In its simplest form, the Internet of Things (IoT) enables devices to collect data, provide information, and respond to requests for action.
IoT then connects these smart enabled devices via the Internet to a centralized place where all of the data can be easily viewed, digested, and acted upon, either by people or AI. Through this ongoing collection and distribution of data, the devices become smarter about the way they function and how they’re used.
Smart thermostats are a common example. We used to set our thermostats to a certain point. Perhaps we could bump the set point up or down if we were going out of town—but only if we remembered.
Now, with smart thermostats like Nest on the market, we can control temperature remotely, set timers for the temperature based on our daily routines, get information back from the device, see data trends, and make decisions that increase the home’s energy efficiency.
More and more devices are becoming smart enabled and being added to the IoT—working together, manufacturers and IoT enablers are discovering value where people would not have imagined that value existed even five years ago.
Entering the IoT Space with Grace
Of course, exponential growth creates growing pains. As manufacturers attempt to convert more traditional devices into the IoT space, concerns about data management, data visualization, device security, and network security are also on the rise.
Kopis developers, and our partners at Zipit Wireless, work alongside manufacturers who want to explore the possibilities of smart enabled devices, helping them get their devices to market quickly with the least possible risk.
Build Your Product, Not a Software Team
First tip: Practice the Lean Startup concept. Instead of spending your time trying to understand all aspects of IoT, partner with knowledge experts so you can focus on what you do best and get to your first product iteration quickly.
As an example, Kopis, and our partners at Zipit, are both IoT enablers, and together we can offer clients a fully integrated platform to test, build and run their products with as little investment as possible each step of the way.
Having someone like Zipit to handle connecting your device to the Internet and managing the carriers means you are focusing on what features on the physical device will be most valuable to customers.
Similarly, on the software and cloud side, building a new software product from the ground up to be secure, scalable, and have all the functionality your users expect is a daunting challenge—let alone if you need to pivot after the first customers get their devices.
Essentially, partnering with companies that bring a platform & experience to the table will help you iterate quickly to a successful version 1 product without the startup shortcuts.
Consider the Goal—And the End User
There is no cookie-cutter approach to creating an IoT device. An Internet of Things enabler can help make the information you’ve gathered consumable, but that means vastly different things depending on the device.
A smart thermostat will need to collect and report much different data than a smart camera, for example. Some IoT devices may need to summarize massive amounts of data and respond on their own, while other devices should only respond to user input.
When creating a new IoT device, it’s important to consider the best way to consume the data. This is an area where a knowledge partner can be a true value-add to the final product. They can help you figure out what you have, what data is meaningful, and what should be made visible and actionable—which, again, will be different for each device.
As more devices become smart enabled, the real value will be in figuring out how to use the data that’s created to improve lives, improve finances, and find more economical, efficient ways to work.
Finally, security is, perhaps, even more important than figuring out visibility and how to consume data.
Manufacturers need to make their devices as secure as possible upfront; you can iterate through software updates and visualization as you learn what your users are doing with the data and how they’re interacting with the device, but it’s difficult to regain trust after a security breach.
If data security isn’t your area, then you need to partner with an expert to secure your device. Zipit partners with manufacturers to secure the device itself, while Kopis can work with you to connect the device to a centralized infrastructure and secure the user portal.
That is a critical place to secure, because an attacker who accesses the portal can get access to multiple devices.
Minimize Risk and Maximize Results
By following these three best practices, manufacturers can enter the IoT space and find success without having to build a development team from the ground up or risking their customers’ data.