This article is the second in the series: Smart Products: 10 Things You Didn’t Know You’ll Need
Last week we published a blog post listing things you didn’t know you’ll need to develop a smart product from start to finish. This blog post looks at the technical complexities which can cause delays in a project, if not taken into consideration during product planning and the product design phase.
Use these tips to avoid pitfalls and get your smart product to market efficiently.
6. Pick a prototype for the occasion
Manufacturers use prototypes all the time, but choosing the right prototype for the correct stage of development can be tricky. Different types of prototypes for smart products include mechanical prototypes, design prototypes, sales prototypes and production prototypes. In the beginning you may use just a dev kit in order to choose your electronic solution. As the product passes through design, development and production, you will need to adapt your product to necessary changes, and that could mean a new prototype. For more on IoT prototyping readthis article.
7. App bureaucracy
If your product has an app you’ll need a Google or Apple app membership to advertise the application.This costs money, time, and includes the hassle generally involved with bureaucratic bodies. If your smart product doesn’t include an app, you will probably have to pay for use of the cloud.
Prepare yourself for these added expenses and time in advance. We also recommend that when you sign with an app developer, you include quality assurance (QA) in the agreement, which involves testing on different devices – Android and iOS – and different environments (Windows, Android, etc.). Match expectations in advance with the app developer on what they are developing.
8. App development isn’t the bottleneck – you may be surprised what is
You might assume that a company which isn’t used to working with an app developer might have to wait around for the developer to provide a finished product before continuing with production. Reality proves the opposite: Most often, the app developer waits for a process to happen on the other side, such as a prototype. (Seebo provides a simulator to sidestep this problem entirely – seeour simulator).
Also, since physical goods have to be manufactured, packaged, shipped and distributed to the stores, there’s a serious amount of time that passes between finalizing the product and actually seeing it on the shelf. With apps on the other hand, it takes only one to two weeks from the moment the app is finalized until it’s published, so you can work on it literally until the last minute. Delta for physical products – from approval to production – is much longer than that for apps.
Component lead time is another potential bottleneck. Product manufacturers don’t usually look at lead time for electronic components. What can help is to have good relationships with component companies. Planning ahead and working with an experienced sourcing team or IoT marketplaces can help to shorten this time gap.
9. Timing is everything – but communication is, too
During production of a smart product app, hardware and firmware developers work simultaneously on different projects which can frequently intersect. These are parallel, rather than linear processes. One of the most important tasks to tackle during the planning stages of your smart product is organizing how you will keep your groups synced: how the app developer in Berlin will communicate with the prototype designer in Sydney or the hardware developer in San Francisco. This is especially crucial in a field where an app developer works with electronics to test features and the communication between the app and the product; the hardware developer must implement hardware that will communicate with someone else’s software. There aretools in the market which help developers communicate with one another and get their projects done without learning new skills.
Communication stretches beyond your development teams. Most manufacturers work with one factory, or sometimes two. Building a smart product triples the number of factories required, as Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and PCB Assembly (PCBA) factories get involved. There is an entirely new terminology to learn, as well as managing how products move in between the factories. Who is responsible for the products at each stage in transit? If the PCB factories receive faulty boards, who is to blame? Due to the multiple parties involved, it is critical to set up a system from the get-go that aligns all parties.
10. Marketing and exhibiting a smart product
When exhibiting a smart product, besides the usual accessories you’ll need technical and electronic equipment: iPads to demonstrate the app features and charging spots for the app and physical product. You may also need to rethink how you demonstrate your product and plan accordingly. The physical product may or may not involve an app; will you demonstrate the entire functionality of the app and the smart features, or use a shorter demo? If you plan on using a demo to exhibit the product, you’ll need to create it in advance.
From prototyping to presenting your smart product at exhibitions, there are many ways to trip up a smart product before it reaches the market. With advanced planning you can bypass many of the complexities of smart product development and production and get your smart product to market smoothly and efficiently.
Yarden has exceptional experience in all stages of the product development life cycle and has a strong interest in consumer behavior and cognitive skills development. In her free time, Yarden enjoys modern dance and mastering the latest addictive game!