13 Вересня, 2022 від Alexey Krol

5 Steps to IoT Devices Development

5 Steps to IoT Devices Development
technology

The Internet of Things (IoT) opens up many opportunities across different industries and has strong development potential for the upcoming years. 83% of organizations report optimized performance and improved workflow after the IoT implementation, a comprehensive IoT statistics from DataPot says. 

The trend for building IoT devices found its manifestation in some specialized solutions, such as Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Consumer Internet of Things (CIoT), and more. 

In this article, our WebbyLab team shares its experience on how to develop an IoT device that is cost-effective, stable, and flexible. We’ll also describe in detail our recent case for MyBox – a universal cloud-based software solution for managing and maintaining EV Charging stations. 

As a part of our discussion, you’ll find out the key features of IoT, its requirements, and major challenges you may face when creating hardware for the target project.

IoT Devices: Market Overview

To answer the question of whether you should build an IoT hardware platform or an IoT device today, the first thing to study is the market trends and perspectives for IoT solutions. 

According to the trend analysis by Statista, global spending in 2015 and 2020 has increased by two to four times on average. Moreover, the forecast spending for 2022 is to finally hit $1 trillion (FinleyUSA data), with the highest shares in the Asia Pacific and North America regions. 

As for the revenue, the IoT market is currently worth $389 billion. However, by 2030 it is projected to surpass $1 trillion (Transforma Insights), with the most significant revenue segments in consumer media, internet devices, and connected vehicles. 

Key Features of IoT Devices 

Before you start planning how to build your own IoT device, it’s essential to understand the basic features it should include. Thus, you’ll have a better idea of the target project’s cost estimation and delivery time. Moreover, it will provide you with highlights on what to look for when choosing between the teams of dedicated IoT developers. 

Some capabilities to consider include:

  • Data-based Processes (Acquisition, Control, Processing, and Storage): for rapid performance and improved productivity. 
  • Connectivity & Flexibility: to easily connect with the cross-domain technologies (cloud computing, AI, blockchain, etc.) and change according to the environment changes and current requirements. 
  • Security Concerns: ensuring stable data manipulation and storage while preventing possible breaches.
  • Power Management: enabling autonomous operation and energy consumption efficiency

What Ready-Made Hardware is Used for Prototyping IoT Projects

IoT prototyping also implies using a diverse number of tools in progress. This hardware can significantly accelerate the delivery time, reduce the development costs and optimize the workflow. 

In the table below, you’ll find some of the most common off-the-shelf hardware applied today, their functionality, and examples. 

Hardware CategoryPurpose of UseHardware Example
Microcontroller development boards (SoC)The MCU operates smart devices by providing processing power, memory, and input/output peripherals.NodeMCU – most popular ESP32 dev board for prototyping in IoT.
Single board computers (SBCs)SBCs’ performance is native to a regular PC, which in IoT enables effective and quick testing of the IoT design. For instance, it allows attaching peripheral devices, testing hardware and software compatibility, prototype performance etc.RaspberryPi – the leading SBC for prototyping in IoT.

What Are the Core IoT Hardware Requirements?

Considering how to build an IoT device doesn’t solely rely on planning the core features and development tools required. To remain competitive, any IoT device must comply with the basic requirements for this hardware:

  • Security requirements. By leveraging the security by design approach, you ensure that your IoT device will resist vulnerabilities, cyber-attacks, data theft, and other risks.
  • Data processing and storage requirements. A number of connected sensors, the resolution of captured data, and the data sampling rate influence the flow of data, and, therefore, data processing and storage requirements. 
  • Connectivity requirements. Smart devices rely on networks to communicate with gateways, applications, servers, routers, and other IoT gadgets, which enables them to perform the functions they were designed for. 
  • Power requirements. Big data processing and the add-on functionality require larger power consumption, which can negatively impact the user experience and the device’s intended purpose. 
  • Physical device design requirements. That includes the size and appearance of the device as well as special requirements, linked to the environmental conditions. 
  • Cost requirements. Developers should find the most cost-effective, long-term solution for IoT hardware development without sacrificing its quality. 

