March 27, 2024

How to Control IoT Devices: Smart Management for Connected Businesses

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How to control IoT devices blog article

In today's interconnected world, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become a cornerstone of global digitalization. IoT devices are actively integrating into many business domains and the expansion is gaining momentum. According to The Business Research Company report, the IoT market size is projected to hit USD 552.87 billion in 2024. No surprise since connected solutions positively impact businesses of all sizes. 

However, with this increased connectivity the need for effective control and management of these devices emerges as well. So how can you control an IoT connected smart device? This article is about to give the answer. We'll explore the various methods and technologies for secure remote control of IoT devices.

You'll learn about the importance of communication protocols, such as MQTT, TCP/IP, DDS, CoAP, and AMQP that ensure the confidentiality and integrity of your data transmissions. Besides reviewing the core challenges of managing IoT devices, we’ll share A-Team Global’s expertise in this field. 

First, let’s recap what connected devices are and how businesses benefit from them. However, if you are eager to learn about how to control IoT devices right off the bat, skip to the section “What is IoT device control?”

What are IoT devices?

The internet is not just about computers anymore. Today, all kinds of everyday objects can be controllable IoT devices over the internet. Connected devices comprise two categories: user equipment and infrastructure.

User equipment includes:

  • Smartphones and tablets
  • Wearable devices
  • Connected appliances
  • Connected vehicles
  • Health and medical devices
  • Industrial and commercial equipment
  • Environmental sensors

As to the infrastructure, it encompasses frameworks, systems, and components that enable the operation, connectivity, and functionality of IoT devices:

  • Communication networks
  • IoT gateways
  • Cloud computing platforms
  • Edge computing
  • Data analytics and machine learning
  • Security tech remedies
  • Application development platforms
  • Sensor and actuator networks
  • Software architecture

IoT devices not only become an integral part of people's routine lives but also prove themselves as essential components for businesses in various domains.

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Key benefits of IoT devices for businesses

IoT devices help companies in diverse industries overcome their business challenges through comprehensive automation and connectivity. The ability to process data enables organizations to gather valuable insights, streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and create new business opportunities.

Let’s have a look at what specific aspects of businesses the IoT moves the needle in today’s reality.

Operational efficiency

Continuous data collection from sensors and gadgets lets managers track their operations and assets online. Thus, predicting stockouts and monitoring the physical depreciation of equipment, machines, and vehicles is possible. This enables companies to schedule timely maintenance, prevent production idleness, and optimize resource utilization.

Cost savings

Besides predictive maintenance and inventory management, IoT devices help companies optimize supply chain processes, streamline logistics and transportation, and rationalize energy usage. Remote IoT device monitoring and control eliminates the costs of frequent on-site visits of technicians to examine connected equipment.

Improved customer experiences

Companies can gather granular customer data with the help of IoT devices. By analyzing users' behavior on the internet and their purchase history businesses can create accurate and personalized recommendations. Also, collected information about users is invaluable when companies elaborate on the implementation of new features and functionalities of their products so they are likely to develop market-fit updates. 

Data-driven decision-making

Real-time analytics and business intelligence integration provide businesses with up-to-date information about their customer preferences and market trends. With these actionable insights, managers avoid guesswork and make informative and data-based strategic decisions.

Enhanced security

Despite IoT devices suffering from cyberattacks, when deployed and supported correctly, they can strengthen cybersecurity. For this purpose, reliable tech vendors implement manifold protection remedies including Secure Shell (SSH) control IoT devices. SSH encrypts data between users’ computers, smartphones, or tablets and connected gadgets ensuring secure transmission and enabling control of IoT devices behind a firewall. There are also other efficient protocols that protect data from threat actors. Read the article to learn more about them.

Competitive advantage

Implementation of customized IoT solutions allows companies to stay ahead of the curve and differentiate themselves from competitors. With this approach, it’s possible to deliver innovative solutions and improve services to clients. Considering IoT technology is scalable, businesses can take advantage of such agility and flexibility to quickly adapt to market changes, customer demands, and industry trends.

What is IoT device control?

