The world around us is changing. The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a common word in many traditional industries and it is safe to assume that the early adopters in today’s industry will lead the future market. The five billion connected “things” in existence today will become 20-25 billion by 2019.

With so many different IoT use cases, one of the most common difficulties that companies run up against when deciding to go smart is choosing the right concept. Smart products tend to be more expensive than non-technological products and the smart concept must justify its cost by having a unique appeal for end consumers. Moreover, since the goal of producing smart products is to approach the mass market, and not just the niche of early-adaptors users, your product must be innovative but accessible; it must stand out from competing products, but be intuitive for users.

We’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you narrow down your choices and choose the best IoT concept for your company.

1. Start by assessing the smart product’s value for the end consumer

Whether it’s a doll, a suitcase, an umbrella or a wearable concept, the IOT product should give a concrete added value to the end consumer that will stand out from the ‘regular’ products in the market. As mentioned earlier, smart products tend to be more expensive due to added components (an electronic circuit board, for one), and the end consumers want to know what they are paying for. If you need help finding cool IoT ideas, feel free to browse our website. You can also look at Kickstarter or view this IOT list to see what’s current in the IOT market. You may also want to think about niche problems that you identify in your own market, such as the frustration of losing your luggage at the airport. This is precisely the type of headache that technology can do away with – by implanting a GPS inside of suitcases that allows travelers to locate them if they get lost. This is exactly the type of million-dollar concept that you will hopefully come up with during the brainstorming phase.

2. Phrase your product’s unique value in one or two sentences

Research shows that consumers make fast, intuitive decisions when choosing which product to buy. If the value of your smart product is too complicated to grasp in one sentence, then your concept needs to be defined better. Before starting product development, try the following experiment: Explain your concept to at least three or four people inside your company. As Einstein said, “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother”. And in some markets, your (or someone else’s) grandmother is the end consumer!

3. Think about the retail price and understand your target cost for electronics

This might tremendously change the concept you choose for certain products. If you can’t successfully sell a pen that costs more than $100, don’t build one with over-the-top smart features. You know your market better than anyone: you know which prices would exceed the acceptable price category and turn your product into a ‘negative’ luxury item whose price tag keeps consumers away. Considering the final price for users while identifying the right concept is a crucial part of deciding which smart product will have the greatest product value. This calculation should also take into consideration your estimation of what the perceived value of your product will be, after going smart. After all, some products are so different from the competition that they break the market and create a category and market demand of their own. For example, a pen that can writes on its own could potentially have so much value to the end user that you may decide it makes sense to sell it for over $100.

4. Think about the application value

Developing an intuitive application (or ‘app’) is an integral part of building your smart product. Apps can add measurable value to your product: The user could track the product’s activity, control it remotely, monitor his or her engagement with the product and get feedback on how he or she interacts with the smart product. An app can also allow you to customize the smart product by downloading content to it (sounds, commands) or altering its appearance (light, LCD screen). The app can connect to the internet and other applications, letting you exchange content with the world (for example, an app that orders milk from the store when your fridge is out of milk). In addition, the app adds enormous value to your revenue stream: you can publish add-ons through your app and communicate directly with your consumers. The app also enables you sell virtual content and upgrade the product after it hits the shelf, improving user experience and customer satisfaction as therebye extending the product’s lifecycle.

The IOT world opens up a world of opportunities. Take advantage of them to create an app that elevates the user experience and increases the product’s value for the end consumer.

5. Think about your competitors

Do you really know your competitors’ products? Where will your smart product stand in relation to other smart products? What unique advantages does it offer? These are questions you must answer to avoid creating a smart product that already exists on the market, or one that doesn’t stand out.

6. Think about implementation and development costs

It is easier to develop smart features for products that already have internal space for electronics, or that are big enough to add the necessary space. While you could assemble the electronics in small pieces, your first IoT journey will be much easier if you don’t have to modify your product molds significantly and can easily implement the electronics. Other factors to consider are whether your product comes in one piece or several, and, if it needs to be assembled, where the electronics will fit.  

7. Think about how the location of the smart device on the product will impact the user experience

The smart device should be located in a place that makes sense for the product. If the user is meant to look at a screen while using the product, then the screen location should be optimized for easy visibility and reach. For example, imagine creating a smart piano with an app that gives performance feedback to the musician. You could build an indent by the sheet music stand to hold the tablet or smartphone securely in place. Your options are vast: The smart devices can be placed above, inside, or far away from the product. Consider whether the smart device will be static or active during use, and, if there is a screen, whether or not the user is meant to touch the screen during use.

8. Consider how much you are willing to spend in order to create your dream product

Your budget for creating an IoT product includes both the physical object and the electronics that make it smart. The costs of various electronic parts fluctuate, often on a weekly or monthly basis. The possible smart functionalities you could add are endless, and you must understand the cost behind each smart function that you want to implement in order to budget for the overall expense. You can estimate the cost of implementing various smart capabilities here.

Remember, while the phrase ‘IOT’ is commonly used as a synonym for innovation and futuristic features, sometimes the best inventions are the simplest ones. Creating an IOT product can be easy and cost-effective, but it depends primarily on how creative you are at finding those ‘quick wins’ in the technological world. Adding a simple technology to your product may increase its value exponentially – if it’s the right technology at the right time. Doing the necessary research and brainstorming will save you the headache and expenses that come from building a product that cannot sell.   

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