With the rapid growth of the Internet of Things showing no signs of slowing down, it’s no surprise that many companies want to get in on the action. However, successfully launching an IoT product requires a bit more planning and development than simply adding some sensors and microcontrollers to existing technology and connecting them to an app or the internet. For starters, it’s important to consider why you want to connect a device to the internet and the benefit to users, since not everything that can be connected should be connected. But even beyond that, there are some important factors that, if left to chance, could make your first foray into the IoT a disaster.
Tip #1: Leverage Existing Technology
While you want to create an IoT device that offers advantages over other existing devices, that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. In fact, the typical IoT device uses pre-assembled 16-bit processor boards and sensors, which are then programmed by developers using existing development environments to configure and code the device. No matter what type of device you are working on, there are existing tools available that can take a lot of the guesswork out of the process and speed up the time to market.
Tip #2: Consider Scaling, Security, and Service
Creating a one-off IoT device is actually rather simple, especially when you are only asking the device to do one thing. However, when you are creating a consumer device, it’s important to think in terms of scale, and understand the intricacies of the development process.
Scale is important because you may never know exactly how many devices will be connecting to the application server at any given time. You might have 10 devices today, 100 tomorrow, and 1,000 next week, so it’s important that you design your application to handle those load fluctuations without affecting user experience. This is complicated by the lack of consistency among users and devices; connections take place over any number of transport layer and protocols, and use a wide array of configuration options while also working on small processors with limited memory. Again, using existing technology and platforms, hosting your application in geographically diverse data centers
Security is another key concern for IoT development. In the wake of several major cyberattacks, including IoT-enabled service disruptions of major internet service providers and public transportation systems, as well as the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, the need to treat IoT devices like any other computer and protect it has grown more urgent. While more device vendors are working on embedding security solutions directly into the hardware, these precautions are proving inadequate to address all threats. As you develop devices, you must be concerned with security engineering, on the hardware, software, and endpoint security fronts.
Tip #3: Work With the Right Talent
IoT development is a team effort; rarely will you find a single person responsible for hardware development as well as device programming, server programming, and app development. Typically, these tasks are handled by experienced individuals who work together as a team to create a seamless user experience.
With that in mind, companies working on IoT development are looking for specific skillsets among developers and engineers. As you begin to assemble your team and develop your device, keep in mind the following high-demand skills:
- Machine learning. This is the most in-demand skill among companies hiring for the IoT, and with good reason. IoT devices aren’t only good for collecting data; users expect to glean insights from analyzing the data as well. Experts in machine learning are in demand to write algorithms that will make sense of the data collected by IoT devices to create smarter applications.
- Security infrastructure and engineering. Again, protecting user privacy and security is of paramount importance, and professionals with these skills are in high demand.
- Electrical engineering. Electrical engineers are in demand to assist with embedded device development.
- Coding and programming. While most IoT developers are using integrated development platforms and other coding tools, knowledge of coding languages and programming are still vital, especially given the cross-platform nature of the IoT.
These are just some of the skillsets required for a successful IoT device development process. So, while it is possible to create a simple device with an existing kit, to create a truly useful and successful product, it’s likely that you will need to invest considerable resources of time and money into the process – and understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into and what the payoff will be.