IoT device control is the process of monitoring, managing, and maintaining such a device by an administrator. These manipulations are carried out through a network. The device management timeline begins once the hardware is manufactured, the software is in production, and a device is assembled and deployed.

Four core processes take place within the control of the IoT device.  

Data collection

Using diverse sensors, IoT devices collect data from their environment. For example, a fleet monitoring system records the fuel usage of a vehicle. Or, sensors placed in the fields of an agriculture company can detect temperature, humidity, light, soil properties, etc. Capturing real-time video is another form of data collection.  

Data exchange

Next, connected devices forward the collected data to its destination in one of the following ways:

  • Device-to-Device transmission
  • Device-to-Cloud transmission
  • Device-to-Gateway transmission

Alternatively, the devices can store the data locally, at the edge.

Data processing

The data processing cycle includes three stages:

Input stage. At this point, the collected and exchanged data is converted into machine-readable format. Thus, it can be automatically processed by a device without human intervention. 

Processing stage. This is when raw data transforms into information. It happens through such techniques and manipulations as:

  • Classification: Data is categorized or grouped according to specific criteria or characteristics.
  • Sorting: Data is organized and arranged into a specific order or sequence based on defined criteria (time-based, attribute-based, sensor IDs, geographical locations, etc.).
  • Calculation: Data is computed, transformed, analyzed, and ready to be rendered as readable information.

Output stage. The connected device converts data into human-readable form and renders useful information to the end user.

Actions based on received data

At this stage, managers analyze the received information and make data-based business decisions. The information allows decision-makers to get valuable insights and take immediate actions or to create predictions and plan their further operational tactic and strategy.

IoT device management process

Key protocols of IoT remote control devices

To ensure secure and reliable data exchange between users and connected devices, tech vendors adjust numerous protocols. In this section, we will review some of the most popular among them. 

  • Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT). MQTT is a highly optimized and lightweight protocol that consumes a very small amount of power and bandwidth. With MQTT businesses can get data from remote sites using low bandwidth quickly and effectively. The protocol supports control of IoT devices behind routers which can enhance cyber security due to network isolation.
Fun fact. Before 1999, the oil and gas industry was facing a big problem of data exchange from oil and gas pipelines, instruments, and remote terminal units to the Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. It was problematic to get the data on time while received responses were insufficient due to the bandwidth limitations. MQTT protocol was specifically developed to address these issues by engineers Andy Stanford Clark and Arlen Nipper from IBM.
  • Secure Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). The TCP/IP suite is a set of rules for data and information exchange between devices, ensuring seamless and reliable communication across diverse networks. The TCP/IP comprises the following layers:
  • The application layer (includes HTTP, FTP, SMTP, and SNMP).
  • The transport layer (supports end-to-end data transmission).
  • The network layer (ensures connectivity and manages packet transmission within the network).
  • The physical layer (physical hardware devices and media used to transmit data between devices).
  • The Data Distribution Service (DDS). The DDS is the industrial-grade data-centric standard for intelligently distributing real-time data. It’s proven, reliable, and secure. The DDS ensures high performance and scalability necessary for highly-autonomous systems. It works through a databus that allows disparate distributed and connected systems to share and integrate real-time data across multiple devices, applications, and networks—from the edge to the fog and to the cloud. 
  • Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP). The CoAP was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force. A lot of IoT applications are built to operate in constrained environments and devices. This includes energy constraints, memory limitations, limited processing capability, higher latency in communication, unattended network operation, and unreliable networks. The CoAP is a machine-to-machine application layer protocol that runs on User Datagram Protocol and is designed to deal with the abovementioned constraints.

Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP). AMPQ is an open-standard application layer protocol for message-oriented middleware. It enables an efficient and reliable exchange of messages between different software components and applications. It supports multiple messaging patterns including point-to-point and subscribe and request responses. AMPQ provides features like reliable message delivery, transactional support, and data flow control.

Ensure secure and reliable data exchange for your business and your clients with our protocol-shielded IoT software.

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How can you control an IoT-connected smart device?

