IoT (Internet of Things) devices are non-standard devices that have software and hardware capable of connecting to wireless networks and transmitting data. They leverage internet connectivity to be accessed, operated and monitored remotely. The term IoT generally used for hardware devices fitted with an internet connection that helps it to do so much more, especially with regards to feedback loop usually found in connected software. These form a bridge between reality and the digital world.

Consumers needs are constantly evolving along with the constant overload of information, and the rate at which technology is advancing. This led consumers to ask for more than just standard devices, ones that require pushing a button to get them to do their basic functions. They want devices that are smart and interconnected, sharing information to enhance user experience and anticipate their needs. Consumers want what is known as IoT devices.

IoT ideas and designs are expected to be numbered in billions within a few years. Data shows the use of these devices is rising rapidly, offering an excellent market in a growing number of industries. Global Data gives the estimation that the IoT market will exceed USD 318 billion in 2023, where solutions for utilities and manufacturing will lead the way (55%). Despite these estimates, IoT is a field whose growth limits are currently unknown. It is a technology that is spreading to various industries at a breakneck pace, transforming the way entire sectors do business.

IoT design

Good design allows IoT devices to be better monitored and controlled compared to standard devices. If a user left their home without turning off the air conditioning system, with IoT, the user can easily find out about the situation and even switch off that system remotely.

Miniaturised designs are an example of good design and are favoured in most cases. Smaller product size affects the selection of materials, components placement, and board design to a great extent. These factors further affect the cost of IoT devices, so it is good to remove useless spaces early in the process.

Judging by the definition of IoT devices, one can see why developing these devices for consumers over standard devices is a good idea. One major advantage is that IoT devices require less human intervention (sometimes none at all). Since these physical devices are connected and constantly communicating, they are able to anticipate user needs and act independently in an automated fashion. This is extremely efficient and faster than the user having to manually fiddle with the device every time to get it to operate the way they want.

One can easily imagine use cases where they can be a big help. One concept that is really appealing to consumers is smart homes. Imagine pulling up on a driveway and having a device in the car “tell” the garage door to open. The garage door then sends a signal to the air-conditioning system of the house, to turn it on and reach a suitable temperature.

IoT solution development requires skilled engineering design to turn ideas into useful designs, and make them actually more practical that than alternative standard devices. This same advanced design can turn these practical ideas into huge energy savers.

IoT design requirements are ever-changing. Gone are the days, companies assign separate teams to design and optimise components, then aggregate parts later. It is common now for one team to work out whole products. IoT designers work collaboratively and respond to change quickly. Product integration has become one of the core considerations in the design stage.

IoT benefits

As much as IoT devices do much to enhance the quality of life for consumers, they also provide exceptional benefits for companies that carry out large-scale operations. IoT concerns gadgets and devices are connected and communicate with each other, collecting, storing and transmitting data over wireless networks. By leveraging IoT, large-scale operations can improve in areas that can help them stay ahead of the competition and increase profitability.

When employees are being productive, the company becomes a beacon of profitability, and IoT can help in various ways in this area. For instance, if a company is in the mining industry and need to know when their employees are most productive, they can equip them with custom-made electric hammers that record their productive hours. This way, management can easily schedule the most labour-intensive mining operations involving hammers to be carried out during that time based; this will be based on the data collected and transmitted by the electric hammers.

Workplace safety is extremely important for large-scale operations, especially when employees work in a high-risk environment. Consider people working in a manufacturing plant where there is plenty of heavy machinery, things that need lifting and pushing and where power drills and saws are used. If the employees are wearing tailored IoT devices, they can be monitored at all times and warned when they enter dangerous areas, perform tasks that require extra caution or when the device detects high-stress levels when lifting or pushing an object. All of this will allow management to maintain a high level of workplace security.

Since large-scale operations mass produces their products, they need to keep costs down to remain competitive. Thankfully, a custom-designed IoT solution can help them achieve this since this technology takes monitoring of equipment to a whole new level. For example, IoT can predict equipment failure, allowing the business to take pre-emptive action and rectify the problem. This can help avoid costly downtime in the process. Also, electrical efficiency can be improved as well since the IoT can monitor how much electricity the equipment needs and supply it with the right amount. All equipment not using an excessive amount of electricity due to having an efficient system means companies get to save on electricity.

For a business that produces devices and gadgets that cater to the preferences and behaviours of their customers, they need data coming straight from how users are interacting with their offerings. IoT makes this possible, allowing them to collect data from places like the internet (social media, search engines, websites, forums and others). In turn, large-scale operations can analyse this valuable data and create comprehensive customer profiles, allowing them to personalise their products to meet and anticipate the needs of their target audience. This is an excellent way to enforce brand loyalty and keep customers coming back, which is cheaper and more profitable than getting new customers.

We live in truly modern times, thanks to the advent of IoT making everything smart. As you can see, strategic adoption of IoT in large-scale operations has a significant impact, from improved productivity and safety to an increase in profitability and savings. However, each business is unique and there is no off-the-shelf IoT solution that suits everyone, making it all the more important to invest in something tailored to the peculiarities of each operation.

Jane Lai

By Jane Lai

‍Research writer for DegreeSign, finding and developing informative and helpful guides covering new technologies and future products.