Currently, we are seeing an exponential increase in the IoT Device development projects / request over time from clients in India and oversees. Almost always the initial conversations are very similar – with the client explaining the broad requirements and we asking the client a standard set of questions and details. We are listing down those details and questions to serve as a reference for an IoT device development.
The targeted IoT device could be any one from the following broad categories
Various types of sensors – Industrial, Agricultural, healthcare, home etc.
Asset Trackers – Vehicles, Cargo, Goods, People, Animals etc.
Are we making a go to market product? Or Are we making a prototype?
Mature clients who have past experience with any IoT device development or for that matter any product development have an understanding that a product and prototype are very different, with different objectives. To clients who are new to the whole product development cycle, we explain the difference.
Once decided that we are in fact developing a go to market IoT device, we have the following key questions.
It is crucial to have a target unit cost. Because most aspects of design, size, BoM selection and aesthetics all depend on target pricing. Designing IoT products without a clear unit price target is like shooting without a target.
Very often production volumes are difficult to decide at design time, because it all depends on the market acceptance of the product. Yet, any production volume forecasts are very helpful to make a optimized product for manufacturability according to the volumes.
Size, Shape, aesthetics, branding, operating environmental conditions – designing a go to market without most of these is impossible. In such cases a prototype is most likely the output of the development process.
Once manufactured how long is the product expected to function under the targeted conditions. Although the ideal answer would be – forever. That may end up increasing the cost of the product unnecessarily. This is especially true for battery powered IoT devices.
Sometimes the BoM choices are made based on production schedules. For example, some products could be under continuous production and it is commercially viable to maintain inventory. Whereas in some cases the production happens sporadically or against orders.
Independent lab testing and certifications are a major part of the development cycle for any go to market product. Different products have different testing and certification requirements, that vary with target markets. For example ISO/ IEC standards. These have to be factored in at the development stage.
There are one time use products and there are products that are backed by many years of warranty and service agreements. For products that are backed by such agreements it is critical to consider the service cycle at design time of the product.
Answers to all of these details have a bearing on one aspect or the other of an IoT device development and design. We understand that answers to all these details are not always ready at design time. In such cases we work with the best information available at the time.
However, if the answers to most of these questions are not clear, then its probable that one is not ready for a go to market IoT product development. In such case, we recommend a look at our product prototyping process that can help answer all of these questions.