Building an IoT device: Things to Know

Computer engineers, in general, are always on the lookout for the next big thing to hit the market. Especially when the latest buzzword — the Internet of Things — promises enhanced connectivity, seamless monitoring, and excellent improvements to productivity and efficiency.

It is not entirely surprising that the total number of global IoT connected devices is predicted to triple from 8.74 billion units in 2020 to an astonishing 25.4 billion in 2030.

However, building a functional and efficient IoT device is not easy. It demands much more than investing in technology. While understanding the do’s and don’ts of IoT device development is a great place to start, we believe a brief understanding of the fundamentals can go a long way in easing out initial hiccups.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a unified system of objects connected to collect information and transfer the data over a wireless network. An IoT application and software and hardware are needed to interact with these devices.

IoT offers seamless communication between things, devices, and people. The network of everyday objects embedded with sensors and software helps connect with the internet and exchange information with other systems or devices.

4 Major Layers of IoT Architecture

The architecture of IoT is a basic framework that maps out the physical components, network configuration, data, and functional organization of the device. The Internet of Things is not an easy concept to grasp, and needless to say, building an IoT device demands a lot of work.

Unlike other technologies, there is no standard IoT architecture. The device functionality, scope, and implementation define the architecture used. However, a basic workflow is used, and this process flow has four standard building blocks.

1. Sensing or Perception Layer

The sensing layer or the perception layer contains the actual sensors, connecting devices, and actuators. These sensors collect information from the physical environment, process the collected data, and transmit the information over the internet network.

The sensing layer is crucial as the built-in sensors have to read the parameters accurately, be compatible with networking protocols, and be configured to support the system. Some sensors include smoke, pressure, temperature, and alcohol sensors.

2. Networking Layer

The network layer acts as the transmitter of all the data collected by the devices to be processed. The networking layers connect the devices to several servers, smart devices, and objects.

The network type depends on the project requirements and scope. For example, short-range technologies or networks will work fine if the equipment is present in the exact location in an industrial setting. Choose long-range networks should the devices be spread over long distances.

3. Data Processing Layer

The data processing layer handles the pre-processing of collected data before sending it to the data centres. Once the pre-processed data is sent to the data centres, it is received by the business application, which prepares further action.

The data processing layer can be deployed on-premises or on the cloud. If investing in high-end hardware is not an option, you can always choose to have it on the cloud.

4. Application Layer

IoT devices receive data from connected devices, transform the information, and deliver desired functionalities. The end-user interacts with the application layer. It is responsible for providing application services to the user, and it should be interactive and user-friendly.

6 Points to Note when Building an IoT Device

Any company looking to build an IoT device would undoubtedly take fundamental steps to ensure its success. But the organization should also predict critical challenges. We provide six facts that any team on an IoT project should consider.

Identify a Problem

IoT devices are built to solve some critical issues of businesses. Ask yourself what problem you are trying to solve with your device. Some of the reasons why businesses develop connected products are:

● Predictive maintenance

● Asset and inventory tracking

● Compliance management

● Fleet monitoring

It is possible to develop IoT devices to cater to anyone or many of these tasks, improving business efficiency.

Start by Building Prototype

Prototype building is a time-consuming and yet highly beneficial task. Although much time is spent modelling and developing a workable prototype, it is an essential step in creating any complex device.

Developing a prototype will let you know the minimum parameters you have to build into your system. It will also allow the development team to know what features, technological gaps, or skill gaps are missing and take steps to rectify them.

Put together a Team of Experts.

The right domain experts help develop a feature-rich and time-bound IoT solution. If you want to build a water-tight connected device, you require experts with the right technical skills and expertise. Otherwise, the project might get delayed or run into production trouble.

Consult with the Right Technology Partner

Before you choose a partner, you should communicate your goals and understand whether their offered solution provides value to your business.

Consider many factors, such as their hardware expertise, experience in handling the specific project requirement, flexibility, scalability, connectivity stack reliability, management tools, and troubleshooting prowess.

Pro-tip: Before selecting the tech partner, it is better if you request a prototype to be built using their platform. A prototype gives you a better idea about their capabilities drawbacks and provides you with the project’s scope. It will help you make better project decisions.

Go with Edge Intelligence for a Smooth Architecture

The data volumes generated by an IoT device are huge, and as such, storing large volumes of data on the cloud or in data centres can be a costly affair for many businesses. That’s why edge computing has become more popular, as it is a comparatively affordable solution.

Data is transferred from data points to an IoT gateway with edge intelligence. These local network data hubs process only necessary information before sending it over to a centralized hub. Moving the heavy lifting to the edge gateway rather than having it on the device makes for a smoother, affordable, and efficient IoT development lifecycle.

Build a Secure IoT Device

Unlike the newer versions, most IoT devices have a unique IP address to identify and communicate. The risk of exposing the device to security threats should not be disregarded. Undertaking strict encryption protocols extra effort for security and maintenance goes a long way in ensuring a high-security standard.

What NOT to do when Building an IoT Device

It is good to know what points to keep in mind when building an IoT device. But it is essential to know what NOT to do when making a successful connected device.

Not Building the right infrastructure.

Underestimating the need to have a sound infrastructure can spell disastrous to your project. While many companies focus solely on developing the software layer, they forget that an IoT device also needs a reliable networking and hardware component to work. Without integrating software, hardware, and networking, it is impossible to provide customers with features and value.

Not thinking about Flexibility or Project Scalability.

Unlike other projects, Scalability and flexibility are crucial factors in an IoT development project. Especially since scaling an IoT project doesn’t mean scaling up a product or even a technology. It means giving the entire process an overhaul. The data, business, project, and API infrastructure should be scaled up effectively.

Not taking time to invest in getting certifications.

The same complexity that makes IoT a versatile solution also makes it vulnerable to security attacks. Since a single network can be connected to hundreds of devices, and the data is being transmitted back and forth, IoT connections can be susceptible to threats.

Get help from necessary experts to develop a strategy that can help you get the required certification early on in the project. You might require a few security certifications such as FCC, IC, CE, PTCRB, and more.

Not spending time in testing

Test, test, and retest — should be your strategy for developing a reliable IoT-connected device. Test at every stage of the development process to spot quality, connectivity, and networking issues. Make sure the regulatory compliances, hardware and software quality, and networking reliability are validated thoroughly before the product is launched in the market.

Conclusion:

Starting your IoT project can be daunting, but the challenge makes the entire process exciting and rewarding. Plan ahead, strategize and bring on board the right team of experts to develop a reliable and successful IoT project. Contact Intuz for more details.

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