There are different ways how to control IoT devices remotely. The specific way depends on the type of the device, its configuration, and its capabilities. Answering the question “How do I control a device in IoT?”, users can manage them physically or remotely. Let’s review both of the approaches in more detail.

Physical control methods

As its name suggests, in this case, you have to physically interact with devices to adjust the required settings. To do so, the following typical options are available:

  • Buttons and switches on the body. Connected gadgets have built-in buttons and switches allowing users to set the configuration tangibly. It’s possible to change modes, turn it on and off, or make other adjustments depending on the model of the device.   
  • Touch screens. Some of the IoT devices are equipped with touch-sensitive screens. Users can manipulate such devices by tapping and swiping the screen.  
  • Dials and knobs. Physical dials and knobs provide users with the ability to make fine-tuned adjustments by rotating them. Commonly applicable for the volume, temperature, and lighting intensity control.

Remote control methods

The ability to control IoT devices remotely is one of the key advantages for its users. And there are a lot of ways to do that which is why every business can choose the best-fit option according to their needs.

Native mobile applications. Mobile applications provide users with intuitive and user-friendly menus allowing them to manage IoT devices from any internet-connected location. Installed application on smartphones or tablets brings all the necessary IoT functionality to users’ fingertips:   

  • On/Off controls
  • Settings adjustment
  • Setting of timers and schedules
  • Device status monitoring
  • Notifications support

Responsive design enables users to make instant changes in IoT devices in real time. Easy, convenient, and secure. 

Web interfaces. This method allows users to control connected devices from the internet browser via computers, tablets, and smartphones. Web interfaces often feature intelligent dashboards or control panels making it easy to manage, configure, and monitor multiple IoT devices simultaneously. 

Remote control of IoT devices across different industries

The Internet of Things helps businesses to increase productivity, reduce costs, and enhance sustainability. Connected devices offer a wide range of solutions which is why they successfully integrate in many industries.

Agriculture

Farmers can increase productivity, improve crop quality, reduce costs, and enhance sustainability with the help of remote IoT devices. Specifically, they can benefit from smart irrigation systems that can track soil moisture with the help of IoT sensors. Farmers can remotely access these sensors via a mobile app or web dashboard and adjust irrigation schedules. Similarly, they can use crop or animal health sensors, IoT sensors for greenhouses, and remote machinery control to monitor and direct the movement and operation of machinery from a distance.

Manufacture

Currently, the manufacturing industry is one of the most prominent investors in IoT technology with an estimated market size of USD 390 billion in 2024. Remote IoT device control provides the manufacturing industry with such advantages as:

  • Asset tracking and monitoring
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Remote equipment control
  • Inventory and supply chain optimization
  • Real-time data analytics

These benefits are available through IoT sensors on equipment, condition and environment monitoring sensors, IoT-enabled machines, radio frequency identification and barcode scanning, and more.

Transportation and logistics

IoT device remote control plays a crucial role in the transportation and logistics industry. IoT devices allow operators to track the location of shipments throughout the supply chain. GPS trackers,  telematics devices, and IoT sensors provide the status of vehicles, containers, and packages. Real-time vehicle tracking systems enable companies to optimize routes which translates into the minimization of fuel usage and saved costs. Fleet management also takes advantage of IoT weight and volume sensors calibrating load distribution for maximum capacity and complying with weight restrictions and regulations.

eCommerce

Utilizing remote IoT device control, the eCommerce industry can streamline operations, improve efficiency, and enhance customer experiences. By tracking users’ activities and behavior on the internet, IoT devices create personalized product recommendations and promotions which significantly increase conversion rates and decrease customer acquisition costs. IoT systems provide automated stock reconciliation, performance and data analytics, traceability of products from manufacturer to customer, and much more.

Retail

The technology helps retailers reduce operational costs and create immersive, personalized customer experiences. Retailers can collect valuable feedback from their customers via touch kiosks or mobile apps. 

Most retailers find inventory management tedious. Inaccurate inventory tracking causes stockouts, overstocking, and shrinkage. IoT solutions like smart shelves can automate inventory visibility, and improve procurement planning. Also, smart warehouses help retailers to store their goods in the required condition. It is possible due to motion, CO2, temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors.

