A nine-step guide to design and build Internet of Things solutions

A growing number of companies are turning to the internet of things (IoT) to enhance the way they operate. Experts from Metyis outline how to get started.

The internet of things is a concept that describes physical objects (or groups of objects) embedded with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data over the internet.

The concept allows physical objects to communicate with the digital world, creating a network of data insights that can lead to improvements and advancements in multiple fields. The internet of things is today already found widespread in homes, vehicles, medical areas, factories and more – but as the technology matures, the number of use cases is growing by the day.

Building an internet of things network is however easier said than done. Based on the pioneering work Metyis is conducting in the internet of things landscape, experts from the consultancy outline a nine-step journey that guide the successful development and deployment of IoT solutions:

1. Requirements definition
Each IoT network is unique in its specifications, requiring the manufacturing of custom technology, called embedded systems, a combination of computer hardware and software. Key is to make sure that the requirements definition are framed, and that both business and technical capabilities are brought together to address achieve the desired end state with a system solution.

2. Block designs
The first step is to create the whiteboard block designs that form the architecture for the device, depicting the different components and how they will function together.

3.Firmware development and prototype assembly
The team then develops the firmware that will run inside the device, determining its behavior and communication protocol. Firmware development is an ongoing process; though all boards are prepared to be fully functional, certain functionalities are added at various stages depending on the project needs.

4. Prototype plot
During the prototyping phase the focus is on developing an industrialized product. This prototype demonstrates the possibilities of connecting sensors to the internet.

5. Schematic designs
The schematic designs provide a more detailed view of all the components in the system, and how they are connected. It also includes the data flow and definition of which signals have been assigned. A schematic can also contain a list of revisions indicating alterations to the original design.

6. Printed circuit board design phase
Advancing into the printed circuit board design phase, schematic designs are translated into physical connections by taking pre-existing chips and transforming them into electronic boards, installing and distributing the components on the board, and defining their sizes. Samples are then made with industrialization in mind.

7. Printed circuit board production
In this phase the production of the printed circuit board begins. The printed circuit board is the bed that will receive all the components; these are compiled and customized, readying it to undergo an industrialized pilot.

8. Functional testing
The system then goes through rigorous testing, debugging and validation phases to ensure the efficiency of the device and its safety. Trust is of the utmost significance for any IoT solution, which can be vulnerable to information attacks.

9. Industrialized pilot
The pilot validates whether what is produced is capable of industrialization, if the IoT network will work in the desired environment, and if the device can be mass-produced.

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