Every new technology is attached with its own pool of challenges and opportunities. For IoT, the fact that it is pacing for a $ 1.4 Tn market cap by 2026 is a testimony of tremendous opportunities. Likewise, the dearth of on-demand IoT resources is a challenge that most enterprises fight every day. IoT is complicated and building IoT products is expensive. Small mistakes can quickly become very costly and can cause irreversible damage to your IoT project. Thorough prototyping is a must to avoid these costly mistakes during IoT product development. To provide a quick run-through, prototyping in IoT involves building an MVP mockup of the final product which includes a series of development tasks across hardware (mechanical & electrical), software (UI, UX, backend) and middleware (Connectivity development) disciplines. Does that mean that IoT prototype development consists of multiple prototype development projects? That is not incorrect though.
To fast-track the prototyping process, several on-demand solutions have succeeded fairly to lessen the burden for the developers. These solutions consist of pre-built kits such as circuit boards, mock-up design templates of previously built products, component rental services, developer-friendly DIY boards and access to a wide range of IoT professionals for different jobs.
For those exploring possible solutions to build an IoT prototype, start by making a choice between DIY and outsourcing.
DIY: Get IoT Prototype Development Kits
Opt for DIY kits if you have budget constraints. The following solutions were first introduced for students and lightweight prototyping. Today, these are helping various enterprises to actualize their production. While Arduino Uno continues to be the best DIY board, here’s the list of others that you can use for less cost and less critical development projects.
Mediatek Linkit One
The MediaTek Linkit One chipset is based on MT2502A and achieves a speed of 260MHz. Its suite of radios such as GPS, GSM, GPRS, WiFi and Bluetooth makes it one of the best connectivity providers in the business. Moreover, it uses the Arduino IDE to deliver a rich API working experience. Linkit One is widely used for rapid prototyping of various IoT products such as wearables, tags and electronic devices.
Next on the list is Particle Photon that is powered by the ARM Cortex M3 processor. This one is equipped with a flash of 1MB and 128KB RAM. The board is readily accessible from the web once the basic configuration is done. Particle Photon has 5 analog pins and 8 digital pins for connecting with actuators and sensors.
However, when the ease in use and affordability is concerned, C.H.I.P is unquestionably the best pick.
C.H.I.P is powered by a 1GHz processor (Allwinner R8) and has an embedded Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi radios thereby providing seamless connectivity. Moreover, it comes with high-speed storage of 4GB and doesn’t require an SD Card to run the OS. That being said, the 8 GPIO pins board has support for a large range of sensors.
Outsource: Reach Out To Marketplaces
If you are working on an IoT product and not availing of the services of an IoT marketplace, you are already trailing your competition. Like other technologies and sectors, IoT too has a dedicated marketplace wherein startups and enterprises can engage to find the right product development company for their IoT idea. Following are the most reputed IoT marketplaces to build prototypes:
AT&T – For purchasing IoT starter kits
AT &T provides a cloud platform to build and launch on-demand IoT solutions. The beauty of AT &T is its huge marketplace library to browse prototyping development kits, connectivity module solutions and a wide range of consulting services. As a reputed telecom technology services provider, AT &T was one of the first platforms to provide end-to-end solutions in one dashboard.
Ioterra – One-stop IoT Marketplace For Services And Solutions
Ioterra spearheads the business with a comprehensive marketplace solution. It is detailed, covers all solutions and has an exclusive section for building prototypes. Ioterra connects cross-discipline professionals with enterprises looking for them. What makes it superior is widespread prototyping services such as procurement of components, hiring prototyping specialists and RFP support.
Through an automated RFP tool, the platform broadcasts the requirement to targeted resources those who are specialized in building IoT prototypes. The RFP tool receives your requirement through a form wherein you specify the product specs, budget, timelines and low-level explanation of the effort estimation. Subsequently, it produces a thorough RFP document and floats it across in the community.
Additionally, Ioterra provides an interface to connect with resources from any discipline and skill within the IoT spectrum.
Libelium Marketplace – Off The Shelf IoT Kits With Cloud Connectivity
Besides a catchy name, Libelium IoT Marketplace tries to help users click and buy a wide range of IoT development kits and components. The platform provides a dashboard to deploy smart applications across all disciplines of IoT mainly hardware and software. Assuming that prototyping is the starting point to all IoT projects, the platform allows direct access to resources that can help in the task.
Explore 3D Prototyping (Rapid Prototyping)
Rapid prototyping provides a faster mechanism to iterate through a design in focus by producing 3D components. Needless to say that this is a more interactive and accurate method of evaluating the prototype in development. It is best suited for most low-to-medium cost IoT objects. Different 3D printing techniques include Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (SLA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).
IoT prototyping will not be difficult if you diligently pursue any one of these services. To continue the list, businesses can also try social media outreach, broadcasting on tender boards and communities, renting ready-to-deploy prototypes etc. As IoT grows, businesses should utilize the available services to fast track their IoT product development in a secure and qualitative way.