Meanwhile, more and more devices with IoT functions are coming onto the market, bringing new possibilities and creative applications. It has also resulted in numerous changes in the way products are designed, tested and manufactured. Engineers face a significant challenge. The number of connected IoT devices is expected to increase to 28 billion by 2025. With soaring growth, the need to take a holistic approach to these challenges is more significant than ever.
Why Is IoT Technology So Crucial To Product Design And Development?
Numerous industries are increasingly dependent on the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The demand for devices that can connect to the cloud will continue to grow in the future. In addition to applications in industry, healthcare and consumer products, IoT hardware and systems for autonomous vehicles are also being developed at an astonishing pace.
While the growing number of connected devices brings many benefits, the sudden increase in volume also poses new challenges for companies and manufacturers. You’re forced to grapple with new device design, performance, and security issues.
IoT Design Challenges And Solutions
IoT design is fraught with confusing challenges, pressing deadlines, and an overwhelming number of test considerations. The biggest obstacles manufacturers face in IoT are connectivity, longevity, regulations, interconnectivity and security. Below, we address each of these problems and provide suggestions for comprehensive solutions.
The most obvious hurdle in developing an IoT device is its connectivity. The IoT design is intended to enable the movement and use of data both to and from the infrastructure, the cloud, and the devices themselves. Development and product testing pose their challenges, not to mention keeping up with ever-evolving industry standards and best practices.
Companies that don’t specialize in wireless technologies often lack the expertise to develop new IoT devices and quickly face the problem of creating scalable prototypes and testing new products. Radiofrequency (RF) technology is notoriously difficult to test reliably, which sometimes leads to questionable new products hitting the market.
Solutions: To overcome this challenge, outsourcing the prototyping and evaluation of a new product is often a better option than handling these tasks in-house. This saves expensive equipment and the search for qualified personnel and offers the necessary flexibility in a rapidly developing market.
Also Read: Tips For IoT Security
Battery life and power consumption are critical in the development of IoT devices. Development and test engineers must work together to ensure functionality, particularly in industries such as healthcare and the automotive industry, where the lifetime of a product can pose a safety risk.
Innovative components that automatically adjust the power consumption of IoT devices are widespread.
This allows the device to change its behaviour depending on the depletion of the batteries and the type of use of the product, usually with deep sleep cycles for idle times. The firmware and software are also designed to be constantly updated to maximize battery life. Solutions: Engineers in all areas of the development process should be involved in improving longevity and performance. IoT devices must be extensively tested with various currents to simulate consumer applications as realistically as possible.
The development of IoT devices involves a complex web of compliance and compliance standards that can lead to problems – especially when a strict schedule has to be adhered to. There are international and regional laws and regulations and system and operator conformity requirements that must be understood.
Adhering to tight marketing and production schedules makes adherence to these parameters even more difficult. Any change in legal regulations or compliance requirements can significantly increase time and costs and damage a company’s reputation.
Solutions: As with most aspects of technology, it is best to test IoT devices and components early and frequently. Pre-compliance testing can mean the difference between a popular product and one that doesn’t make it to market. There are already scalable and automated test systems on the market with which the manual test effort can be reduced, especially in the early phases of product development.
As mentioned earlier, the number of connected devices has grown exponentially and is expected to explode in the years to come. This brings additional challenges as new IoT devices keep coming onto the market, and existing technologies need to be integrated with the connectivity capabilities of new designs.
In addition to the more immediate problems associated with incorporating new and old technologies, the devices must function satisfactorily even in congested networks. Errors and design constraints can cause anything from slightly delayed device responses to potentially life-threatening failures. Solutions: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has published an evaluation process and supporting test methods for interconnectivity in radio frequency (RF) environments in the American National Standard for Evaluation of Wireless Coexistence (ANSI).
A brief overview is given below. For a complete guide, the entire publication is available online.
- Define the target electromagnetic (EM) environment (frequencies, protocols and signal strengths).
- Specify the functional wireless performance (FWP) of the device under test (EUT).
- Assign the evaluation levels based on the test performance to be achieved and the consequences of a failure.
- Select a test method.
- Specify the intended RF signal to and from the EUT.
- Specify the unintended signals to and from the EUT.
- Prepare a report assessing the potential risk and ability of the EUT to operate in a mixed-signal environment
Perhaps the most significant problem to be solved in developing the IoT is fully addressing security issues. When a device is connected to multiple networks, the vulnerability to security breaches increases; typically, three aspects are considered: device security, network security, and corporate security.
- Device-level solution: Device-level security should be a priority as most security issues occur at the endpoints. The security of IoT devices must be considered, implemented and tested from the start and throughout the development process.
- Network-level solution: Network-level security consists of an information security framework with policies and procedures to protect against network threats. These internal guidelines determine what data and other information must be protected and describe best practices for physically and virtually safeguarding assets. Since the network is constantly monitored for threats, there should be a documented plan for how to proceed if a threat is discovered. This creates a system that prevents financial losses and increases the chances of asset recovery in a loss.
- Company-level solution: It is crucial for your operation that everyone involved in a company is fully aware of the security risks. This includes how to handle sensitive and protected data, warning signs to look out for and how to minimize the risk. Most security breaches are the result of a simple mistake by an employee. Therefore, the importance of creating a security framework that includes training and procedures cannot be emphasized enough. Remember, if your company stores sensitive customer information, it has a legal responsibility to keep that information secure.
The Future Of IoT Technology
While IoT technology brings unique and unprecedented challenges in our digital age, the benefits that result from the level of connectivity achieved are unparalleled. New solutions and systems in healthcare, agriculture, vehicle construction and countless other industries are already changing lives worldwide.
Incredible progress has been made and continues to be realized by companies that take a holistic approach to IoT device development. Although IoT technology has only recently become mainstream, the scope and reach of its potential are genuinely endless.