5 Basic Aspects of IoT Devices Development

Basically, you need to take five steps to build your IoT device. Let’s study this process, using our Access Control System (ACS) project as an example.

#1 Conduct Competitive Research

The first thing to consider during the development of IoT devices is profoundly researching similar solutions already available on the market. You can do this in two steps:

  • Review user guides for them 
  • Purchase the devices to test the performance in practice and define the weak and strong sides 

During the research stage of our ACS project, we identified two main groups of controlled devices: electric locks (electric bolts or latches) and electric drives for opening gates or removing barriers. The main difference between them was that the latter required a relay to control. 

Also, we discovered that, aside from the controlled devices, the ACS network controller had to interact with various tag readers and exit buttons.

#2 Define Functional Requirements

Based on the results of the research, you need to create a list of functional requirements. They describe how your device will operate, how it will coordinate with other devices, how it will connect to a network, etc. 

At this stage of our ACS project, we came up with the controller functionality requirements. It had to support:

  • gate or barrier drives as well as electric locks (including various types of locks)
  • any tag readers utilizing the Wiegand protocol
  • backup communication with a cloud server
  • exit buttons, open and close sensors for doors and gates or barriers
  • autonomous work in case of internet connection loss

#3 Create a Proof of Concept

At this stage, you need to test your ideas using the first version of the device with the most essential functionality.

In our case, we created the PoC with the help of the NodeMCU Dev Board and breadboard. Our goals were to study the features of electric lock controlling and automation drive controlling. We also wanted to find out the peculiarities of working with access tag readers and choose the optimal power supply for the controller.

#4 Start Prototyping

The previous steps prepare the ground for creating a ready-made device that meets customer’s demands. During our ACS project, we built several iterations of prototypes.

On the photo below, right to left:

1. Proof of Concept
2. Prototype 1

3. Prototype 2

4. Prototype 3

5. Prototype 4

6. Production-ready 1

7. Production-ready 2

8. Production-ready 3

9. Production-ready 4

10. Production-ready 4

The field tests revealed some pitfalls that were hard to anticipate. They concerned controller’s reactions to possible power surges, wiring convenience, the number and location of mounting holes on the board, etc.

#5 Launch the Production of the First Batch of Device

Now, it’s time to move to mass device production. By dedicating a significant amount of time and resources to testing, you’ll avoid costly mistakes in the future. 

Having received a working ACS controller on a breadboard, we manufactured 50 devices. Due to the throughout prototype testing, the entire batch was deployed with zero issues. It’s worth mentioning that the production-ready device can further be altered according to your needs. For example, the ACS we helped to launch underwent numerous changes long after: we added new functionality such as GSM Modules, Power over Ethernet ports and RS-485 bus communication method:

  • GSM Modules can serve as an alternative way for a device to establish a connection in areas without Wi-Fi and Internet coverage.
  • Power over Ethernet ports allowed us to improve the user experience and reduce the costs of running the cables. Thus, thanks to PoE ports, we connected the device to the network and ensured its easy access to the power source.
  • RS-485 bus serves as an alternative communication method as its development turned out to be more cost-efficient than the bringing new wire lines.

Mistakes Made During The Development of IoT Devices

Speed and responsiveness are the essential parameters are essential for developing IoT devices. However, in pursuit of competition and innovations, companies tend to overlook the aspects that can significantly hit the hardware’s performance and the final product.

Let’s now review the typical problems for building the Internet of Things hardware for your project. 

Underestimated IoT Infrastructure

Companies mainly focus on software development, often underestimating the technology it’ll be hosted on. Nevertheless, the hardware, software, and connectivity need to be tightly worked together to deliver the desired results for any IoT device. 

Overlooked Flexibility & Scalability

It’s vital to scale up the IoT hardware manufacturing to guarantee business growth.. However, make sure your IoT solution can meet the emerging customer and market needs. This way, you can remain competitive in the long term. 

