The Internet of Things and Product Development: Strategy Suggestions from Optimal Design

The Internet of Things and Product Development: Strategy Suggestions from Optimal Design

Arlington Heights, IL (February 25, 2014) – With an astonishing 25 billion devices predicted to be connected to the Internet by 2015, the Internet of Things (IoT) stands to become a multi-trillion dollar market by the end of the decade. Award-winning engineering and product development firm Optimal Design is helping manufacturers capture a slice of this jaw-dropping potential by navigating the unique challenges of designing and manufacturing Internet-connected devices.

The room for growth is massive, says Optimal Design’s Director of Electrical and Software Engineering Joe Kreidler, as long as manufacturers embrace smart product development strategies. “There’s no doubt that we’re only scratching the surface of what the IoT can become,” says Kreidler. He points to the fact that wireless sensors are being used on everything from cattle, transmitting health data that lets the farmer know when a cow is sick, to refrigerators that let you know when you’re out of milk.

“But,” he says, “It’s important for manufacturers to remember that there is a cost to developing and producing these devices. It’s easy to get carried away by the potential – and ignore the very real obstacles that might prevent a manufacturer from obtaining the best ROI on their product.”
Kreidler suggests companies consider these potential issues when developing their own Internet-connected product development strategy:

  • What value will this product provide to the end user? Kreidler cautions manufacturers against pursuing IoT just for the sake of IoT itself. Instead, there must be an end benefit in mind. For example, a “smart” garbage can might seem to be of limited value – until one considers that the city of Cincinnati has reduced labor and fuel costs by nearly $1 million each year with an innovative recycling program that uses radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled bins to monitor waste levels.
  • How will the device connect to the Internet? Machine-to-machine communication technologies include RFID, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Bluetooth low energy (BLE), near-field communication (NFC) and cellular – just to name a few. Manufacturers need to assess their application requirements early in the game to determine which technology provides the right mix of coverage, power consumption, and service costs.
  • How will the device be powered? Both battery and electric power sources may be viable options, each appropriate for distinct situations. And as technology advances, new alternatives become available; for instance, scientists have recently developed a commercially-viable nanogenerator – a flexible chip that uses body movements to generate electricity. Product manufacturers must therefore work with the right design partner if they wish to gain access to the latest knowledge and industry insights.

Optimal Design is well-positioned to provide that expert perspective, with more than 150 patents and over a decade of experience in the IoT market. The company is also an Authorized Design Partner with Microchip, the leading provider of the electrical components used in Internet-connected devices. All of this allows Optimal Design to help their clients dramatically reduce product development time and costs and still produce a superior product, says Kreidler.

“We focus on helping our clients integrate the most reliable, flexible and cost-effective solutions for their products, by leveraging our own inside expertise and industry relationships. It all goes back to our core value proposition: to offer our clients everything they need to create robust, easy-to-use products that look as great as they work.”