Network devices with embedded information systems can be found at every turn. This means there is a growing need for IoT developers to create them. What skills does an aspiring IoT developer need to gain a foothold in the IoT industry?
What is Necessary to Know for IoT Developers
Smart homes, cars, and offices have become quite popular recently. Not surprisingly, this segment requires a lot of specialists capable of ensuring the proper and safe operation of networks and devices.
The importance of Internet of Things (IoT) technology has become even more apparent after the GSMA predicted there will be 25 billion connected smart devices by 2025. IoT Analytics published data on 12 billion connections in 2020.
Let’s figure out what skills a novice IoT developer needs to master the profession.
C and C++ Programming Languages
C/C++ syntax is quite complex, but you have to learn it. Languages of this family are actively used for efficient coding of IoT systems that interact with basic hardware. C/C++ memory handling and optimization capabilities allow you to squeeze the maximum performance out of under-resourced devices. The basics you should know:
- Binary and hexadecimal number systems.
- C operators and expressions.
- Control operators.
- Functions. Working with memory.
- Data types. Basics of object-oriented programming (C++). User-defined data types.
- Program structure in C.
- IDE and development tools.
- Standard C/C++ libraries.
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Various operating systems and even general-purpose systems are used to control smart devices, many of which are based on GNU/Linux. The future smart device engineer needs to know the basics of this OS. It is worth choosing and learning a specific distribution if you have never encountered Linux. Pay attention to the following topics:
- Users. Managing users and groups.
- Booting the operating system and processes.
- Layout of a Linux file system. The concept of a file and a directory.
- Bash scripts. The crontab and task scheduler.
- Managing packages and repositories. Network security basics.
A distribution based on Debian/Ubuntu (e.g. Linux Mint) is worth installing as a second system. These systems are used, in particular, on the popular Raspberry Pi microcomputer, so experience with them would not be out of place.
Many Internet of Things applications require a microcontroller (also known as an MCU) connected to the Internet. It incorporates computing modules, memory, and programmable I/O peripherals in a single integrated circuit. MCUs differ from the microprocessors used in personal and embedded computers in that they are specifically designed for IoT applications where computing is not the sole purpose.
To determine which microcontroller will work best with your application, you need to know some key features:
- Bits (fuses)
- Flash memory
- GPIO (General purpose input/output pins)
- Connection options
- Power consumption
There are quite a few good microcontrollers available. Some of them are Arduino boards and STM32 controllers, suitable for beginners and professionals alike. The boards have good performance and work with most modern sensors and devices. In addition to microcontrollers, more powerful embedded computers can also be used to create IoT solutions.
Fundamentals of Electronics and Circuit Engineering
You will need a basic understanding of electronics and circuitry to work with the various microcontroller devices and boards. You should be familiar with the following topics:
- Circuit Engineering. Familiarity with basic components and tools.
- Electronic connection calculations.
- Connection and control of loads.
- Currents. Power supplies and filters Galvanic isolation.
- Linear converters. Modern LDOs.
- Operational amplifiers.
- Logic elements.
Pay a lot of attention to this topic. It is very sensitive.
Specifics of Work
To program the hardware, you require three tools: a development environment (IDE), a debugger, and an evaluation board from the manufacturer. IDEs include the following:
- For the ARM architecture – Embedded Workbench from IAR Systems and uVision from Keil.
- For the AVR architecture – CodevisionAVR and AVRstudio.
The debugger is a device that connects to the device board via USB to fix software bugs. The evaluation board serves as a training ground for prototyping, implementing, and testing new ideas. Practical soldering skills will also be required to start working with the boards.
