Ways IOT can communicate wirelessly with humans

Right now there are several ways for a connected object to tell humans what their user wants:

1. Twitter

Right now, the most common way is to tweet. If you build your own IOT device it is nice to make it “shout” to twitter what the device is doing. Some examples of these devices are:

  • @steliosm

Electric consumption tweet

  • @MyLilAquaPony
MyLilAquaPony Tweet from APDuino device

MyLilAquaPony Tweet from APDuino device

But twitter is a one to many communication channel, not very useful for a direct “talk” between a connected objected and his human master. Twitter is great way for a machine to broadcast a message to a large open audience. Not to mention that tweeter was not really designed to provide confidentiality of the information.

Some possible uses of IOT and twitter could be municipality services broadcasting to a population, like air quality levels. Although some of these services already exist and the information they publish is the result of combining data from several devices, not just one connected machine.

So while the combination of IOT and twitter is cool, it is hard to find real useful usages. Nevertheless at Carriots we are working to expand our SDK with a tweeter feed to enable such apps.

2. Email

Email can be a very useful communication channel for devices to talk to humans. It’s free and without limitations of data load and number of recipients. It’s fast, although people might take some time to read it. We are sure that many more devices will start emailing in the future.

At Carriots you can build an app that sends an email with whatever content, if the action is triggered by information transmitted from your device. Check this tutorial to learn how.

Where in this simple scenario the alert system uses a private email to warn us about an intruder:

App Schema from our tutorial on how to build a simple Alert System with Arduino and Carriots

3. SMS

SMS where at the beginning of M2M, the only easy way for machines to communicate with other IT systems and with humans. Vendor machines, for example, were the first to integrate M2M modules capable of sending SMS with inventory statuses to automate maintenance and logistics. SMS also have the advantage that they can travel across any telecom network, even internationally. But SMS are extremely expensive (both national and international) and inadequate for data transfer. No wonder SMS are no longer used in IT systems integrating M2M. But SMS can still be very useful for machines to tell urgent information directly to its user. At least until the natural replacement of SMS, the messaging systems integrate with IOT devices. Nevertheless at Carriots our SDK already lets you send SMS from your app.

4. ¿What about messaging systems?

Messaging solutions like WhatsApp are clearly replacing the SMS between humans, for reasons you already know:

WhatsApp record on new years eve 2013

But why are IOT devices not using the messaging services to communicate with humans? At least at Carriots we have not seen any IOT send a “WhatsApp” to a user. The reason is that messaging platforms don’t have, for now, open API where developers can connect their devices to talk to whomever they want. We guess that the reason for this, is the security of the service and the normal use of the platform between humans. Imagine if any robot could send messages without control. That would be “spamers” paradise and user would leave the messaging service.

Messaging platforms need to research ways to integrate with IOT and M2M devices to make this new channel extremely useful. It also could be an income revenue for messaging platforms if they charge a small amount per message from a machine to avoid “spamers”. It would also be very interesting if M2M App Platform could be the integration gateway with these messaging platforms.

Alvaro Everlet
Alvaro Everlet

About Alvaro Everlet

Mr. Everlet is an experienced manager and business oriented technical solution provider. His skills help companies successfully build Internet of Things Solutions that meet both their technical and business goals providing: business modelling, competitive analysis, technology framework definition and implantation, action plans, engineering supervision ending with marketing and sales assessment. Lecturer at IE International Business School. Mr. Everlet earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from The Polytechnic University of Madrid and King Juan Carlos University. Holds also a Master in Business Administration from the Business Management School (EAE) of Madrid.