Energy

IoT is a game-changer for the energy sector. IoT revolutionized the way how energy is generated, transmitted, and distributed. It also impacts how energy companies and customers interact with each other through smart metering and real-time billing information. Process automation, grid balancing, load forecasting, and remote assets monitoring are the areas where IoT is very impactful in transforming the energy sector.

Challenges of managing IoT devices remotely

The IoT devices remote control challenges

Despite many and various benefits the IoT technology brings to businesses, there are a lot of challenges in setting up and managing IoT devices as well. That’s why it’s vital to choose a reliable tech vendor that is capable of overcoming the ones.  

Security risks

Since IoT devices regularly collect and process sensitive data, it lures fraudsters and bad actors. To attack the systems, fraudsters attempt to get unauthorized access or hijack devices via malware. Hence, tech vendors have to use state-of-the-art security tech remedies and have solid recovery and backup options to minimize data breach risks.

Interoperability issues

There are plenty of IoT devices manufacturers that use different software and protocols. At the same time, companies have different systems within their IT infrastructure. For this reason, seamless integration, and stitching of internal and external IT environments require substantial tech-savvy expertise from tech vendors. Tech providers need to have technical specialists onboard capable of setting and configuring the software correctly. The providers also have to monitor updates for the systems and install them timely to avoid system failures.

Network connectivity

The functionality of IoT devices requires a stable and reliable internet connection. Besides, connected devices are often placed in locations where traditional networks are unavailable (e.g. underground areas) so they can be reached through cables or Wi-Fi only. Ensuring adequate network bandwidth and its security for all types of connections can be complex.

Data overload and storage

Remote IoT devices collect, process, and store a large volume of data. Especially the ones that perform continuous monitoring with video surveillance. Regulations and corporate policies may require the storage of specific data for quite a long time. Thus, companies have to make sure their tech provider possesses sufficient data-storage capabilities to keep all the required records.

Costs and scalability

Businesses that are eager to launch their own IoT infrastructure face the financial entry threshold barrier. Deployment of the entire IoT ecosystem requires significant initial investments. On top of that, it’s a matter of time before such an infrastructure will need scaling which is also expensive. Therefore, many companies deal with this challenge by hiring external tech vendors who provide services in the IoT industry allowing business owners to speed up the deployment process and save costs.

A-Team Global expertise in IoT 

A-Team Global has been providing comprehensive IoT software development services for more than ten years. The company is integrated into the Total API and Metrix platform making it possible to process any data from different types of sensors. A-Team Global utilizes external backend cloud platforms to add processing power, storage, and services to support edge computing applications. 

At the same time, the company provides staff augmentation services so their STEM talents can organically reinforce businesses’ in-house teams. Thus, the company is capable of developing customized IoT solutions for various business domains. 

A-Team Global is a software development company with deep expertise in edge computing. Python specialists develop efficient edge computing applications that optimize data processing, reduce latency, and enhance connected devices' overall performance. 

Using ASP.NET, .NET Core, and Node.JS as a backend server-side, the company leverages the entire logic tier of software applications. Thus, A-Team Global ensures the efficiency, maintainability, and scalability of software products.

The company has a proven track record of successful IoT projects in such industries as agriculture, logistics, energy, retail, eCommerce, and others.

The bottom line

IoT has dramatically impacted businesses across various industries. All-sized companies implement IoT solutions to increase their operational efficiency, enhance customer experiences, make data-based decisions, and save costs. Data privacy and protection is a top priority for any business, and IoT technology is dealing with this concern using diverse secure protocols like TCP/IP, MQTT, DDS, and others. 

There are many and various types of connected devices and all of them can be controlled differently. While physical management can be considered a for-granted approach, remote IoT device control is rather a smart method. Intelligent remote control of connected devices shifts businesses to the next level. The development of such sophisticated IoT systems requires tech vendors to possess deep tech expertise in the IoT field. At this point, companies should carefully choose their IoT service providers for their projects.

Develop secure, scalable, and user-centric IoT software fast with A-Team Global. Let's discuss your project today.

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