Materializing an idea, concept, or plan is often difficult.
The process of going from a planning phase in which everything theoretically works perfectly to a finished product is almost always more challenging than expected. This is especially true in the world of IoT.
When launching a new IoT project, any experienced IoT developer will tell you that something will go wrong. Whether that’s going over budget, or due to faulty hardware, carelessness, or other general mishaps, it probably will happen. Therefore, you need to prepare yourself. This is when prototyping IoT devices come in.
What Is Prototyping in IoT?
IoT prototyping is the action of experimenting and implementing design ideas into preliminary versions of a finished product.
Essentially, it involves trying out and testing different ways to bring something from the planning phase to reality.
In the world of IoT, a prototype could be:
- A user interface (UI)
- A hardware device
- Backend software
- Connectivity of a system
As a result, prototyping can be done in many different ways. While we think it’s pretty clear what the benefits of prototyping in IoT are, we want to convince all of you!
With that in mind, here are the five reasons why you should prototype your IoT device:
1. It Brings Clarity to Design
One of the most important aspects of materializing a project is having a clear vision. However, that vision can sometimes get confused in the process of realising it. This is when prototyping IoT devices can help.
Let’s breakdown each area of a project you could prototype to show you how:
- UI: Prototyping allows you to see if it makes sense to the end-user — your customer.
- Hardware: You can check whether specs are going to be sufficient for your system.
- Connectivity: This helps you find out if your project has IoT latency issues or unexpectedly high traffic.
These project areas and their possible problems are going to manifest during the prototyping phase. In turn, they’ll give you a better overall picture of what your project is going to end up looking like in reality.
2. Gives You Important Information
Prototyping might also show the feasibility of a design aspect in your IoT project.
For example, as mentioned, prototyping connectivity might show a level of latency that is much higher than what was expected and, therefore, makes the original design not acceptable.
Furthermore, prototyping a device might reveal it has insufficient range, is prone to overheat, or runs out of battery sooner than expected.
This information will reveal what changes have to be made during the design phase. Maybe you need to consider a different IoT protocol, maybe you need to buy devices from a different manufacturer, or maybe you need to restructure the project entirely. Either way, noticing these aspects as soon as possible can have great benefits for your project in the future.
PRO TIP: Keep in mind that the level of fidelity of your prototypes can determine the quality of the information you receive. Making a high fidelity prototype might take more time and be more expensive than a low fidelity prototype but it will give you better data of how your project will work in its final state.
3. Provides You With Early Feedback From Users and Your Team
Allowing users and the development team the opportunity to interact with the system and its components is a great way of receiving early feedback.
Remember, an important part of any project is proving its value to the end client, and IoT prototyping is the easiest and fastest way of doing so.
It’s wise to constantly iterate on prototypes and get into a positive feedback loop. This is called IoT rapid prototyping and it will make every prototype better than the last one, as well as give developers the peace of mind that everything is working as it should. This prototyping methodology allows you to constantly develop a minimum viable product.
4. It Mitigates Risk
The information that you gather from IoT prototyping can help you reduce or mitigate risk in the future.
It’s of paramount importance that you identify vulnerabilities or possible problems in your system as soon as possible. Furthermore, by creating and improving a prototype, you can see those problems before they are deployed.
In IoT projects aspects like communication, processing, and power must be examined for risk. Let’s look at some items you can check when prototyping IoT devices in order to sidestep any potential banana skins:
- Find out how much power your IoT device is consuming, if it’s doing so safely, and if it’s energy-efficient.
- See if your communication protocol is working properly
- Check your IoT encryption method is working
5. Saves Money and Time
It may not seem like it, but IoT prototyping actually ends up saving you a lot of money and time.
After investing in an IoT prototyping kit, you’re able to rule out the danger of spending additional time and budget on correcting any device issues post-deployment.
A costly fix like this would also take a huge swipe at morale for both clients and your team. Not to mention the amount it will cost you while the project is down.
As you can see, there are multiple benefits to prototyping in IoT. You could be the most confident and competent IoT developer out there, however, things can and usually do go wrong.
Therefore, don’t skip prototyping IoT devices. It will allow you to catch any potential issues as soon as possible and save you from damaging both your reputation and budget down the line.
Want to see how Nabto can help you while developing or prototyping your IoT solution? Get in touch today and book a free consultation.
Read Our Other Resources
We’ve published a range of IoT resources for our community, including:
- A Comparison of IoT Protocols, which provides a complete comparison of the major protocols and standards available.
- Buying versus building an IoT platform, which discusses how to choose the best option for you.
- Find the right microcontroller by reading our Complete Guide to Microcontrollers for IoT.
- If you decide to use an RTOS, check out How to Choose the Best RTOS for IoT.