IoT Design Considerations: Power

There are a few considerations associated with connecting a product to the IoT. Devices already using a wall outlet will not have an issue, but manufacturers of products without wall plugs will have to think through how their power source will affect the design.

IoT devices running on batteries will have to make hardware decisions based on power conservation. There are also a variety of battery types to be taken into consideration: alkaline, lithium (rechargeable) and coin. There are also AA, AAA, coin cell, C, D, 9V, or custom batteries to choose from. As noted earlier, wireless technologies have different power requirements based on use-cases. Once a manufacturer understands how long and how often a device will be connected, the proper type of battery can be chosen.

Another power source for Ethernet-based devices is Power-over-Ethernet (PoE). This technology is popular for low-wattage IP phones and security cameras. Recent advancements and new switching technology is pushing the wattage available through PoE to new levels. This has opened up various possibilities for power-hungry applications and devices.

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IoT Design Considerations: User Interface

Today’s consumers and business owners expect to access and control the world around them. How are your buyers going to interface with your product? Options range from using a smart home panel or gateway to an on-product display that can be paired with LEDs or push buttons. In addition, apps that monitor and control connected devices can be available for on-the-go consumers with smart phones. The type of product and its possible use-cases are important considerations when designing a product that can communicate information to its user.

Wi-Fi-enabled IoT devices have the ability to act as a soft access point (soft AP) which allows a user to “join” its network locally with a smartphone, laptop or tablet. Soft APs make product LED/LCD displays unnecessary since the screen of the connected device will serve the same purpose.

Using a soft AP does not preclude the module from connecting to the Internet and cloud-based services. This dual-mode is very attractive because the user can access the product remotely and locally, depending on the features of the product.

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

IoT Design Considerations: Features

The IoT allows companies to add features to their product that were never possible before. These features have a wide range of benefits and functions including automatic software updates (over-the-air), smart home and office connectivity, reminders for maintenance, special offers, recall notices and upgrades, remote or local access and control. It is also important that designers work with their marketing team to be sure the features desired are not limited by the hardware and networking technologies selected.

These features extend new benefits to manufacturers as well. The features that consumers use can provide manufacturers with valuable insight about the application of their products. For example, a washing machine may have 20 different functions on it, but because it is connected to the IoT, the manufacturer can learn which functions the consumer uses and improve the washer’s product design. This same connected washing machine can also contact its owner when a part is starting to fail and needs to be fixed. These new features also open the manufacturer to additional revenue streams presented by the data collected from the smart device. A company that sells a connected washing machine can sell data on detergent use to the companies that carry those products.

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

IoT Design Considerations: Network

Manufacturers have many hardware and software options when it comes to network technology for their IoT-enabled products. Some devices can be directly connected to the Internet using networking such as Ethernet and Wi-Fi, which are based on the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP), a set of communications protocols providing end-to-end connectivity. Other products may use wireless technologies; some of which include TCP/IP, but will require a “gateway,” or a “hub” to convert the chosen network to either Ethernet or Wi-Fi, such as ZigBee or Z-Wave. Some of the many technologies available include:

  • Ethernet
  • Wi-Fi
  • IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPAN)
  • ZigBee
  • Z-Wave
  • Bluetooth
  • Bluetooth Smart e.g. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Bluetooth (BT) 4.0, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Cellular

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

IoT Design Considerations: Cost

Connecting products to the Internet of Things (IoT) is essential to manufacturers looking to stay competitive within their industry. Adding IoT capabilities allows the manufacturer to stay connected with their customer, while discovering new product uses and applications that open them up to new revenue streams. However, these added benefits come with a cost. Connected devices come with a higher manufacturing overhead, but may also be sold with a bigger price tag.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections can be added to products for less than $10 in bill of materials costs. Other technologies, such as ZigBee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth, can be added for a lower price, but may require a separate bridge to connect to the Internet and access Cloud services.

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.