So you’ve created a basic IoT prototype. What now?

One common request I see from clients is the need to monitor and control their device through a cloud interface. I’m working on a number of projects right now with companies that have legacy products that they want to modernise by connecting it to the cloud, and it’s easy to see why. They are looking for new ways to monitor their devices, remotely admin and control them if need be, and in a lot of cases develop a new advantage that they can use when making sales.

Over the last ten years there’s been a boom in IoT cloud services and the hardware that enables it has become easier to use then ever. Today I want to run through some of the tech platforms that can help you to do this and help you get started.

Blynk

Blynk offers an off the shelf solution to put together an app that can let you communicate with IoT devices, enabling a developer to easily and quickly put together an app that lets them remotely monitor and control what they’ve been working on.

If what you’re looking for is a phone app that can control a small number of devices, Blynk is perfect.

You can find a getting started guide for it here, and it’s as simple as downloading an app and installing a library.

Positives:

  • Simple to use, with an intuitive WYSIWYG editor through their app
  • Well supported, with a wide range of hardware platforms explicitly covered. In my experience working with other IoT platforms is as simple as setting up a webhook.
  • The paid tiers offer a wide range of options for scaling up, including the conversion to a web app and whitelabelling of the service.

Negatives:

  • You’re limited with what you can do for free, with the platform using a microtransaction model for adding UI elements to your dashboard. They aren’t terribly expensive, but it does add up over multiple projects.
  • Not every feature is available on their free tier.

Azure IoT Central

Azure’s solution is built on top of their currently existing IoT features, consolidating them all into one webapp interface.

I tend to recommend this platform for clients that are looking for something that can monitor and control a large number of devices, and is well suited in my experience for mass industrial use.

Positives:

  • The free tier covers all of the available features for the platform, with costs only coming up when the number of devices in use go above a set limit.
  • Easier control and analysis over a wide range of devices.

Negatives:

  • You have less control over the UI elements.
  • Compared to Blynk it’s harder to use, and in my experience harder to integrate with most hardware platforms.

If you aren’t interested in using either of these, or if you are interested in something with a bit more flexibility, then Microsoft and Amazon both offer a variety of cloud services that can help you. Although I couldn’t find an all in one solution like the others discussed above, I’ve used AWS’s Cloudwatch logging service to monitor various devices in the field successfully.

Good luck, and happy making. If you’re interested in discussing what you’re working on, feel free to contact me.

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