The Most Important Design Considerations for Building the Next IoT Devices

There is a widened range of applications for IoT devices that makes old technologies quickly obsolete.

Remarkably, there are increasing connectivity requirements as IoT devices evolve from carrying out simple commands to becoming full-scale intelligence systems.

Seiko Ruputer, the world’s first smartwatch, introduced in 1998 and later known as OnHand PC, could set calendar appointments and make to-do lists; and it had a calculator.

However, Apple’s flagship Series 6 smartwatch, released last year, is a health, fitness, and safety tool in one, amassing lots of personal data in the process and communicating over the cloud.

Today’s IoT devices are equipped with radio frequency technologies for wireless long-distance communication with other devices.

The following points represent some of the most pertinent considerations for designers when building the next generation of IoT devices.

Prior to that, though, an understanding must be established that when it comes to IoT, design is closely associated with manufacturing.

Particularly, the latter always includes design in its considerations just as backend software development factors in the front end. In essence, a complete IoT solution is one that balances design and manufacturing with operations.

Building Valuable Solutions

IoT devices are not luxury items or artifacts. Therefore, beyond aesthetics, IoT designers must focus on delivering value.

IoT solutions should solve real challenges for your audience.

This idea must be pre-eminent in the design process. It must guard the selection of features, the technologies introduced, and the functional elements that are included.

As Stephen Wilcox of Design Science once said, “as designers we are no longer going to be designing products; we're going to be designing adaptive systems.”

Security by Design

Today, many IoT devices, from smartwatches and voice assistants to smart refrigerators and smart cars, are highly invasive in their collection of personal data. They hold private information from your precise location to your health data, in some cases.

Therefore, the fact that IoT solutions operate in a real-world context and have tangible impacts must make designers prioritize security, not as a ‘feature’ but as part and parcel of the entire electronic design process.

One example of the advances in this regard is the deployment of security certificates automatically, over the air (OTA), and with zero-touch on IoT devices, powered by a partnership between Amazon Web Services and Eseye’s AnyNet technology.

Such an idea even makes production easier since security certificates no longer have to be manually delivered. Further, OTA upgrades should be enabled for IoT devices for longer timelines.

Revamping User Experience and Data Control

Future IoT device designs should focus on customizing the user experience. That’s a glimpse of what Apple is doing with its smartwatch series. Every user can get an Apple watch in their own unique personal style.

However, there is more to this. Users should be empowered to determine how they want to interact with their own devices. And not just the hardware, but the software too.

Today’s products (beyond IoT) already focus on delivering memorable personal experiences.

The IoT industry needs to catch up with this by providing more options for users. By the way, more options do not necessarily mean more features; rather, it could mean expanding ways by which consumers can explore the current features.

Following from the last point is essentially putting user control back in the hands of consumers, who already fear that their IoT devices collect too much unnecessary data.

The next IoT devices need to be highly privacy-focused, providing intuitive permissions that allow people to choose what, when, and how personal data can be used.

Data Management and Scalability

In addition, all the predictions point towards a massive increase in the adoption of IoT devices in the coming years.

This emphasizes scalable data management. More IoT devices mean much more data to be managed; more so, the rapid adoption of these devices means that IoT data would not only scale by volume but also by velocity.

The solution to this is to, right now, build systems that are strong enough to handle the coming influx of data in order to maintain efficiency across the board.

But another challenge that more data exacerbates is data security. Basically, the idea is that IoT devices are never standalone; that’s why they are also called ‘connected devices’ since they always work within an ecosystem. And the efficiency of this ecosystem begins with the management of data.

Conclusion

The IoT industry represents such a huge potential and it would not be wise to not take advantage of it.

However, designers and manufacturers must be ready to build IoT products for a world that prices value, user experience, privacy, and security.

More importantly, organizations need to be more efficient in how they manage IoT devices post-deployment, especially in navigating cloud data storage.