlling your irrigation or hydroponics system.
The idea is to improve on existing systems or solve problems and doing it cost effectively. It might be as simple as switching your lights on and off when you are not at home, automatically control your air conditioners, checking for gas leaks on your gas stove or using machine learning to see who is at your front door. The possibilities is near limitless and depends on your creativity and dedication.
So how do I get started?
There is a number of elements involved in building an IoT solution from the sensors to the micro-controllers, connecting to the cloud and data analytics. To get started though you need to have a good understanding of:
- Basic electronics
- Analog and digital sensors
- Using micro-controllers like Arduino or Raspberry Pi
The above might seem difficult and tedious for those who doesn't come from a programmming or electronics background, but this doesn't necessarily need to be the case.
For those that are already proficient in electronics and just need to get started with programming and making, Development Kits are the best place to start. Choosing a kit boils down to personal preference and budget. All the kits are build upon the Arduino programming platform and there are thousands of sample codes and tutorials available online.
If you would like to get a more in depth understanding of the electronics, sensors and how micro-controllers works then I would strongly suggest enrolling in a Udemy course online.
I personally made use of Dr. Peter Dalmaris' course Tech Explorations Arduino Step by Step: Getting Started. This is a great course easy to follow and gives you all the tools to begin your IOT journey. This course usually sells for U$149.99 (N$2,249.85), but sales do happen often where you can get them for as little as U$10.99 (N$165.00). Most of the parts that you need for this course can be obtained from EcoRobotics with a KIT to be added to the store shortly which will contain all the course hardware.
Once you have either gotten an IOT kit or followed the Udemy course your next steps will be up to you. Either delve deeper into the electronics or find out how to connect your micro-controller to the cloud and develop user interfaces and dashboards.
I hope this helps to get you started building interesting and fun IOT solutions!