With over a billion smartphones and over 179 billion mobile applications downloaded in a year, mobile development has clearly taken center stage in the world of computing.
Enterprises and developers who have developed state-of-the-art cutting edge mobility solutions cannot rest on their laurels though. The world of mobility is ever evolving, with new breakthroughs and refined systems relegating existing technologies and methods to the back burner, at a rapid pace. Here are some of the imminent future trends that are sure to shake up the world of app development and disrupt the ecosystem as we know it today.
The Rise of Internet of Things and Mobile-connected Smart Objects
About 101.9 million wearable devices were shipped in 2016, and these numbers are growing exponentially. Additionally, about 26 billion connected devices, from toys to domestic appliances, from medical devices to controllable power sockets, and much more are expected to be up and running by 2020.
Wearables have been popular for quite some time now, but wearables are evolving, becoming smarter than before, as epitomized by Apple Watch, Microsoft’s HoloLens, and other gadgets. Such smart wearables would be deeply integrated with apps, to deliver a well-synchronized and complete experience for users. Apps in the IoT age would evolve to become a personal-area network hub and a central console for hundreds of connected things around users. The connected things, wearables, and other gadgets would deliver relevant real-time information to users, analyzed into actionable information.
Apple’s “Homekit” range of products, which enable wireless and electronic control of household appliances through a smart home app is a portent of things to come. Likewise, applications such as self-driving cars, deep freezers that read tweets, and more are all on the verge of becoming mainstream, and apps that power such technologies will become commonplace.
Apps to Facilitate Even Deeper Personalization
Apps have an inherent advantage of being able to leverage the unique capabilities of mobile devices. Many apps already leverage features such as GPS, location based services, voice and facial recognition capabilities and other capabilities. Going on, as the marketplace becomes more competitive and technology unlocks new potentials, leveraging such features would become the norm rather than the exception. The magnitude of the capabilities would also increase.
It is going to get better. For instance, modern smartphones have location sensor capabilities that use multiple positioning methods to provide different granularities of location data. Apps would leverage such capabilities to ascertain the user’s location to within a few meters and offer highly relevant and extremely personalized contextual information and services. Several day-to-day activities, from ordering groceries to calling an electrician, and several high-end applications related to security, gaming, vehicle navigation and more would become not just possible but also seamless, leveraging such capabilities.
Apps to Become Technologically Richer
As the app marketplace become increasingly crowded and user attention becomes short, app developers would deploy techniques to deal with challenges such as partial user attention and interruption, in a big way. Some of the innovative features tipped to become commonplace soon, includes circular design pattern, interactive content layers, intelligent manipulation of content to allow users interact with the content in further detail, and much more.
Such innovations would come on top of the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and other technologies. Research major, Forrester, estimates more than 300% increase in investment in artificial intelligence in 2017, compared to 2016. App developers are tipped to incorporate advanced analytics, cognitive interfaces, and machine learning techs in a big way, to deliver hyper-powerful apps.
Cross-Platform and Cross-Device Development
The mobile space is highly fragmented with different operating systems, device configurations and screen sizes. This is unlikely to become passe anytime soon, and in fact, the fragmentation may accentuate as new mobility inspired hardware and software hit the market.
The sustenance of such a fragmented ecosystem would mean app developers adapting to roll out cross-platform apps in greater numbers. HTML5 may have been a false flag, but newer solutions are on the anvil to make apps work on all platforms.
Cloud adoption of apps would also rise in a big way compared to the present. A Cisco research estimates cloud apps to drive 90% of total mobile data traffic by 2019, with 11-fold growth, or a CAGR of 60% from present times. Services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are only the tip of the iceberg, compared to what lies ahead.
There will be a tectonic change in the programming language in use as well. For instance, while Objective C is the incumbent language for developing iOS applications, Swift, the next-gen programming language has already caught the fancy of most developers.
Overall investment in enterprise apps is slated to grow. An Adobe study reveals about 77% business owners finding enterprise apps advantageous to their business, and 66% of them increasing their investments in this front. However, enterprises seeking to get returns on such investment need to go beyond merely adopting the latest technology. They need to ensure the enterprise apps they roll out are robust and customized to their enterprise. A tie up with a sound partner, whose sole focus is app development, and who has a talented team to back up their claims works wonders.
