They said technology was all about connecting people. Cut to a few decades later and here we are experiencing the connecting of devices to offer us humans some of the most convenient solutions to problems. In the list of tech breakthroughs of our times, IoT does have a special place as it is rewriting conventions across industries and helping us evolve better as a race. It is through IoT that cities are ambitioned to become smart cities, power grids as smart grids, cars as autonomous cars and more.
As more devices get connected to the internet and among each other, what we would need is a universal approach to interacting with machines. Input devices like the mouse and the keyboard are becoming obsolete by the day (except for some specialized applications) and gradually, gestures and computer vision are becoming the norm. With the bridge between the real world and virtual world getting stronger and wider, IoT design becomes inevitable to interact with devices, systems and architecture.
This post is all about the most important IoT design principles ou need to know. If you are an IoT specialist, UI/UX designer or an aspiring techpreneur with visions on investing in IoT, this post is a must-read.
Let’s get started.
What Is IoT Design?
IoT design is a specialized approach in delivering experiences to users with respect to IoT ecosystems. Instead of relying on conventional design principles, IoT design is all about taking a very specific approach to designing IoT experiences, interactions and everything in between. From logic flow and input of data to how results should be displayed to users, IoT design is about all of it.
At this point, it is also important to understand that IoT design extends beyond designing IoT applications, where emphasis is placed on UI, UX, color schemes and more. This design is broader and more inclusive, featuring aspects such as IoT tools, architecture, cloud systems, operating modules and more.
Why Does IoT Design Matter?
IoT is relatively a new stream despite being a popular one. There is no SOP, a templated approach or a conventional strategy to design IoT systems and processes. The development of all solutions is case-basis, where solutions, features, modules and more are designed and deployed based on project requirements.
However, as the technology evolves, streamlining of interactions, processing and delivery of results becomes inevitable for universal understanding. Though each IoT ecosystem will have its own set of devices and peripherals, IoT design ensures a meaningful collaboration happens among devices in an ecosystem so users always have a clear understanding of their networks and devices.
Now, this could sound challenge from the outlook but to make things simpler for you, here are some tried and tested IoT design principles you need to be familiar with.
10 IoT Design Principles You Can’t Overlook In 2021
Do Research on Your Target Audience?
IoT development is more about experiences and services than products. So, it all boils down to users and how they perceive and interact with devices either independently or collectively. That’s why it is important to understand your target audiences before you get started with designing an IoT ecosystem.
Understanding your target audience will tell you the most ideal ways to deliver results (as visuals, charts or videos), take data as input, about the learning curve involved in operating an IoT device, the average age of your audience and whether you need tutorials and walkthroughs to orient them to your IoT bubble and more. Doing an extensive research on your target audience will also help you understand their pain points and reverse engineer solutions as well.
Work On Delivering Contextual Experiences
Right now, there is a vague understanding of the concept of IoT. People only know that devices connected to the internet (and each other) constitute an IoT ecosystem. They are either completely unfamiliar with how IoT works or have misconceptions about it.
Mass adoption of IoT can only be possible when this understanding is clear and thorough. Consumers will go an extra mile in integrating IoT systems into their lives when they know how it works and the intricacies involved. That’s why you should work on delivering contextual experiences more than personalizing experiences.
Delivering contextual experience empowers them with the knowledge of how that particular implementation solves their problems and elevates their lifestyle. This approach creates a long-term demand for your IoT-enabled products.
Focus On Creating Value
The onset of any new concept, product or service fetches reactions from two types of people — those who can’t wait to get hands on with it and those who are reluctant to use it. While it is easy to captivate the former, it is the skeptical souls who are more difficult to convince.
That’s why your IoT solutions need to offer tangible and almost instant benefits that could outweigh their initial hesitation on using your solution. When you do this, users would automatically swarm in to experience your systems.
For that, answer some basic questions on the value you are about to deliver through your systems, the real issues your customers are facing, existing solutions and their loopholes, barriers to adopting your technology and solution and more.
Leverage The Use of Prototype
One setback tech expert is still experiencing with IoT solutions is that an established IoT ecosystem is difficult to upgrade or modify. With devices and applications in their place, it is extremely difficult to replace devices, introduce new ones or even modify system software.
That’s why you need to be extremely careful when you decide to go live with your solution. Before you do, launch prototypes, get users to work on it, accumulate feedback, optimize solutions, eliminate errors and make iterations after iterations until it can’t be optimized anymore. Your last iteration is your customers’ first interaction. So, make it count and effective.
