In the era of IoT, people are surrounded by different smart devices like watches, speakers, kettles, and much more. But how to develop an IoT device? What programming language to use when you come up with an idea for a new smart thing and implement it in the best way? That is not so easy to decide. Many simply abandon this idea due to the lack of knowledge in programming and hardware or because of the complex development process. But those who decide to carry on with their idea, frequently use PHP for IoT device development, despite all the hate for PHP. Let’s try to figure out if PHP and IoT really go great together.
Introduction to PHP
PHP (also known as Hypertext Preprocessor) is an open-source, general-purpose programming language. PHP is specifically designed for web development, and its code can be embedded directly into HTML. Although PHP is primarily designed to work in a web server environment, its scope is not limited to this.
PHP is also extremely easy to learn, but at the same time, it satisfies the demands of professional programmers. Don’t be alarmed by the long list of PHP features. You can get started quickly, and within a few hours, you’ll already create simple PHP scripts.
The main characteristic of the PHP programming language is its interpretability. For instance, Java is first compiled, then launched into work. As for PHP, it is created in the process of accessing it. It means that when the user opens a website, a request is sent to the server, and at this very time, the PHP code is compiled. In addition, each script is compiled in real time, and then executed.
Due to this, PHP is considered a very flexible language. In the mentioned Java, the developer introduces the class name only once, and it does not change. PHP, unlike Java, is compiled in runtime, so it is possible to substitute any class name from a variable.
Another important feature of PHP is safety. Its security mechanisms are implemented and managed by administrators. With proper PHP settings, it ensures maximum freedom of action and security. Besides, PHP can operate in safe mode, which limits the possibilities for users to use PHP in a number of ways.
The standard set of PHP features includes a number of strong encryption mechanisms. And it is also compatible with many third-party applications, making it easy to integrate with secure e-commerce technologies.
Introduction to the Internet of Things (IoT)
Today, the Internet consists of thousands of corporate, scientific, governmental, and home computer networks. Networks of different architectures and topologies are combined using the IP protocol. Each member of the Network (or group of participants) is assigned an IP address, permanent or temporary (dynamic).
Similarly, the Internet of things today consists of many loosely interconnected networks, each of which solves its own problem. For example, in an office building, several networks can be deployed at once: controlling air conditioners, heating systems, lighting, security, etc. These networks can work according to different standards, and combining them into one network is a non-trivial task.
The Internet of Things is based on different technologies:
Means of identification. Each object of the physical world participating in the Internet of things, even if not connected to the network, should still have a unique identifier.
Measuring. The task of measuring instruments is to ensure the conversion of information about the external environment into data suitable for transmission to processing means. It can be either separate temperature, light, etc. sensors, or complex measuring mechanisms.
Means of data transmission. For data transfer, any of the existing technologies can be used. In the case of wireless networks, special attention is paid to improving the reliability of data transmission.
Data processing tools. The main part of the Internet of things is not sensors and data transmission tools, but cloud systems that provide high bandwidth and can quickly respond to certain situations.
Actuators. These are devices capable of converting digital electrical signals from information networks into actions. For example, to turn on the heating system in a house via a smartphone, it must have an appropriate device.
At the current stage of technological development, the Internet of things is being actively introduced not globally, but within companies involved in the production of goods, energy, transportation, etc. – where new technologies are expected to increase productivity and competitiveness. The complexity of scaling this experience is based on the necessity to integrate many systems from different suppliers into a single whole and establish their coordinated work.
How PHP And IoT Work Together
We have established that PHP is mostly used to design web pages for a website. In that scenario, it works to script the language on the website, combine all the images needed for website creation, and develop a responsive web design service. Besides, PHP ensures a seamless user experience thanks to user interface design.
On a large scale, the Internet of Things is just an upgrade of tools and machines to take technology to the next level. This field emerges, allowing machines to do many things automatically. Using PHP in custom web development allows providing users with a platform that helps make changes according to their requirements and needs. Besides, the user is able to keep in touch with their device despite the location, just with the help of a mobile device.
What About PHPoC?
Now, let’s move to a great solution for IoT that is closely connected to PHP. It’s implemented in the form of a hardware platform called PHPoC, which provides everything you need to create things related to the Internet in just a few steps.
PHPoC (PHP on Chip) is a programming language and hardware IoT platform created in the Republic of Korea. The platform includes a microcontroller with a built-in interpreter of the PHP programming language. Additionally, the platform includes servers and expansion cards for PHPoC and for popular microcontrollers, for example, Arduino Uno or Arduino Mega. PHPoC allows you to make prototypes of devices for the Internet of things with the ability to access the Internet (Wi-Fi / Ethernet). And, of course, as the name implies, all this is done using the PHP language.
But how does it work? To work with boards, you need to take only two steps:
- Write a script in PHP and upload it to PHPoC
PHPoc platform is used for various needs, including:
- Sensors monitoring
- Peripheral device management
- Control of relays, servos, stepper motors
- Full duplex communication via WebSocket
- Email sending
- Work with databases
- USB debugging
Most projects create a web-based interface for controlling smart devices using PHPoC and the PHP programming language. It is also worth noting that PHPoC boards have a real-time clock (RTC). It is especially convenient in cases of synchronization of controllers with other devices.
PHP syntax for the platform is almost identical to classic PHP, but adapted for the embedded system. PHPoC added new functions for interacting with various devices: UART, I2C, SPI, ADC, TIMER / COUNTER, RTC, and so on.
PHPoC also contains basic interfaces for interacting with various sensors and devices, network interfaces of a wired and wireless LAN. Besides, it supports many Internet protocols for creating secure IoT devices.
The creators distinguish three main components for their platform:
Hardware. This includes various interfaces and network protocols.
Firmware. Device driver, network core, web server and PHPoC interpreter.
PHPoC scripts (User Files). Developed programs are written to the board.
The creators of IoT devices write the program (script) and upload it to PHPoC in the form of .php extension. Additionally, they indicate what files are to run in the system cycle and what files are to run in response to HTTP requests.
The Internet of Things keeps gaining popularity in today’s world of technologies. The applications are getting better, and the AI and machine learning utilization is enhanced day by day. As soon as these machines are able to make more effective and impactful decisions, the more success it will bring to the technology field.
PHP and IoT seem to have a great future together. And despite all the negative comments towards PHP, it’s scripted language and smart device of IoT can create the latest level devices together.