Real Time Communications Featured Article

Cheaper Computing Power Driving Need for Faster Software Development

August 18, 2015

It’s a cliché, but Moore’s Law is driving new fields for silicon and software.  Wearable tech, the Internet of Things (IoT), drones, the connected home, and connected vehicles are all examples of new hardware taking advantage of the latest computer chips.  New platforms need new software and services, with manufacturers recognizing that the company with the hottest, most useful apps wins.

In order to win the app race, developers are as much, if not more, the “customer” even before the first unit is purchased by an end user. It doesn’t matter if you are launching the latest wearable for the consumer market or a home monitoring system, developers need easy tools to quickly build apps and improve them.

The open source movement was the first wave of faster, easier development, enabling a worldwide community of programmers to build the (Linux) operating system(s) and web programming tools.  Servers now run on a cocktail standard of software, with configurations “mixed” to deliver the right “drink” for the needs of the particular services that have to be delivered.

Sitting upon the servers of the world, APIs provide easy access to server functions without having to dig into the guts of a particular package or programming.  And anyone even half way serious about providing APIs and services is also providing software development kits (SDKs) laden tools and example code to accelerate the process between concept and working code.

How fast is this acceleration? I haven’t formally plotted out anything on a graph, but it is fair to say that we’ve run a bell curve of sorts, first starting with very simple software tools to build stand-alone applications to complex tools for building complex software. Software would take weeks to months to build system, rather than writing things from scratch, but the cost for faster development meant buying expensive tools and dedicated development hardware before deploying services.

 Today, we’re at the point where web developers can build complex applications using HTML5 and publicly available APIs, with both time and cost to build applications now driven down to fractions of what they would have cost several years ago.  You don’t need to know Python, or C, or Java, or the programmer’s time to quickly build apps in many use cases.

WebRTC and IoT advocates brag that, with the proper API tools, they can build apps in minutes. For example, I’m at IoT Evolution in Las Vegas this week watching Systech demonstrate build an IoT app for a refrigerator monitoring solution in under 10 minutes, using a graphical UI and scripting language.  GENBAND’s Kandy platform can add voice to an existing web page in under 5 minutes using WebRTC.

APIs open up new opportunities for companies by providing value-added resellers, developers, and end-users the ability to build their own apps, rather than having to wait for the company to provide updated features or a value-added resource pack.  Companies now use APIs to create self-sustaining ecosystems for developers and end-users, enabling organic growth without having to spend internal resources.  Instead, users help to grow applications and ultimately sales.

Even the drone community is jumping onto the app bandwagon. DJI, the world’s largest manufacturer of drones, provides a full-blown developer’s arena, running a Github-based SDK and offering APIs for programmers that want to build apps around their quad copters and other flying camera platforms.

I don’t know what the next “hot device” will be, but I’m sure it will be enabled by the ever-cheaper, more powerful computing technologies and come packaged with APIs and SDKs to enable everyone from businesses to the home hobbyist to build new applications and quickly customize the use of the product as they need. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Article comments powered by Disqus

  Subscribe here for RTCW eNews