Jon Darley

Director of Things


There is a reason hardware is called hardware. It’s hard!

In our recent survey of more than 1000 enterprises across international markets, we found that 67% of IoT project failures can be traced back to an issue at the device level when it comes to connectivity issues.

Designing an IoT device can be overwhelming. Beyond the sensors it will have, the data it will collect, and how you plan to analyse it, there are many other factors to consider.

If you are in this position, you are not alone. Typically newcomers designing IoT hardware come across similar hurdles. Fortunately, these challenges can be overcome with specialist engineering knowledge and experience. Another survey by Eseye and Kaleido Intelligence found that hardware design complexity was no longer a major challenge for those who had already adopted IoT (4%).

So how do you go about designing a connected device? Regardless of its end-use, all devices from conception should follow three fundamental stages.

1.       Proof of concept (PoC)

The whole point in a PoC is to prove that the business idea works and the concept has practical potential. From the very start, you should factor connectivity in.

If the device is the driver of IoT project success, connectivity is the backbone; everything will depend on it.

During this stage, you will develop a physical PoC device that connects, gathers and exchanges the data you need. Understanding the device connectivity requirements and how these affect power consumption is crucial. Device design should optimise both efficient use of the battery and successful operation with the connectivity management provider.

Upon completing a PoC, you will have a vast amount of data which should help you to decide what sort of information is valuable, and whether your sensors are fit for purpose. This pilot project is a critical step. Here you can evaluate the success of the PoC and whether to invest further resources. 

2.       Prototyping

The second stage is to take the PoC and build a prototype of your real-end product.

Device prototyping is an essential stage in the development cycle but can present issues due to the time required. On average, it’s between 12 and 18 months but it can take as little as six to ten weeks if the device goes through a rapid prototyping approach.

Important design decisions will be finalised during prototyping, for example choosing the right battery and determining if you need power-saving features like NB-IoT and LTE-M, which offer Extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX) and Power Saving Mode (PSM) capabilities.

IoT protocols should also be considered, as they need to be built into the hardware. Given that there are no standardised IoT protocols in place, it is advised to work with a partner who can offer independent consultancy on the protocols your device will need for the long term (10 – 15 years or even longer).

During prototype development, your device will also go through a series of extensive testing to check its performance and ensure it’s ready for production.

3.       Production

During this final stage, you will see your initial idea become a reality. Insights drawn from the PoC and prototyping stages will inform the final specification for use in mass production of your device. 

After rigorous testing, any required refinements can be applied–whether that’s changing what type of data the sensors collect or refining the design itself. The insights mitigate financial and reputational risk and improve the likelihood of success for the final approved designs.

It’s worth considering how you can standardise and simplify production and development with a single stock-keeping unit (SKU). As a result, you will be able to track inventory, improve manufacturing efficiencies, and identify future profit opportunities if you want to enter new markets.

We recommend working with a single provider end-to-end from PoC to production – one that can accelerate the project with rapid prototyping and help you build a device that addresses your business needs, budget, and launch timeframe.

Here are some key design factors you should consider before deploying IoT:

Over 80% of IoT devices fail, don’t be another statistic

For help designing devices that connect everywhere, every time – get your hands on Eseye’s IoT device design eBook.

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Jon Darley

Director of Things


Jon is an IoT hardware expert with over thirty years of engineering experience. He is the driving force behind Eseye’s rapid prototyping approach, helping customers to reduce their time to market by 75% with a robust testing process.

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