The Internet of Things (IoT) has ushered in a new era of technological innovation, transforming the way businesses operate and interact with their customers. With custom connected products, businesses can create solutions that are tailored to their specific needs, providing unique opportunities for them to differentiate themselves in the market.
One critical consideration for businesses looking to add connected products to their portfolio is whether to use a custom device or an off-the-shelf product. There are advantages and disadvantages to both that should be considered based on your company’s needs.
In this article, we will focus on the benefits of custom devices and how they can bring value to a business and its products.
Personalization + Unique User Interface
One significant benefit of custom devices is the ability to provide a personalized and unique user interface. We often see this in the healthcare industry, where products require a specific interface for an application to fulfill their needs.
For example, a custom-designed medical device can deliver faster results and more accurate diagnoses through high-speed data processing and analysis. This level of customization can enable the device to perform multiple functions and integrate into existing systems and workflows. Additionally, a tailored user interface can provide a more intuitive and user-friendly experience, reducing the risk of errors and improving efficiency.
Another advantage of custom devices is the flexibility to add specific product features, such as battery life. Unlike standardized products, not every application requires the same duration of battery power. Some may require a lifespan of one year, some only a day, while others may require a decade. With customized devices, you can store data locally, helping to preserve battery life and extend the lifespan of your product.
Connected products often require customized designs that are designed to overcome the unique constraints of different environments.
For example, connected devices used in remote outdoor locations for mining, construction, or agriculture require electronics that can perform reliably across a wide temperature range, and may also need to monitor and adjust their performance based on temperature fluctuations.
On the other hand, body-worn devices face different challenges, such as dealing with the complexities of size, weight, usability, and the unpredictability of being attached to a human.
When it comes to connected products, relying on just one type of wireless technology might not be enough. Different wireless technologies have different strengths and limitations, such as their range, data capacity, power usage, and specific applications.
For instance, if you need to cover a long distance, you might need to leverage a technology like LoRa instead of the standard Bluetooth offering. One example where LoRa would be useful is in monitoring water quality in streams and rivers. The sensor could be placed half a mile away from the gateway that is being used to receive and report the data. Something that is only possible by combining the value from different emerging technologies.
Different Types of Sensing
Custom devices also provide the capability to sense different things based on your product’s specific requirements, such as motion, temperature, light, proximity, and more.
For example, a vibration sensor can monitor the operational status of a product, or a light sensor can determine when to conserve energy by turning off the lights during the day and switching them on at night. This is demonstrated in the custom IoT lighting solution we developed for Lutron. Custom devices can meet unique demands that are impossible to achieve using standard off-the-shelf alternatives.
Integrating into an Existing Product
At times, businesses may want to add a sensor to their existing product. This was the case with our client Charity Water. They have over 50,000 wells worldwide that are being used to provide clean drinking water to communities in developing nations. Instead of replacing the wells to monitor their functionality, we created retrofittable sensors for the pumps. These sensors were designed to detect both current and future pump failures through custom sensing.
They also needed to have a long battery life and endure harsh environmental conditions like water, high temperatures, and cold nights. Through a custom sensor, we fulfilled stakeholder needs and maintained clean running water at 2 percent of the overall cost of the pump. And these sensors connect to a custom user interface where stakeholders can see data about the water pumps from different locations around the world.
Take a Holistic Approach and Unlock New Value
Custom IoT solutions offer businesses the ability to create personalized devices that meet their customers’ unique needs, while also standing out in a crowded market. But connected devices on their own won’t necessarily add value to a business. To truly benefit from IoT technology, a strategic approach is necessary.
We believe that before you can answer the question “how will we build it?” you should answer “what deserves to be built?” We have one collective team that can take you from stakeholder research and immersion into the development of the full IoT solution (including the user interface, hardware, software, cloud platform, and overall user experience). By taking a collaborative, cross-functional approach, we’re able to deliver IoT solutions that are tailored to each client’s unique needs.
Looking for a custom IoT solution? Let’s connect.
Connect to possibility
IoT empowers you to create products that delight your customers, outperform your competition, and solve complex problems.Learn more