The estimated number of IoT devices set to be in use worldwide is due to explode depending on the source over the next couple of years.
According to Gartner, the figure is as much as 20.4 bn devices by 2020 with consumer devices representing 63% of this figure.
Many of these will be low-cost devices rushed out by manufacturers to jump on this opportunity. However, low-cost isn’t always a positive especially if little thought has been given to the long-term lifecycle and software strategy of the product.
Fing, a company known for its network security app, considered these factors and more when developing their consumer-facing security toolkit hardware, Fingbox.
For IoT devices, security is a top priority.
Developers need an OS that enables fail-safe, automatic updates to every element of the solution.
With over 40 million downloads and hundreds of thousands of positive reviews, Fing’s eponymous app is the undisputed #1 network scanning tool for iOS and Android. Building on this success, in 2016 Fing launched its first hardware product, Fingbox – a comprehensive network security and troubleshooting device.
When Fing began developing its embedded IoT device, Fingbox, it aimed to make the tool as secure and reliable as possible – which led it to put Ubuntu Core at its heart. The lightweight, transactional OS enables Fing to seamlessly deploy secure updates worldwide, ensuring all users are safe and up to date with the latest features.
Remote IoT devices like Fingbox are inherently high-risk. They will be sold worldwide, connect to people’s home networks, and a single vulnerability could compromise thousands of devices.
Naturally, security is paramount; and doubly so for a device designed to monitor security threats.
“We wanted our device to be future-proof. A tool that customers would use in their homes for years to come. That meant we needed to be able to update the devices frequently, safely, and seamlessly – to apply security fixes and OS upgrades, and add new product features,” Carlo Medas, co-founder of Fing, told Ubuntu.
Fing realised that to make Fingbox a truly compelling choice for customers, the device needed to offer value beyond the initial hardware purchase. The ability to offer additional features through software updates would keep the product useful and competitive well into the future – and could enable Fing to monetise the device post-sale. “We knew that the key to achieving this level of future-proofing would be the OS. We considered using the OS from an existing device produced by our parent company, Domotz, and we found that it lacked certain capabilities. What we needed was a new breed of OS that was tailored to meet the challenges of the IoT space,” adds Carlo.
When it came to managing the many updates that Fing pushes to customers, it was keen to take advantage of Canonical’s IoT app store offering.
The IoT app store provides Fing with its own, personalised and branded repository for storing, managing, and distributing new or updated snaps to its customers.
In the past, software providers have struggled to target specific devices with updates and control what software is presented to a device.
For Fing, the IoT app store solves these issues – eliminating the need for expensive custom-builds.
“In my opinion, an IoT app store is the ideal solution for anyone looking to run Ubuntu Core in production for IoT devices,” Carlo told Ubuntu. “It gives you full control over the product life-cycle and release management for both OS components and your proprietary software snaps.
Today, more than 30,000 homes are protected by Fingbox, and thanks to Canonical’s IoT products – Ubuntu Core, snaps, and the IoT app store – the devices are future-proof for years to come.