16 Oct 2020

DIY IoT Devices for everyone

This is just an essay I wrote for my English class.

Internet of things (IoT) has been around for a while already, there is a plethora of devices that will perform some mundunane tasks like, like turning lights on and off on your house, but in a slick way by leveraging on technology to make it easier and even remote, so you can turn the lights on and off from an app on your phone or ask your digital assistant to turn them off for you.

A few years back, some people in an italian university decides that they needed a tool to help them teach embedded software development to their students and create Arduino, a board that uses a commonly available microcontroller in a way that simplifies the usage of such microcontrollers. They make the hardware and the software open source, and suddenly everyone could use it, but not only for teaching.

Nowadays, you are not even limited by what some company decided to build, since the technology is so easy to use and modularized in a way that you can actually Do It Yourself and build whatever you fancy by adding a few components and writing a program. Mocking ideas for new products has become a lot easier too, since they can leverage on prebuilt Arduino modules and libraries that can perform a multitude of tasks that can combined to complete a task.

But is this good for the consumers? suddenly, anyone can build themselves automated lights for the house, a 4G connected GPS that tracks your car, or a light thatturns on when you wake up and night and dims itself when you go back to sleep. But since most of those where weekend projects they usually have lots of problems related to lack of testing, bad component quality and more than likely unsecure software practices that make those devices vulnerables to different kind of attacks. On the flipside, this democratizes the access to the technology and lets people be creative on how to solve specific problems that otherwise would have no solution since are not common enough for a company to create a product around that idea.

Some companies do not like the idea that some entrepreneur can create the next revolutionary device in they garage with a cheap lab, on the other hand some companies are basically producing building blocks for people that want to create their own things by creating more refined modules and components that will let anyone with a little knowledge and googling skills to build something else. Welcome to the DIY IoT era…