Inefficient IoT Security

According to Symantec’s report, routers act as a gateway for IoT attacks in 3 out of four cases. Similar to other smart devices, IoT devices leverage various data to and from cloud apps at light speed, which might easily fall victim to hackers.

Skipped Certification Processes

Certification is another essential point to consider once you’ve decided to build IoT devices, which can save months of development time and money if applied early. Usually, the options you’ll need include PTCRB, FCC, CE, IC, GCF, and RoHS certificates. 

Rushed Manufacturing & Testing Phases

Both processes are a must for preparing your IoT device for entering the market. They’re responsible for efficient time and cost investments, meeting regulatory and compliance requirements, and many other aspects related to supply chain management. 

How Much Does It Cost to Develop an IoT Device?

The costs required to launch an MVP of IoT hardware solution and its overall development time are based on the project’s complexity, deadlines and technologies involved. 

To help formulate more explicit project expectations, below, we’ve analyzed both aspects in a little bit more depth:

It’s required up to 3 months to build an IoT device hardware from scratch. The development time can be reduced to at least one month if there is already some existing groundwork or ready-made materials that can come in handy in the process.

The pricing for the Internet of Things hardware creation has hardly any one-size-fits all approach. It highly depends on the scope of work to be done. A small IoT project with a simple device and the results of some groundwork available will require $5,000-10,000. However, the budget for a more complex project such as the one we described above will start at $25,000.

Why Develop IoT Devices with WebbyLab

By leveraging the experience of WebbyLab, you can access a large pool of tech talents with years of experience and deep knowledge in IoT development. Regardless of the project’s complexity and budget, our team is ready to deliver the most efficient IoT solution for your business. 

In our portfolio, we’ve showcased our expertise on how to create a prototype and build IoT devices for various projects and the challenges tackled within each of those. 

One of the recent cases which we’ve worked on was a software solution for MyBox. This company from Eastern Europe manufactures and supplies EV charging stations. They required a cloud management system to support thousands of private and public EV Chargers from various vendors. It had to be accompanied by end-user mobile apps.

To substantially reduce the time to market, we successfully reused a large part of the 2Smart Cloud platform`s functionality. Also, we developed a set of custom features such as advanced user permission management, additional security measures, and data visualizations.

Moreover, we created flexible firmware for the ESP-C3 MCU controlling the chargers to ensure easy scaling and support. On top of it, end-users got comprehensive and modern mobile applications.

Are you already interested? Feel free to contact us anytime and get a detailed estimation for your IoT project today!

Get Started With Your IoT Hardware Development Project

Now that you know all the specifics of the step-by-step development of an IoT device, and have a better understanding of how to plan your IoT hardware project from scratch. Despite the stereotypes of its considerable pricing and various difficulties you can face, it’s pretty easy to create and launch the industry-specific IoT solution for any business. 

Sure, getting qualified assistance within the target scope is of the essence. Our experts are always concerned about the results and ready to provide the most effective solutions for your project specifically. 

Request a consultation from WebbyLab’s team and discover how to successfully launch your IoT project right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hardware requirements for IoT?

The IoT hardware requirements concern security, connectivity, power, physical device design, data processing and storage, and cost. 

What are the challenges of IoT device development?

The IoT device development is facing two basic categories of challenges:

  • Technological: issues with connectivity, security, standardization, smart data analysis, and compatibility. 
  • Business: an emerging demand in large-scale manufacturing, simplified usability, device compatibility and software maintenance, etc. 

How to reduce the cost of building an IoT device?

According to our experience in IoT device development, the customization of pre-made and test-proven solutions is always cheaper and more effective than development from scratch.

How do you choose IoT hardware developers?

Once you’ve decided to hire IoT hardware experts for your project, selecting the best contractors will require three basic stages:

  • Market research, covering various aspects of the potential vendors, from their services to the minimal project costs and expertise within a particular industry
  • Technical analysis, during which you check the tech stack and equipment the company offers, research their development methodologies
  • Meeting to discuss all technical and organizational aspects. After that, you can make a final decision.
Alexey Krol
Alexey Krol
Опубліковано: 13 Вересня, 2022
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