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That the cloud is the backbone of this IoT revolution goes without saying. Reports from the January 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) reveal most manufacturers equipping their devices, be it refrigerators, cars, dishwashers, running shoes, thermostats, and every other conceivable device massive cloud-based back end, to enable such devices to join the IoT bandwagon. The investment in cloud capabilities comes from the twin need to enable these devices to become “smart” by receiving and transmitting data, and to give these devices long-term value by making them instantly upgradable. The cloud facilitates both these IoT objectives.
For IoT to work, the connected device needs to communicate with other “things” and also with whoever holds the control strings. The “thing” connects with cloud servers to receive and transmit data, and store instructions and commands. At another pane, the “small” data from each connected yet disparate “thing” accumulate and become big data in the cloud. The convergence of huge quantities of critical data in a common cloud pane, accessible anytime and anywhere, enables real-time analytics.
The possibilities of such cloud powered real-time analytics to make life better, and for businesses to unlock new opportunities are endless. A few cases in point:
- Traffic controllers can source in small data from hundreds of IoT-enabled traffic signals, and subject it to real time big data analytics in the cloud, to ensure synchronized operation of traffic lights, and deliver seamless movement of traffic.
- Smart sensors attached to a pair of running shoes may clock the runner’s pace and notify them when it is time to replace the shoes. Small data from millions of such shoes would allow shoe manufacturers to predict demand accurately, and target prospects with precision.
- IoT-powered refrigerators can let the homeowner know when food products are reaching their expiration date, or when the stock is running out. It may also transmit data to the supermarket, who can then predict demand accurately, and get their inventory right. In fact, the refrigerator may send off a replenishment order to the supermarket automatically.
Millions of sensors embedded on things already monitor and track data of all hues, and deeper insights from the analysis of such big data facilitate better-informed decisions and responses, cutting across industries and sectors.
But is the cloud really necessary for all this? Can IoT make itself useful without the cloud?
The IoT ecosystem that enables the possibilities would not be possible without back-end cloud-based applications that churn, translate and transmit valuable intelligence.
With terabytes of data flowing in from millions of disparate connected “things,” the cloud is the only viable platform that can filter, store, and enable access of the required information, in useful ways.
The amount of incoming data from connected devices sensors often fluctuates widely. A sensor may generate 1000 KB of data in a day, 4TB on another day, and may not generate any data at all on a Sunday. The elasticity of the cloud enables scaling up or scaling down resources to absorb such wide fluctuations of data.
Hybrid cloud systems facilitate IoT-enabled services to communicate with geographically distributed back-end systems. This anytime anywhere connectivity is indispensable for real-time analytics, and to enable path-breaking business models and public services.
The cloud back-end does away with the near-impossible alternative of regularly updating thousands of individual “things.” Updates are a part and parcel of any system’s life, and is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
The built-in security of the cloud assures that data is protected and compliance standards are baked into the platform.
For all the enablers of the cloud, security remained a drawback. For instance, IoT enabled driverless cars, with cloud servers providing navigation instructions to car, but what if someone hacked into the public cloud server and send the passengers to Kingdom Come! Newer purpose-built clouds that device developers may share or use exclusively offers viable solutions to such security risks, combined with newer tools that protect from information leakage and iron out the few remaining chinks in the cloud armor.
The cloud and IoT being an inseparable couple cuts both ways. Even as the IoT requires the cloud to work, the cloud is evolving to better serve IoT. In fact, IoT is now a chief focus of the cloud.
As the number of connected devices increases exponentially, cloud infrastructure is on the threshold of a massive scale up, to accommodate the data swell. Unique, custom build hybrid cloud deployment models, leveraging the latest advances in software and networking, designed to meet the needs of customers’ unique workloads, enable IoT players to maximize the potential the cloud offers, without being hassled by availability, performance and security issues. Side by side specialized cloud-based service software, systems and skill development is in a boom phase, as is bandwidth improvements to facilitate transmission of data between “things” and the cloud.
A case in point, Microsoft’s recently launched Azure Functions, a “server-less compute,” allowing developers to create apps that automatically respond to events is one such path-breaking service launched recently. Microsoft’s Azure Service Fabric platform-as-a-service (PaaS) platform makes it possible to decompose applications into microservices, for increased availability and scalability.
