It’s a brave new world thanks to IoT. Intelligently connected sensors and devices in everything from cars and refrigerators to cows and bee colonies are providing access to increasing amounts of data. That data is being used to make faster, better and sometimes even life-changing decisions. Considering IoT began humbly with a group of graduate students attempting to monitor the availability and temperature of bottles in a vending machine, the progress to date has been nothing short of revolutionary.
But despite that progress, a number of stark realities have taken hold in the rush to develop commercially viable IoT devices. First and foremost is the fact that IoT development can be difficult. There are lots of constraints that go into developing IoT devices, such as battery life and device reliability. On top of this, wireless connectivity standards that IoT devices rely on have become increasingly complex. And though IoT devices offer great conveniences that can lead to increased sales, the growing numbers of these devices in the world are driving new complexities in regard to their design, test, performance and security.
Fortunately, navigating these complexities is easy with the ABCs of IoT.
A: Application matters
When developing an IoT device or product, the way in which it will be used in its intended environment matters greatly. Different application areas often use different wireless standards and must comply with different regulatory requirements to gain market entry. These standards and regulations often ripple back to the product’s specifications. That’s why understanding the intended application is so critical. Failure to get this step right can lead to a product that does not perform as expected or at all, and that can significantly impact a company’s brand.
B: Be sure to choose design and test solutions wisely
There’s an old saying that says, “garbage in equals garbage out.” Remember this when selecting the right solutions for developing an IoT device, or any electronic device for that matter.
Using a design or test solution just because it is inexpensive and is readily available does not mean it will fit a new use case. For example, the design or test solutions might lack accuracy, support for desired wireless communication standard, wide enough bandwidth or the ability to capture data quickly enough to find potential design flaws. Any one of these things can result in a potentially costly problem when an IoT device enters the market and fails to work as expected. Use of the right design and test solutions throughout the product lifecycle is the only way to ensure IoT products deliver on their promises.
C: Address the five c’s of IoT
Testing IoT devices is one of the biggest challenges for design engineers and device manufacturers. Increasing a product’s chance of success requires that they properly address the five C’s of IoT:
- Connectivity. Ensure that IoT devices connect to other IoT devices, the cloud and the world around them.
- Continuity. Provide IoT devices with extended battery life to do their jobs.
- Compliance. Ensure IoT devices adhere to global regulations.
- Coexistence. Enable IoT devices to work harmoniously in crowded IoT environments.
- Cybersecurity. Safeguard device data from cyberthreats.
The key point to make here is that the engineer and manufacturer can’t just focus on one of these C’s. Each C is equally important and unfortunately, they can sometimes have overlapping objectives. In other words, improving one of the five C’s might help another C, but then again it might not. For example, adding lots of cybersecurity features might seem like a good idea, but adding too many might come at the cost of an edge device’s continuity. Making proper decisions about how to balance the 5 C’s requires solid data and that’s another reason why choosing the right design and test solution is so important.
Without a doubt, IoT is an industry primed for increased growth, with deployments quickly moving from consumer applications to more mission-critical ones such as connected cars, smart healthcare and more. When designing IoT products for these applications, following the ABC’s of IoT is the quickest and easiest way for design engineers and manufacturers to get on the right path to success.
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