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Thursday, December 17, 2015

How Many Developers Does It Take to Screw In a Lightbulb? Leveraging the Internet of Things!

The Internet of Things (IoT)

by Steve Drucker, Founder

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing number of devices that are now connected to the Internet and can be programmed remotely (typically from your smartphone).  Everything from from Oral-B toothbrushes to Samsung Washer-DryersNest Thermostats, and Philips Light Bulbs are now connected and have their own programming interfaces. Additional products are coming online that enable you to control virtually any electronic device remotely.
This technology revolution opens the door for software developers to produce some truly innovative and immersive experiences. Easy to use API’s and libraries now exist, such as Cylon.js and the forthcoming “Thunder” IoT platform from Salesforce.com that make it quite simple to control devices in the physical world from the virtual one. Of course, all of this power also opens up a myriad of security concerns as well. While I certainly don’t want my blender getting hacked into and ruining my margarita,  I have a dream where I can install NEST thermostats in my sales team’s houses and turn up the heat (literally) when automatic reporting from Salesforce.com indicates that they’re not making their quotas. Because that’s how I roll.

Enlightening yourself about IoT with Philips Hue Lights

For our first IoT trick, we’re going to use several well-proven technologies to produce a simple app to control a Philips Hue lightbulb. I’ve been using Hue bulbs for a couple of years now and they’re fantastic. They use light-emitting diodes to produce energy-efficient light across the RGB palette. Each bulb contains a wi-fi radio that connects to a bridge.
Philips Hue Starter Kit with Bridge and 3 Connected Bulbs

The Bridge has its own REST API that enables you to easily get a list of the bulbs that have been named/registered as well as send commands to set the color and brightness of each bulb.

Tools of the Trade

We used the following tools to produce our first IoT app. As a bonus, all of the aforementioned products are free and open-source. They also all use JavaScript as their programming language.
  • Node.JS application server
    Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient. Node.js’ package ecosystem, npm, is the largest ecosystem of open source libraries in the world.
  • Cylon.JS API for Controlling Devices
    Cylon.js is a JavaScript framework for robotics, physical computing, and the Internet of Things. It makes it incredibly easy to command robots and devices.
  • Sencha Ext JS (GPL License) for producing the front-end GUI.
    The most comprehensive JavaScript framework for building feature-rich cross-platform web applications targeting desktop, tablets, and smartphones. Ext JS leverages HTML5 features on modern browsers while maintaining compatibility and functionality for legacy browsers.

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