After more than a decade of showing promise, the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to make its long-anticipated impact in homes, factories, and offices. While the expansion of 5G networking and its lower latency definitely helps drive this growth, intriguing applications and use-cases also contribute. All told, this scenario creates a strong demand for well-crafted mobile apps and other software used for the management of IoT devices.
The area of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) shows an especially high growth potential over the next few years. A report from IoT Analytics predicts the global IIoT market to grow from $1.67 billion in 2018 to $12.44 billion by 2024 – a compound annual growth rate of a massive 40 percent! Needless to say, significant opportunities abound for organizations to craft products the IIoT needs.
So, if your company wants to take advantage of this expanding market, check out the following overview of IoT product development. This roadmap focuses more on the software side of the shop, with a focus on app building, cloud integration, and forging a robust QA process. Use this information to position your team to design and build the apps to power the next generation of the IoT.
Starting an IoT Project on The Right Foot
Before writing one line of code, your IoT project team needs to engage in a detailed research and requirements gathering process. At the heart of this effort involves answering one critical question: what problem does your IoT platform intend to solve? Of course, having specific market expertise on your team helps inform this process. If you don’t already employ professionals with this experience, consider adding someone on a contract basis or working with a venture studio.
Use this initial effort to identify the target industry sector for the IoT application as well as the functionality it aims to provide. That latter item helps define the user interface considerations for an IoT management mobile app. Also determine the ideal user persona for the platform, as it remains critical throughout the project, especially during QA and validation.
Additionally, scope any relevant performance benchmarks for the platform, as they hold a similar importance as the user persona. Finally, the software team also needs to consider the sensors, actuators, and other hardware that integrates with their app. Note that all these requirements need to be mutable as the project evolves and new information from research and testing is learned.
Crafting a Powerful and Intuitive User Interface
When considering an IoT app for the smart home that controls a light or shade, simplicity becomes paramount. After all, it’s a case where the original hardware interface for those devices remains highly intuitive. However, IIoT platforms tend to be more complex. Still, designing an easy to use interface is one of the most important elements of mobile app design for IoT devices.
This interface needs to provide users with a clear design, including easy to read indicators and other screen elements for displaying data. Additionally, the controls used to interact with a device – buttons, sliders, etc. – need to reside within a well-structured layout. Hide complexity by leveraging different screens to be accessed by drilling down. Limit the number of visible elements on each screen as part of this process.
You also need to identify what platforms will host the app. Smartphone, tablet, web-based, desktop application, and even an embedded touchscreen all remain possibilities. Answering this question helps identify the overall scope for screen and interface design. Ultimately, it’s another critical question needing answered at the beginning of the project.
Device to Cloud Connectivity is Critical
Determining the connectivity options for the IoT device is also critical. The “I” in IoT stands for Internet, after all. The wireless protocols used obviously matter. Try to leverage 5G or a similar networking standard known for low latency. Your app needs to be highly responsive, and latency plays a key role in providing that seamless experience.
Also scope the potential of cloud-based communication and whether or not any portion of the overall platform also needs to run in the cloud. The amount of data involved likely needs to be considered as part of this analysis. A database to store historical records might also need to be hosted in the cloud.
Strategies for QA and Testing
Obviously a robust QA process remains a crucial piece of any IoT development project. The scope of this effort directly relates to the complexity of the app and underlying device platform. While QA engineers obviously need to be closely involved with testing the app’s functionality, also include “super users” to ensure the entire product ultimately solves the original business problem. Finally, using a modern software development methodology, like NineTwoThree’s version of Lean Startup, emphasizes the importance of testing throughout the initiative. Here is your chance to build a community that can test and give you feedback on your MVP.
If your company wants help bringing an IoT project to fruition, connect with our team at NineTwoThree. We provide both technical expertise and business acumen to our Internet of Things software development, ensuring an exceptional product, including a top-shelf app on every targeted platform. Contact us to discuss the possibilities of a partnership.