Internet of Things (IoT) Prototyping Basics Outlined

The present moment is an excellent time to learn how to create devices that exploit the Internet of Things as a technology. To build an IoT application or device requires that you first create a prototype. This hand-built working model is the test item that will prove the technology and work out the kinks before you attempt to go into production.

Connected technologies are everywhere and, according to Gartner, there will be 26 billion connected devices by 2020. If the present trend continues, every conceivable object will have some interactive sensor and communications capability. Anything that has measurable states that change will become an IoT device.

IoT Prototyping Hardware And Software Requirements

The equipment and software to wire up and connect “things” to the Internet are evolving rapidly and ready to deploy. Apart from the thing itself, you will need hardware, which includes transducers to capture input and output data, a kit that includes the microcontroller, software operating system, and a communications network and data sharing protocol.

A prototype is not intended for the production line; it is a test article that proves the concept. In the development stage of a project, you need to find any faults or areas that need improvement. This early stage of an IoT device is where you source all of the components and integrate them. When it is time to build the production model you will compile your design from the successful prototype and create a bespoke product that begins from scratch.

Designing A Device And Discover The Bottlenecks

With a broad outline in place and the most difficult challenges in hand, do your research. Apply the 80/20 Rule and focus on the most difficult design aspects of the project first.

Any bottlenecks in your process will consume most of your resources and have the steepest learning curve. This approach will force you to make decisions about changes early and save time and expense in the long run.

Experiment to establish how the characteristics of your early design meet your performance objectives. At this point, you may still discover that the final few steps to refine and tune your prototype will take the majority of the effort.

Even when you tackle the unforeseeable challenges, first there will be unforeseen issues that will take more time and money. Had you not dealt with your estimated challenges early, any unexpected problems might compound to overwhelm your efforts entirely.

When you have a design, you can finally build a working device and gather user data. A working model is not a production article, but it should clearly define the parameters and pinch points of its operational service.

After Action IoT Prototype Review

Use the outcomes of the prototype development process and the data you collect to conduct an after action review. Solicit feedback from stakeholders such as your base of customers and vendors. A successful IoT device is one that you can evangelize and spread beyond your initial application. IoT prototyping, if done properly, will turn any mechanical or electrical appliance into a connected asset for your business.

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IT Storyteller and Copywriter
Andrew's current undertaking is big data analytics and AI as well as digital design and branding. He is a contributor to various publications with the focus on emerging technology and digital marketing.