Drupal and the Internet of Things

Written by: Ana
Published on: 5.6.2018

Unless you’ve been living under the rock these past few years, you might have heard of the term ‘The Internet of Things’. If you’ve always wondered what Internet of Things is and you know what Drupal is, then you’ve stumbled upon the right place. In this post, I’ll take a brief look at what Internet of Things is and how Drupal can be used to take advantage of it.

 

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things or IoT for short is the next big technological leap in the networking world. If you take a look at the past few years, the growth of mobile devices has enabled constant connectivity to the internet for the masses. This helps people to stay in touch with their loved ones as well as stay updated with the world. How can we take this a step further? Could we, perhaps, get connected to our household appliances like the fridge, air conditioning etc? That is what the IoT attempts to do in simple words. This isn’t something that we hear about that may come in future. There are already plenty of examples of connected things all around us that are available to consumers. If you want to see an example, take a look at Google’s Nest.

 

Why Drupal?

Now that’s all well and good, but how does Drupal settle into this equation? Well, before I attempt to answer that, let’s briefly take a look at some of the things that Drupal is well known for:

  • Excellent content management
  • Good data management platform
  • Easy management of users and granular control
  • A good statistics and analysis software

Do you start to see any use of Drupal for IoT yet? Let’s imagine a scenario, say you want to set up a security system in your home that unlocks the door automatically for certain people. Roughly speaking, in order to accomplish this, you will need a place to store known people’s faces, a camera to detect faces, a logic board/controller to match the faces to ones stored in a database and then give the signal to either unlock the door or do nothing. In this scenario, Drupal can be perfectly suited for use as a back-end and the logic. This is, of course, a very crude example and the application is a lot more complex but it helps to get the idea across.

 

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‘Headless’ Drupal

What we should be focusing more on, however, is Drupal’s ‘headless’ concept. See, the concept was originally intended to provide more flexibility for the front-end, but in doing so, it opens up a host of new possibilities. One of these is the ability to be able to use Drupal as a back-end for the connected things. Drupal’s API system allows a lot of interfaces to get connected to Drupal seamlessly, and since the front-end restrictions are eliminated, Drupal can easily work as a standalone back-end server, user logic, data storage system etc.

 

The Future

It is still pretty early in the days for Drupal to be fully implemented with the concept of the Internet of Things, however, people have been playing with this idea since 2015 when the idea was first brought forth in DrupalCon Barcelona. While there have been some simple examples of the idea being used with Drupal, there is still a ways to go before we can see Drupal being fully functional and useful in everyday scenarios.

 

We may not yet be fully able to utilize Drupal for IoT, but we sure can do everything else Drupal! So give us a call or leave a message if you’re looking for someone for building a Drupal solution!