The role of the Internet of Things in general business digitalization continues to grow, pushing demand for IoT app development services. IoT is an important technology for automating business processes and increasing the quality of services, made possible by tools such as sensors and smart devices that provide access to real-time data. The IoT industry is actively expanding and is expected by 2027 to bring the number of connected IoT devices worldwide close to 30 billion. Every IoT system consists of two major parts: software and hardware. In this article, we are going to talk about IoT hardware development.
For some systems powered by the Internet of Things, it is possible to use smart devices that are already available in the market. However, there are related challenges and issues, such as potential incompatibility of your app with some ready-made devices, their limited capabilities, the difficulty of adjusting them to your business process, and others. That’s when building your own IoT device, one that will satisfy all your requirements, becomes inevitable.
Key elements of IoT hardware development
A great variety of devices are used in IoT systems. For example, fitness bracelets, smart ovens, and smart beds may seem to have little in common. But it’s possible to define some standard elements that such solutions always rely on.
Data acquisition module
This module is responsible for getting physical signals from various objects and then presenting them in the form of digital signals. After that, computers will be able to process them. This module contains various sensors that can monitor air temperature, light, motion, etc. The main things you need to think about when designing this module are the types and number of sensors that will be required.
Data processing module
The functionality of this module resembles the capabilities of a traditional computer. It can process the data received from network elements, analyze that data, and store it locally. At the stage of IoT product design, it is vital to understand what volume of data it will need to work with and, consequently, the desired processing power.
This model can be installed in the same devices that contain the two above-mentioned modules, or there is an option to use separate devices. They will be responsible exclusively for ensuring communication with the used cloud solutions. The module typically includes wireless communication technology such as WiFi, 4G, or 5G, as well as communication ports like USB or CAN. For building this connection of your devices to the network, you can use one of the available IoT hardware platforms that provide such functionality.
IoT hardware development: Things to do
Though we should highlight that every project is unique and approaches to its realization may vary, some core principles are applicable in every situation. Here are some ideas that will help you better organize your process of IoT hardware design.
Task 1. Clearly set the task to be solved with your IoT product
Today there are a lot of use cases for the Internet of Things in the business world, and all of them require different IoT solutions and different devices. Here are just a couple of examples.
- Preventive maintenance. Thanks to smart sensors, companies can better track the technical state of their equipment and receive notifications when maintenance is required.
- Environmental monitoring. Smart sensors can track factors such as air temperature, humidity, quality of air, and many others. This functionality can be useful in farming, for example. Similar sensors are applied in other industries where it’s vital to maintain particular conditions when transporting or storing goods.
- Asset tracking. With smart devices, companies can always know the exact location of various movable assets, such as vehicles or equipment.
Never forget to consider your IoT solutions from the perspective of the end user. You always need to bear in mind how a person will interact with your products and try to make this interaction as comfortable as possible. Try to think how, when, and why users will turn to your solution, and use the answers to these questions in the process of IoT hardware development.
When you understand what tasks your system will carry out, you’ll know what IoT device (or devices) need to be built. This will also help you prepare the requirements for IoT product design, including those related to its technical characteristics. If you do not have the inside resources to do this, you can establish cooperation with an external team that has relevant expertise and knowledge.
Task 2. Hire the right team
Quite often, companies outsource IoT device development services. Such projects typically require the skills of firmware engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and testing experts.
It’s very important to work with a team that will be open to dialogue. It will be helpful to discuss all the project details with other teams, including marketing and sales experts who may also have their professional vision of an IoT product.
At this stage, you will also need to know what tasks will be performed by the outsourced team (or teams). Who will be responsible for software development? Will everything be built fully from scratch, or will you rely on one of the available ready-made IoT platforms to fulfill some tasks within your system? All of this will help you to better deploy your time and resources.
Task 3. Create a prototype
This process is rather time-consuming, but it bears fruit. IoT development companies often offer such services as well. Thanks to building a product in a special prototyping program and then creating its physical model, you can understand what improvements are required and how full-scale IoT hardware design tasks can be better organized. This will also help you discover the parameters for your project and the most affordable approaches to bringing it to reality. If you have relevant experience, you can use any of the existing IoT hardware platforms (like Particle or Adafruit) for fulfilling this task.
Our team can help you with IoT hardware design and development of innovative software apps. Just share your ideas with us and we will provide the best solution!
Challenges of IoT hardware design
Like any other tech process, IoT hardware development faces a series of challenges you should be aware of. Let’s review several of them:
IoT hardware development teams may face a situation when they need to use components provided by several suppliers. But it can happen that some components won’t be able to function in customized systems.
Difficulties in testing
In-depth testing is a must for creating a product of the highest quality. However, with hardware, this can become a big challenge, as the process should include testing device performance in a variety of conditions, testing of the system consistency, as well as estimating of the device’s compliance with set requirements and security standards.
Need for flexibility
A modern IoT device should be compatible with different networking architectures and environments. That’s why engineers have to provide the desired flexibility and adaptability of their products. It’s also necessary to ensure that changes to the devices can be introduced after the system deployment.
The complexity of software apps
The main difficulties your team can face during and after the IoT product design are related to the constant growth in complexity. Modern IoT development tools allow engineers to build innovative, feature-rich systems. However, the seamless functioning of such solutions requires significantly more powerful and complex devices.
Trends in IoT device development
Requirements and industry standards are always evolving, and IoT hardware design is no exception. What IoT devices are in high demand today?
BLE and wireless sensors
These network elements facilitate the process of data exchange. Today quite a lot of industries, including but not limited to retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and logistics, rely on real-time data transfer. And as a result, such sensors are widely used in IoT systems built for these business domains. These types of sensors have a number of benefits that make them a good choice for modern solutions. They stand out from other similar system components for their long-range transmissions. We’re seeing an expanding marketplace of BLE-powered devices that fully meet modern standards of data exchange.
Telematics video monitoring powered by 5G
The 5G network is known for lower latency and greater bandwidth in comparison to previous generations of mobile networks. And 5G’s gradual adoption is of high importance for the telematics video monitoring field. Thanks to 5G, users can leverage a stable connection to their camera systems without any interruptions. And factors such as weather conditions will have no influence on the quality of the connection.
Objection and facial recognition
Amid the rise of recognition technologies, the popularity of using video for tracking objects and people is skyrocketing. IoT-enabled cameras enriched with such technology can work and demonstrate high visibility even in difficult conditions like fog, snowfall, and rain.
Every IoT development project is different. This means that the choice between using already existing devices or developing custom hardware should be made based on the requirements of the project. While it may, in some cases, be most feasible to use devices already available on the market, in other situations it will be more sensible to invest in IoT hardware design.
If you are looking for the most appropriate ways to build your custom IoT system and need professional help, at Cogniteq, we are always ready to provide you with the required support. Contact us via our website. Let’s discuss the best format for our future cooperation!