Design is a hugely important component in IoT development- of that we have no doubt.
A successful deployment however, rests on an entirely different set of assumptions, experiences, and …I must say…human beings. A successful program deployment rests on the heels of a different set of skill sets and tools.
We’re building technology for people, and it is important to understand this dynamic that resides outside of firmware. Hallsten Innovations has experienced many complete development cycles and successes, and made people happy.
Let’s talk about 3 groups of people that you need to consider at launch time.
#1 Consider your Network Provider Team
Working with a dedicated engineering team at Verizon (read about the M1 launch here) or the like to manage Proof of Concept of your IoT device includes a lot of handholding and support. Getting that first device, or even those first 10 test devices into the field can be euphoric to the dev team.
However, pushing 1,000 devices to the same network (or even a set of internal WiFi networks) involves a DIFFERENT SET OF PEOPLE… they most likely view your project as a chore, instead of an opportunity. So be wary.
Hallsten Innovations negotiates better rates with leveraged buying power on Verizon and has a voice that a smaller customer does not. This experience in managing/negotiating rates, and in organizational program management is a leading reason our clients stay with us. Knowing the roles, being fretfully organized, and knowing the methods can make your deployment a success.
#2 Those Pesky End Users
Consumer IoT Applications require you to rely on people you don’t know, nor have ever met. They may have limited technical ability and may be biased against technology before you even get started.
Relying on that customer’s home network’s ability to make easy device connections is not a reliable method for user connectivity.
Clear and Tested Documentation (app/web/video/paper) can change your deployment from a failure to an undeniable success.
In the design phase, consider how to alleviate technical hurdles. Leverage zero-config networking such as Bonjour, use certified stacks like HomeKit or Nest to let devices connect seamlessly. If your devices don’t have screens make sure you’ve provided a mechanism for users to understand the device behavior such as a multi-color indication LED.
Consider platforms like the Electric Imp whose “blink up” functionality that can configure Wi-Fi access easily.
Alternatively, an app that pairs to devices over bluetooth or NFC can easily push settings and configuration data to make deployments and provisioning easier.
As the adage suggests, practice makes perfect and doing mock installations with users will make sure that the documentation is in order! Hire your mother-in-law to test- and her friends. If you want a real test, some of our Hallsten Innovations team members have mothers-in-laws that they are willing to donate to your cause.
#3 Those Hidden in the Shadows
Recently I was at a panel and talked with an individual in charge of IoTing factories energy and water efficient by deploying thousands of sensors. On the topic of security he said “I want to get all of the data from my devices, I don’t want to be encumbered by having to manage security..my strategy is, use unique nondescript names and assume that the signal can’t escape the building.”
Let me say this: Security through obfuscation is not security. This is a poor strategy because:
- Firmware updates can make you vulnerable to malicious attacks (get access to one edge device and can reflash the entire network)
- Data can be mapped even if ID is not mapped by behavioral analysis
- Data can be manipulated, or devices spoofed and cause issues
Protecting your device and device network is often an add-on to a project, instead of a crucial component. Keeping the bad guys out is not just a nicety, at Hallsten Innovations it is an absolute requirement.
Hallsten Innovations has experience in full spectrum IoT projects. From electronic design, to launch, and from provisioning to fleet management. We’re happy to assist in your launch to make your Internet of Things project a success in the field.