The Global Mobile Trends 2017 Report  confirms that three quarters of the
population is now connected to the Internet via mobile phones. The Internet of things (IoT) is the
network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics,
software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these things to connect, collect and
exchange data . The IoT concept was first introduced by Kevin Ashton, co-founder of the Auto-ID
Center at MIT when he wanted to present the idea of radio frequency ID (RFID) to Procter & Gamble
(P&G) in 1999 .
The “things” may include smart devices, sensors, analytical data, vehicle
diagnostic systems data, weather reports, health monitors, etc. It may be your smart home,
surveilling your home, checking your doors, managing your lighting, watering your plants, monitoring
your health, reading your heartbeat, detecting your sleep patterns and notifying you when to wake up.
But the concept of IoT is simple. It’s a large stream of data that provide us information of
what is going on around us. The IoT platform consumes the data, integrates the information and
provides very meaningful information to the end-users.
Imagine your car is an IoT device. What will it do differently? First, let’s think about how
it would be today, without IoT.
You will keep a track of your service records, mileage and be mindful of scheduled maintenance. No
one will know when the next fault will arise, and your repairs will then be reactive. In other words,
you will do a repair only when you notice that your car is not doing right.
But imagine the car you used was an IoT compatible car. It would know when the service is due, it
will keep track of your service records, it can even initiate preventive maintenance. When you take
your car to the service station, it could even be ready for your service. The IoT network can
communicate what needs to be replaced and can ensure that the required spare parts are ordered and
ready when the car is sent for service.
Imagine, your fridge was an IoT device, it would know what’s in it, and it will know what
items are running low. It can even notify you about the things you need to buy, and if you’ve
enabled auto purchasing, it will order the stuff online and the items would be at your door step
When technology advances, processors become cheaper, integrating smart features become more and more
affordable, and IoT gets integrated into our lives.
What is “Android Things”?
In terms of Google, Google’s IoT solutions make it easy to build connected devices. If anyone
wants to create a smart device, there are a few steps that need to be completed beforehand. These
steps basically convert this whole flow into a simple process in just a few minutes. With that,
developers can focus on the real development directly. On top of this, if developers want to connect
to Google services or need a turnkey hardware solution, Google provides that with a way to create
secure and innovative products.
Android Things, which is formally known as Project Brillo, provides a rich platform to
develop IoT solutions over a prototype or a system onboard a hardware platform, which is based on an
existing Android stack. It provides an OS built on the power, ease, and security of Android and
certified hardware to get you from prototype to production quickly. Because it's based on Android,
you get access to Android APIs, Google services, and Android developer tools (see Figure 1).
Android Things uses most of the Android components with additional APIs provided by the Things
Support Library, which lets you integrate new types of hardware not found on mobile devices.
Developing apps for embedded devices is different from mobile in a few important ways such as:
- More flexible access to hardware peripherals and drivers
than mobile devices
- System apps are not present to optimize startup and
- Apps are launched automatically on startup to immerse
your users in the app experience
- Devices expose only one app to users, instead of multiple
like with mobile devices
The Android Things hardware platform support can basically divide into two pathways, namely
production and development.
Production System-on-Modules (SoMs) are fully supported for production use cases and SoMs are
certified by Google to meet security requirements. Android Things’ stability and security
updates will be available for a minimum of 3 years on all production SoMs. The following table will
show SoMs currently supported by Google (see Table 1).
Table 1: Source : www.developer.android.com/things/hardware
Development platforms are provided to enable prototyping and testing. They do not meet Google's
security standards and may not receive stability and security updates. Google will continue to
provide feature updates to ensure that you can develop on these platforms and seamlessly port your
code over to a production platform. Table 2 shows the development platforms currently supported.
Source : www.developer.android.com/things/hardware
Privacy and Security
IoT allows a lot of “things” to be interconnected to a single point, but as the number
of devices increase, it increases the points of vulnerability on the system. In 2016, ForeScout
Technologies, a company specializing in IoT Security & Device Visibility, released a report
taking seven commonly used IoT devices, that included smart fridges, connected printers and
IP-connected security systems. The report conveyed alarming information about the security of these
devices. Most devices could be hacked within 3 minutes. Being able to be hacked in 3 minutes triggers
a high security risk for these commercially available devices.
Just imagine your IoT device being hacked and it has a camera or a microphone. Your video feeds and
voice feeds could be all over the Internet. Imagine your smart home being hacked. Doors will start to
open, lights will start to blink, and only the hackers will know what your smart home’s next
move will be!
IoT brings you great convenience, but it needs to be secured properly. Any vulnerabilities could be
very costly to the IoT industry.