2 September 2014
Demystifying the connected world
A ‘top 10’ guide to creating a successful connected product
A new guide from product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants aims to demystify the world of connected devices. It highlights the top 10 things companies need to consider when creating the new generation of products for the so-called ‘Internet of Things’.
The trend of creating connected devices is affecting nearly every industry – from a pharmaceutical company that wants a wireless inhaler to measure patient compliance; to a sporting goods manufacturer wanting to offer performance and technique tracking; or a lighting and heating controls company aiming to enable smart homes and offices.
The guide is aimed at companies that are new to creating connected products – identifying the potential pitfalls awaiting the unwary and helping them avoid making costly mistakes.
Take batteries, for example – each battery only contains a certain amount of energy from each charge, so deciding how to use it is key. Will your customers be willing to charge their device every day or do you need a single coin cell battery to last a month or two? Or longer? Your power ‘budget’ will be affected by a whole host of things. Simply changing the frequency of a blinking LED, for example, can double battery life.
Antennas are easy to overlook – but hard to get right if you want to push the performance of a device. Off-the-shelf antennas will typically involve a compromise between performance and the size of your product. Custom antennas will be more expensive and time consuming to develop but usually result in a better device. The key is to decide the relative importance of size and performance, and what your customers will accept.
The right algorithm can also make the difference between success and failure. If you simply want your device to measure temperature, a simple sensor will do and no analysis is required. But if you want to determine how high you’ve jumped, you’ll need to apply an algorithm to the data coming from your sensors to calculate the answer. For medical devices, the algorithm is often the critical element that yields the diagnostic result.
“We work with a wide variety of clients who want to understand how they can 'get connected' and make the most of the trend of the Internet of Things for their business,” said Rob Milner, head of smart systems technology at Cambridge Consultants. “The one thing they all have in common is a desire to provide customers with a differentiated, more intuitive user experience.
“A connected system is a way of increasing a consumer’s engagement with a brand and providing additional benefits – either through the device itself or through new services enabled by the data collected via the connected product. This can give significant competitive edge in a crowded marketplace.
“We created this guide to help companies understand the 10 most important things for creating a successful connected device system that will add value to their products and open up new revenue streams. It’s been written off the back of our successful product developments for clients around the world, which sometimes involves picking up the pieces of earlier failed attempts by others. We hope this report helps companies avoid the most common – and costly – mistakes.”
To help clients rapidly bring to life their ideas for connected devices – often referred to as ‘appcessories’ – Cambridge Consultants has launched an interactive workshop, complete with its own ‘Appcessory Toolkit’. In just one day a team of experts, tailor-made for each project, captures the key requirements of a client’s new product and demonstrates the impact of different design decisions – highlighting the complex trade-offs between size, power, cost and performance. The client leaves at the end of the day with a physical model of their product idea – as well as an understanding of its performance and the best way to develop it.
Download a copy of the guide – The ‘top 10 issues’ guide to creating a successful connected device – at: www.CambridgeConsultants.com/connected-device-guide
Cambridge Consultants develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology-critical issues for clients worldwide. For more than 50 years, the company has been helping its clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. With a team of more than 700 staff, including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and designers, in offices in Cambridge (UK), Boston (USA) and Singapore, Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, digital health, oil and gas, and wireless communications.
Cambridge Consultants is part of Altran, a global leader in engineering and R&D services which offers its clients a new way to innovate. Altran works alongside its clients on every link in the value chain of their project, from conception to industrialisation. In 2015, the Altran group generated revenues of €1.945bn. With a headcount of more than 27,000 employees, Altran is present in more than 20 countries. For more information, visit www.altran.com.
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