Key Steps of Embedded/ IoT Product Development Life Cycle
Embedded solutions have become a vital component of almost all devices that we use daily. These include mobile phones, home appliances, medical equipment and more. The need for development of specialized embedded solutions or IoT products has scaled up exponentially. Due to the ever-evolving landscape of new age technology and applications, the developmentprocess for such products and applications becomes very complex and requires domain expertise.
The product development life cycle for IoT and embedded products includes 4 key stages:
- Planning & Analysis
Stage 1 - Planning and Analysis
The first step of the development life cycle for any product is to clearly define the product/ application idea and transform it into a successful concept.
At this stage we have to finalize the following:
(a)The Purpose or Need – Any process starts with a particular purpose, and it requires you to build an entirely new solution. Sometimes it might require re-engineering an already existing solution by adding robust functionality or launching a new version. Understanding the need is of vital importance.
(b)Target Audience – When you have defined the need, you have to focus on identifying your target audience which is crucial to understand who the end users are. This provides us the following data:
- End users/ customers
- Features of your end users such age, profession, gender etc.
- In what scenarios and circumstances your end users need your product
- How much benefits
(c)Understanding Requirements – An ideal embedded product focuses on solving specific challenges and you should understand the requirements in regard to its functionality. Always ensure that requirements are met before initiating the development.
(d)Working on Core Requirements – During the research of your target audience, focus on the data to be collected that can help you define the purpose of the product, the functional model and the necessary software and hardware components.
(e)Competitors – When there is a planning and analysis phase, it is important to get acquainted with the experience of your competitors. You can learn from their experiences and also mistakes. This helps take a proven product development approach and ensures success.
Stage 2 - Designing
Focusing on design of the prototype at this stage, you have to choose a development approach that will enable you to successfully implement the product idea within scope and budget.
The approach focuses on:
(a)Architecture – This starts with creating the product architecture, which reflects hardware and software components and also its combination to ensure the performance of the target device and its functions.
(b)Technical Resources – You can choose tools and technologies to develop the proof-of-concept model, which will help prove the feasibility of the idea.(c)Development Kits – For the purpose of building embedded and IoT prototypes, use hardware platforms and development kits or boards that have integrated software such as:
- Application Processor Kits
- Breakout Boards
- Processor Modules
- Microcontroller Kits
Pay attention to the following key features, when choosing a development board:
- Connectors to bring out microcontroller pins
- Communication peripherals and on-board sensors (fuel sensors, accelerometers, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.)
(d)Software Development Tools – You have to choose embedded software development tools such as:
- Operating systems (RTOS, Linux)
- IDES, SDKs (WebStorm, Qt Creator, PyCharm), debuggers and compilers
(e)Development Team – Assembling development team includes technical specialist such as:
- PCB Layout Engineer
- Hardware Engineer
- Mechanical Engineer
- Embedded Software Engineer
Step 3 - Implementation
It’s time to turn your concept into reality. This phase of implementation is about improving the present quality of product solution and preparing it for production.
(a)Alpha Prototype – You get an alpha prototype after you integrate your devices hardware components on a printed circuit board. This raw product requires certain adjustments and reveals functional issues.
(b)Beta Prototype – By extending and addressing any issues of the product by new features, you will get a beta prototype.
Stage 4 -Launching Product to Production
This is the stage where real-life products can be launched to production. Once the boards have been tested and assembled, they can be delivered to users. During the embedded product development life cycle, post-production support and maintenance is a necessary activity.
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