A little bit about security
The IoT developer needs to remember that smart devices are not only extremely convenient, but also vulnerable. They give cybercriminals entry points into the user’s personal life. Because the internal functionality of the device remains unchanged, a hijacking is difficult to detect. In a persistent denial-of-service (PDoS) attack, IoT devices can be damaged enough to require replacement. Regular network security monitoring and embedded software updates are a must, so IoT developers should explore the following topics:
- Access control systems
- Authentication and authorization mechanisms
Adhering to high-quality standards based on previous user experience is essential when making a commercial IoT product. Quality and reliability are paramount and should be part of any IoT developer’s mentality.
17 Free IoT Developer Courses to Start a Career
You can study IoT development on your own (long) or take courses with instructors (fast), choosing from the best online learning platforms. Plus, you have to consider that there are a lot of juniors, the competition is higher, and employers raise the entry threshold for hiring. Here is the list of 17 free IoT developer courses:
- Raspberry Pi Workshop 2018 Become a Coder / Maker / Inventor. You will learn about the Raspberry Pi ecosystem, how to code in Python, use GPIOs, write Shell scripts, plan tasks, create desktop applications with a graphical interface, and use Raspberry Pi within the Internet of Things.
- Introduction to IoT (Cisco Networking Academy, 20 hours). You will get to know the IoT, understand how it changes business processes, and explore security issues when implementing the Internet of Things.
- Introduction to the Internet of Things and Embedded Systems (Coursera, 38 videos). You will design, build, and implement IoT devices using Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms.
- AWS IoT: Developing and Deploying an Internet of Things. You will learn how to deploy IoT devices integrated with services such as AWS IoT Core, AWS IoT Device Management, and AWS IoT Analytics and how to collect, process, and analyze data from IoT devices in the cloud.
- Introduction and Programming with IoT Boards (Coursera, 14 videos). It introduces IoT, networking, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and ARTIK Board programming.
- Industrial IoT on Google Cloud (Coursera, 29 videos). You will get an introduction to Google IoT architecture. You will implement data transfer from the device to BigQuery and Dataprep.
- Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) (Coursera, 35 videos). In this course, students will learn the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) concept, its use in manufacturing, and what businesses should consider when deciding to adopt this technology.
- IoT Devices (Coursera, 28 videos). Students will learn IoT device programming (Arduino and Raspberry Pi), sensors, IoT protocol stacks (Zigbee, 5G, NFC, MQTT, etc.), security, data science for IoT, and IoT cloud platforms such as AWS IoT.
- IoT (Internet of Things) Wireless & Cloud Computing Emerging Technologies (Coursera, 51 videos). In this course, you will learn projects that teach how to analyze Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless networks and configure and use EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) in AWS (Amazon Web Service).
- Software Architecture for the Internet of Things (Coursera, 31 videos). It talks about best practices for designing complex IoT systems.
- Cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (Coursera, 15 videos). You will learn how to secure industrial, home, and wearable IoT.
- Smart Cities – Management of Smart Urban Infrastructures (Coursera, 36 videos). You will learn how to move from legacy urban infrastructure to smart city systems.
- Industry 4.0: How to Revolutionize your Business (edX, 6 modules). You will learn about the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the drivers of Industry 4.0, cloud technologies, service automation, and how to prepare for the transition to Industry 4.0.
- IoT Networks and Protocols (edX, 6 modules). You will learn to identify which protocols are best for different IoT applications, and how to design a primary network for your own IoT ideas.
- IoT Programming and Big Data (edX, 5 modules). You will learn how to apply software solutions to different systems and work with big data in IoT projects. You will also create Python scripts to manage large data sets collected from sensors.
- IoT Sensors and Devices. After completing the course, you will know how to determine which sensors are needed for a particular task and design IoT systems.
- IoT System Architecture: Design and Evaluation (edX, 3 modules). You will gain skills in designing an IoT system according to the Attribute-Driven Design (ADD) method and system evaluation using the Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method (ATAM).
These are 17 of the best courses about IoT development.
We have selected 17 free courses on the Internet of Things – from the basics to building Smart Cities and implementing IoT technologies in business. We hope this selection is of interest not only to beginners, but also to professionals.