How to Create Web Dashboards for IoT Devices
In an age of information overload, we can easily overlook important things or miss valuable insights. Living in the era of the Internet of Things, we are dealing not only with billions of connected devices, but also with a huge amount of generated information. Regardless of your IoT application, the need to control, structure and process this data so that it is turned into valuable information is integral to any system. In the IoT ecosystem, a single command center or web-based dashboard performs these tasks and processes the collected data to meet different business needs.
So, we would like to dedicate this article to the topic of IoT dashboards and their importance in IoT systems. Together, we will list the main features, name the appropriate technology stack, and understand how to properly design custom dashboards for IoT devices.
So, let's get to it.
How Can an IoT Dashboard Help You?
Now, you probably have an idea of the main concept of an IoT dashboard. An IoT dashboard is a web-based software tool that allows you to organize, display and manage the collected data transmitted by all the devices in your ecosystem. In other words, the IoT dashboard remotely communicates with other devices, sorts and displays historical and real-time data in an easy-to-read format. The IoT control panel can achieve different goals and be useful for many reasons.
The first of them is the capability to collect data from multiple connected devices in real-time. With the help of IoT dashboards, users and operators can review and analyze incoming information immediately and update it as soon as new data arrives.
Secondly, processes can be monitored remotely. In terms of industrial IoT applications, this means controlling specific assets, accessing and managing production processes, monitoring machinery state, etc. As a result, the mentioned features will help to minimize downtime, decrease operational costs and reduce product failure rates. In the case of the use of IoT in healthcare, doctors can intervene in a patient's treatment schedule and prescribe medications, control medication intake, monitor changes in their health condition without meeting the patient in person.
The third reason for creating an IoT dashboard is to process this information with simple and advanced data analysis capabilities. Turning vast amounts of collected data into effective and valuable insights is essential. Even basic information about the condition of the equipment, such as minimum, maximum or average condition, is important for processing in many industries. A more complex level of IoT analytics dashboard will help to identify statistical trends, use this data for preventative failure analysis, and ultimately get the most accurate information and correlations from datasets.
One more important reason to value dashboards for IoT devices is an increase in customer value based on the information gathered. Along with offering customers the data on your specific dashboard, you can increase your software value, create more personalized offers and change the way you interact. In addition, this feature will help guide the product development process as you learn how customers are using IoT devices.
Must-have IoT Dashboards Features
Depending on whether you choose a ready made platform or build an IoT dashboard from scratch, the option is always based on the input, business and technical requirements. In the case of a ready-made platform, it is important to make the right choice in order to avoid unnecessary costs. If you are building your own control panel from scratch, you will need a highly skilled team and significant investment.
So, after listing the rationale for the need for IoT dashboards, we can now highlight three essential features of IoT dashboards. This basic set must be taken into account in any situation.
Depending on the goals you need to fulfill and the data you need to visualize, the components for your unique case may vary. Typically, the primary goal of any IoT device in a connected environment is the ability to collect data. For industrial use, the data you may need to view and store may include monitoring of telemetry data such as temperature, pressure, acceleration, motion, proximity, humidity, and so forth.
Also, sometimes there is a need for extra modules and additional features. For example, an alert system - to notify users when a sensor reading or data submission is complete or exceeds a threshold.
After your smart sensors obtain the required data and transmit it to a database store, the next step is to visualize it in a user-friendly format. When converting the collected data into effective visualizations, you must take care of the format in which you display it. There are many common ways of visual data representations for IoT dashboards, such as geographical maps, statistical lists, line and pie charts, line graphs and histograms, gauges, and heat maps.
This component is the main part of any IoT panel. The performance of your dashboard for IoT applications will largely depend on this feature. To understand which method best suits your goals, test several methods with your users. Before that, you should spend valuable time on designing your format. Don’t forget to consider colors and size attributes of visual data representation to help your viewer understand critical information and navigate a complex IoT dashboard easily.
Real-time data processing
With the aforementioned components in mind, the next feature to take care of is real-time data processing. In the transportation and healthcare industries, it is vital to send and receive this data in real-time. Dynamically updated data visualizations are more difficult than building just static visualizations. A stable connection, dynamic database, professional knowledge, and a lot of resources are required to properly achieve these goals. In any case, most IoT applications are actively sending a lot of data. Thus, this aspect must be in place with other components.
IoT Dashboard Connections & Networks
When it comes to understanding the technical aspects of creating IoT dashboards, note an IoT system has three layers:
There are four connection types of data transmission between these three layers:
Device to device (direct contact between IoT devices);
Device to Gateway (the data transfers between a sensor and an IoT gateway);
Gateway to data systems (database);
Between data systems.
Further, a specific network is required to support these connections. Different industries use a particular type of network, depending on their business goals and the scale of the ecosystem. Anyway, check out the main types of networks below:
It is applied mostly in the military, biometric, agricultural, and other nanotechnology areas. This network is used when working with microchips. A specific set of small devices or sensors sense and compute data and then transfer it to the database;
NFC (Near-Field Communication);
In the case of identity documents, contactless systems, payment systems, and key cards, this low-speed network is designed to connect devices within 4 cm of each other.
A BAN (body area network);
This type of network is widely used to connect wearable devices or smart sensors embedded under the skin, known as implants, or attached anywhere on the body.
A PAN (personal area network);
A network that is used to connect devices within several rooms.
A LAN (local area network);
A network that functions within one building.
A CAN (corporate area network);
The network maintains connectivity between devices and connects smaller networks located in a hospital, university, or in a specific enterprise.