Prioritize Security First
IoT is ultimately a digital solution to physical, real-world problems. Like you know, digital systems come with their own set of concerns with respect to safety and security. With IoT dealing with tons of confidential data that could go as personal as the purchasing power of an individual (and other sensitive data), your priority should be on building the most airtight IoT solution for the market.
Implement IoT design mechanisms that identify and eliminate concerns before they creep in. Ensure data integrity and security at all times and deploy edge computing wherever possible for seamless security.
Effective Data Management
Extending the previous point slightly, let’s acknowledge that your IoT system is going to generate massive amounts of data every second or minute. Now, this does not mean that you should end up storing every single byte of it. This is where logic comes in. You could work on collecting, storing and processing only the data that is required for processing and delete everything else.
When a data scientist works on a dataset, they spend close to 80% of their time cleaning it. You could easily eliminate this by collecting and storing only relevant data that would complement your IoT ecosystem. This makes your systems faster and you could easily deploy devices that have low latency, memory and battery concerns.
Consider Human Connection
IoT is a great concept to bring people together and talk about matters that deserve attention. Your solutions should empower people in their own ways and not step inside their own bubbles. While it is true that you are connecting people and devices, the ultimate goal is to connect people over common causes together.
Consider smart cities for instance. With IoT, people can be empowered with the information of how much energy they consume on a daily or hourly basis. Comparing their insights to that of their neighbors will pave the way for power conservation races. In a disguised way, you are making a set of strangers interact without the knowledge of each other.
Work On Branding
Branding is what will make people come to you and try your solutions out. In a world of depleting attention spans, your efforts should grab eyeballs and make them try your solutions. Apart from the value delivery aspect, your brand should speak of credibility in the market. The trust your customers would have on your brand will gradually transition to the trust towards the whole concept of IoT. This is how you become a pioneer in your market or industry. So, work on your branding such as logos, messaging, principles, core beliefs, tone and language and more and use all these to connect with your customers.
Have A Bird’s Eye View of IoT Systems?
Communication in an IoT ecosystem is not linear. It is a cobweb of interconnected devices with multiple touch points. That’s why your IoT design should be holistic in nature. Meaning, every single device in your system must be properly defined in terms of how users interact with it. The experience should be omnichannel and not subjected to one particular device alone.
For instance, in a home automation system, the impact smart locks leave in the mind of the user should be the same as what smart illumination systems leave. This is how a universal experience can be delivered.
Apply Existing UI Expertise to Solutions
In the beginning, we mentioned that IoT design goes beyond conventional UI and UX practices. However, that doesn’t mean that you unlearn the basics and what is already established. A wise IoT designer would always build on foundations, working on tailoring solutions to meet demands and requirements. The understanding of what is to come can only be made possible with the knowledge of what we have today. This blend can help you unlock newer designing potential and deliver seamless experiences.
Examples Of Stunning IoT Designs
IoT Enabled Tracking and Monitoring System From DHL
After doing an extensive research on the use cases of IoT in the logistics industry, DHL and Cisco came up with an IoT-driven model to track the movement of their logistics in real-time. With the primary challenge on managing information flow and the flow of fleets, a pilot was launched by DHL and Huawei to deliver close to 12mn logistics to China.
In this, every batch of the logistics was embedded with a chip that used cellular IoT to connect to the internet and share details such as their location in real time. Separate tracking modules were deployed at the receiving end of the docks as well. Real-time analysis of data dictated drivers to reach the most appropriate dock in time.
However, with projects of such scale, data security becomes challenging yet crucial. That’s why the biggest takeaway from the pilot was to design data flow and exchange with great attention to detail for safety. Proxy-enabled devices like sensors cut off middlemen and intruders from hacking devices and gaining access to data.
Based on the scientific fact that the human iris is unique for every single individual in the world, Eyelock designs, develops and sells advanced security systems for commercial and home applications. The lock system uses iris biometrics to offer and limit access to stakeholders. The IoT-enabled ecosystem works in tandem with an application, sensors, authorization modules and more to deliver impeccable security. With a totally different mode of interaction, Eyelock has a seamless IoT design in place.
SimpliSafe Home Security
This is an ecosystem of home security solutions that personalises devices based on users’ sensor and security requirements. It includes a base station that acts as the brain of the system with 24 hours power backup, burglary sensors, panic buttons, glass break sensors, extra sirens, motion detectors, cameras, video-enabled doorbells and more. The extensive range of home automation systems has all possible combinations of human-machine interfaces and seamlessly brings every element together with its airtight design.
So, these were the 10 crucial IoT design principles you need to be familiar with. These factors will help you build credible solutions that offer enriching insights and bring in healthy lifestyle changes. Implement them and bring in a new breed of IoT systems in the market.
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