If there is one trend that is influencing nearly every aspect of our lives, it’s the Internet of Things. Almost everything that we use every day, at home and at work, and even in our vehicles, is connected to the internet in some way, with the intent of helping us get more from our devices and make even the simplest tasks easier and more efficient.
Despite the ubiquity of connectivity, though, there are still some challenges and considerations inherent in the process of developing new products. It’s not as simple as saying “Let’s connect this product to the internet!” and adding the necessary technology and calling it a day. There are important considerations that go into the development of an IoT product — so much so, that the IoT has actually significantly changed the product development process itself.
Changing the Engineering Process
Today’s products are no longer simple devices comprised of basic mechanical and electrical components. Connectivity requires a complex combination of hardware and software, connected by sensors, microprocessors, an analog to digital converter to convert data captured by the sensors, and storage — all designed to work together as a seamless system that allows you to access the contents of your refrigerator from the supermarket or turn on the air conditioner on your way home from work.
This connectivity has led to a significant change in the overall process of engineering. The traditional “end-to-end” process of product development, in which engineers bring products to life from design requirements and only receive feedback in the form of sales, has been replaced by a continuous engineering process in which product designers are expected to apply the knowledge gained from analyzing the data produced by their designs to continuously refine and improve their products to better meet customer expectations. The result is that IoT projects are never really “done,” but rather in a constant state of improvement, making the IoT product development process more complex than in the past.
Answering the Important Questions
Another major change brought about by the IoT is the need to ask new questions during the product development process. For example:
Do we need to connect this product at all? Many companies assume that they need to connect everything, but that’s not always the case. It’s just as important to ask why a product is being connected as it is to ask how it’s being connected and what it will do.
How will we handle security? IoT security is a major issue that cannot be ignored, and considering the security of a product is often a new realm for product designers.
How will the product be designed to ensure functionality along with the connectivity? IoT product design requires bringing both design and technical points of view together to ensure that the end result works the way that it should.
How will the product work in the future? Technology moves fast, and you want to ensure that your product will continue to work in the future, and be able to receive important updates. When designing your project, does it have the capacity to be “future proof?”
Product design is constantly changing, and the IoT is just one factor that’s changing the way we think about the design and development of new products. However, it represents a major shift in the process, and a business that isn’t prepared to address these important issues is likely to struggle to remain competitive in the crowded IoT market.
Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content online. With almost two years of experience in blogging, Rowe has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing remarkable content for all audiences.
Released: January 8, 2017, 10:10 am