A MAN (metropolitan area network);
This network is designed to cover small towns or certain metropolitan areas. It is based on microwave transmission technology and is linked to smart city applications.
A WAN (wide area network);
This widest network can be used in more than one city over a large geographic area and can include smaller networks such as LAN and MAN.
The next step when creating an IoT dashboard is to select the specific protocol for data transmission between devices and applications.
MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport) is the most popular lightweight protocol that functions on top of TCP/IP and is used for sending data from devices to applications and middleware. This protocol includes three components: subscriber, publisher, and broker. A publisher collects the data and sends it to a subscriber. MQTT is used for small, low-memory, and cheap devices.
DDS (Data Distribution Service) protocol enables real-time, high performance, and machine-to-machine communication between numerous components in more scalable IoT monitoring systems. It is often used in cloud computing and can be deployed in low-footprint devices.
AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol) is an international standard messaging protocol for middleware environments.
Bluetooth is a well-known short-range communication technology built into most smartphones, mobile and wearable devices, and smart clothing.
How to Choose Right Platform
There are often some misunderstandings when choosing the right IoT solution. Until now, the IoT platforms and IoT dashboards have been differentiated by the complexity of functionalities. As such, the IoT platform is known to have more advanced features that allow you to run tests, store data, deploy device updates, manage device inventory, and more. In turn, an IoT dashboard is considered to be a basic IoT platform to display data and control devices.
While some IoT platforms are standard dashboards that only allow you to view data, the IoT market is full of different types of platforms with different functionality options. It means both an IoT platform and a dashboard can have a lot of capabilities or operate at a simple administrative level.
So, the only difficulty you may come across is whether you are going to develop your own IoT dashboard from scratch or build your service on a third-party platform.
Let’s move to the next section of our article to discuss the main pros and cons of each option.
Ready Made vs Custom Solutions
A ready-made solution is a good choice if you don’t require a complex architecture that consists of many features, multiple devices working with different protocols and data. Moreover, if your budget and time are limited, a ready-made platform is more convenient than building your own IoT dashboards. In this case, you can buy a ready option and save a lot on development time.
The only important thing is to choose wisely, as transitioning to another platform may cost a fortune. Besides, ready-made platforms are not always customizable. You just have to live with the existing developed functions of the software.
For more complex cases, it is better to build a custom web IoT dashboard that suits your own needs. That usually means that you will need to start a separate development process. This process will require more time and a highly skilled development team. When designing your architecture, you will need to select the appropriate technologies, connection protocols, devices and implement specific features depending on the requirements of your environment.
Either way, despite the complexity and effort required to build your software tool, you will create an effective solution that meets your business needs correspondingly. Your own IoT dashboard will be compatible with the whole IoT ecosystem.
After evaluating the detailed list of pros and cons for both options, it will be easier for you to ponder the next steps. Regardless of which solution you choose, consider all aspects in the long run.
Examples of IoT Dashboards
At LANARS, we have positive experience in developing various solutions paired with IoT technology. One example of such a case was our client's request to create an Internet-connected system for remote monitoring of industrial fluids. Besides the many components of this sophisticated IIoT solution, this system also has a dashboard. In this case, the industrial IoT dashboard is a customizable dashboard capable of real-time remote coolant tank monitoring.
With this IoT dashboard, administrators can view equipment status and visualize data in the form of diagrams. It has remote access to sensor data and analytical records. It provides data transmission to the control unit and platform to manage data, allows data processing and making fluid replacement time predictions.
As a result, our hardware and software manufacturers managed to make highly compatible solutions with other IoT systems from scratch, where all the specific requirements of this field were taken into account.
Moreover, there are other popular examples of IoT dashboards. You may be familiar with various scooter sharing apps where this panel shows scooter locations, allows you to track battery power, and more. It is often accompanied by an analytical tool showing rents, number of users, financial data, etc.
So, if you are looking for the perfect display solution that matches your brand and suits your visual tastes, we are ready to offer our services.
Technology Stack for IoT Dashboard
Leading software companies today are using a variety of technologies to build IoT applications. This often depends on the company, the services it provides, and the experience it has. Among the most used well-known technologies, there are platforms from Google (Google Cloud, IoT Core), IBM (IBM Cloud, Watson IoT platform), Microsoft (Microsoft Azure, Power BI), and Amazon (AWS, AWS IoT Platform).
In the case mentioned above, we have integrated specific React frameworks with Node.js for the back-end.
All in all, the IoT environment stands out, due to the number of benefits it generates. Hard to argue with that. The most valuable feature is real-time data collection. So, when you start thinking about how to effectively display, organize, and manage this data remotely, we suggest creating an IoT dashboard. This tool is valuable both for your clients and for everyone involved in the business process.
If you need to create a simple IoT dashboard for common use cases, there are many off-the-shelf platforms in the IoT market today. If you are betting on high compatibility, more customization options, you need a solution with your design and rights, consider creating your own IoT dashboard that suits your unique case.
With our vast experience in the IoT field, this won't be a daunting task. In any case, we will be happy to answer all your questions and help you make the right decision.
The IoT dashboard is a web-based software tool for visualizing, displaying, and managing valuable data collected and transmitted by a network of connected devices in the IoT ecosystem.
While the options you choose will depend on your business and technical requirements, the must-have functionality of any IoT dashboard should include real-time data collection, visualization, and processing capabilities.
We recommend you choose the right solution based on your business goals, budget and resources. Then consider the long-term advantages and disadvantages of each option. As a reminder, scroll up to read again the main differences between ready-made and custom solutions.
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