Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications frameworks are also known as the Internet of Things. The technology is seeping into applications like fleet tracking, logistics, connected home systems, remote sensors, clean tech, and retail Point of Sale (POS) systems. However, M2M is held back because current M2M development tools and processes aren't very replicable.
DataArt, a boutique software development and outsourcing firm based in New York City, recently launched DeviceHive, an open source M2M communications framework from which developers can build M2M projects. DeviceHive touches upon three critical technologies that affect mobile developers and their users today:
DeviceHive is designed to sit in the middle of a network of connected devices and serve as a communications framework for business and consumer applications. This has a plethora of applications in the tablets and smartphones world, plus DeviceHive is platform agnostic (not proprietary), so you are free to develop for Android, iOS, or any other mobile platform. It lets developers make any connected mobile device -- such as a tablet or smartphone -- part of the Internet of Things.
The DeviceHive framework includes:
- A communications layer
- Control software
- Multi-platform libraries
DataArt bundling these elements together is a huge thing, because they were often developed as proprietary tools or one-offs for a given M2M development project. The DeviceHive framework handles the device communications, which allows developers to focus on product functionality.
DeviceHive supports the following:
- Device libraries
- .NET Framework
- .NET Micro Framework
- C (Microcontrollers)
- Server side
- .NET Framework
- .NET Framework
DeviceHive changes the game of M2M development by lowering the bar of entry with the help of open source technologies, and not by focusing on just one industry either. I can see DeviceHive becoming a huge force in M2M development, because going open source is such a game changer from the near proprietary state that dogs current M2M development.
I had the opportunity to speak on the phone with Artyom Astafurov, Chief Innovation Officer at DataArt and Co-Founder of DeviceHive, who pointed out that DeviceHive eliminates the burden of having to develop messaging protocols and communications libraries so developers can focus on developing the functionality of their M2M project. They've built a self-contained platform that does away with the proprietary foundations of the M2M world -- and once deployed, DeviceHive allows queuing between devices and clients apps with their ready-made and customizable API.
Getting started with DeviceHive
While DataArt is in the business of software development outsourcing, they've made the extra effort to really document DeviceHive. Astafurov says programmers with a strong background in embedded systems, Python, Java, and web and mobile programming should be able to kick start an M2M development project using the resources and tutorials assembled on the DeviceHive platform. DeviceHive online resources include detailed online documentation and even code samples for basic M2M projects.
DataArt is eventually going to want a Return on Investment (ROI) from their DeviceHive work, but they are aiming to keep their platform open source. At the time of this writing, DataArt is working on DeviceHive 1.1 that builds on the strong framework they launched in DeviceHive 1.0. Their plan includes improvements to the communications and messaging functions, device registration improvements, and extension of the DeviceHive Data Model.
What DeviceHive means for mobile workers
Using DeviceHive for M2M development can be a great equalizer for organizations, because it offers the entry-level tools to help experienced developers get started on their first M2M development project. These same developers also see benefits from using the DeviceHive framework's reusable components vs. having to develop M2M components for their projects from scratch. This could lead to a true M2M revolution with the potential to change the face of consumer and business mobile apps, especially in vertical industries such as healthcare, logistics, and industrial monitoring.
Visit DeviceHive.com for further information about the DeviceHive framework, documentation, sample projects, and downloads.
For a comprehensive look at the issues and technologies surrounding the Internet of Things and the emerging M2M ecosystem, check out ZDNet's latest feature page, Tapping M2M: The Internet of Things.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.