The IoT revolution is well underway, but as things stand, only the tip of the IoT iceberg has been touched, with just 0.06% of things that could be potentially connected to the Internet being currently connected. However, growth is exponential, with 328 million new “things” being connected to the IoT ecosystem every month. The cloud infrastructure is gearing up simultaneously, to enable a whole new world of cloud powered IoT.
Fingent delivers technologies to enable your IoT solutions— cloud, networks and gateways, heterogeneous device support, systems capabilities, and data analytics. We provide industry-specific solutions that improve productivity and operational efficiency, with exceptional reliability and security. Learn about Fingent’s IoT System
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Work related injuries account for about $250 million in the United States, across several industries. And out of this, about 20% of them have been found to be lower back injuries. As a matter of fact, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, back injuries accounted for a major number of lost employee work days.
Most organizations do know the importance of occupational health and safety practices, yet a lot of them still struggle to maintain it. Even though there are a number of systems available for it, organizations find it hard to decide the effectiveness of one over the other.
This is Where Wearable or Wearable Technology can Help.
Injuries can happen by chance, and sometimes they are unavoidable, like an accidental slip, or fall. Most other times though, one of the major causes of injuries is a lack of proper technique in performing a job. For instance, in the case of loading and unloading, often asymmetrical loading leads to injuries.
Wearables can help in this regard, by keeping track of and recording every single step taken, or move made, or turn or twist and promptly send back a report stating exactly where the workers pose a possibility for injury due to poor movements.
How Wearables can Help Improve Workplace Safety
Wearable technology has become so sophisticated these days that they can accurately measure human movements and postures like never before. Thus they are capable of providing companies with prompt, objective data that can be easily interpreted and turned into effective results.
Wearable technology makes use of certain small sensors that can be placed on the workers, as they go about their daily work routines. These sensors are capable of providing live data regarding their movements, which can be accompanied with high-definition videos that can help accurately single out the risk areas easily. Repeated problematic movements can be identified as a possibility of injury. Alternatively, if the worker hasn’t made any movement for a particular amount of time, the system can automatically trigger an alert to co-workers, to act on instantly.
For example, VINCI, a global construction company in the UK, actually implemented wearables in their workplace. They placed sensors on their brick-laying workers to collect real-time objective data, which resulted in lesser risks of lower back injury and even increased productivity and efficiency. Some of the detailed results were:
- Upto 85% reduction in time spent doing work involving a more than 20 degrees back bending
- An 84% reduction in lower back muscle activation
- A 17% increase in productivity, in terms of bricks per minute
- A 70% reduction in repetitive higher risk associated movements
GPS in Wearable to Ensure Technician and Client Safety
Tracking and monitoring technologies integrated to wearables ensure remote technicians remain safe. ReachOut, for example, helps integrate a right mix of mobile devices and wearable technology with location tracking capabilities. This provides a comprehensive in-the-field safety for technicians and allows clients to tackle tricky “lone worker” problems, no matter how remote the technician’s location.
To support the above facts, the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London has found that the productivity of people using wearables has increased by 8.5%
There are many more cases where wearable technologies can be used to improve workplace safety. For example, several Australian engineers have developed certain “patches” that are programmed to detect toxic gases and UV radiation, which can immensely help workers in the chemical manufacturing industry.
Another instance is in Rio Tinto, where their coal mine truck drivers use a certain device that resembles a baseball hat, to measure brainwaves in order to keep a check on and avoid fatigue-related problems.
Thus, it is evident that wearable technologies can do more than just reduce work injuries.
On a technical note, aside from the fact that work injuries affect productivity and efficiency, unsafe work environments can also increase the insurance costs incurred by a company. Moreover, hazardous environments, without possible safety precautions, can affect employee morale in a huge way, and in turn, reduce employee retention rates.
Hence, it is in the best interest of every organization to invest in improving the safety of workers, and reducing the risks of injuries. Wearables are capable of providing this much-needed safety, by carefully monitoring and comprehending human movements as well as other environmental factors, thereby helping to maintain an optimum level of health for them and the overall business.