Connected Device Engineering
Device – Networking – Control
Connected devices include all of the computing gadgets that connect to the internet to transmit data, perform tasks and fulfill their value proposition. One general class of connected devices includes those with sophisticated user interfaces, such as smartphones, laptops, security panels, vehicles and smart speakers. These generally act as the gateway to the internet for devices with more limited user interfaces, like smartwatches or headphones, which may only have an on/off and simple push buttons. The other class of connected devices is the “things” that constitute the Internet of Things. Broadly speaking, internet-connected devices — including smart thermostats, trackers, smart doorbells and locks, security monitoring systems, smart refrigerators, industrial sensors, etc. — can provide sense and/or control capabilities that are managed through the cloud. These smart gadgets can further be classified into markets such as smart home, industrial IoT, fleet tracking/management, health care and everything in between.
Connected Device Design
Designing the “Things” of the IoT requires a team with skills in hardware, embedded software and often antenna design. Electrical hardware engineers focus on function, optimizing the bill of materials (BOM), and ensuring the device can be manufactured without any supply chain issues. Embedded software engineers are responsible for developing all of the device’s features, including power optimization as well as any AI/ML done on the edge. The more specialized RF engineers optimize communications to meet the device’s requirements and shepherd it through FCC certification. For more information about what goes into designing connected devices, please continue to the Considerations for Connected Device Development section below.
While this page focuses on connected devices and what you should expect during the connected device development process, at Cardinal Peak, we provide end-to-end engineering services for connected devices and cloud applications. If you have an idea for a connected device that you need help designing or developing, let us know — we are happy to share our knowledge and experience with you!
Connected Device Design and Engineering Case Studies
As a leading connected device engineering company, Cardinal Peak supports innovative connected device engineering services, including connectivity, cloud, edge AI/ML, and IoT app development. If you’re looking for a partner to help bring your internet-connected thing to life, check out the projects below and contact us today.
Resources for Connected Device Design and Engineering
If you’re seeking more detailed information on the technologies involved in connected engineering, the steps that make up the connected device development process or the unique aspects of connected device engineering services in the smart home sector, peruse the following webpages for additional information.
Ready to begin building your connected device? This informative webpage guides you along the path to successful connected device engineering, from ideation and connected device design through testing, certification, the product’s launch and ongoing support.
Considerations for Connected Device Development
The first step in any connected device development process is ensuring the validity of the business model. To evaluate your business model, it’s important to compare your connected device development or engineering costs to your anticipated revenue. Costs can be broken into two categories, including nonrecurring engineering (NRE) and operational costs, which include manufactured cost of goods as well as ongoing cloud costs. Cardinal Peak can help estimate all these costs before the design process starts so that you can validate your business model.
In addition to the standard device engineering activities, our electrical engineers are focused on BOM and supply chain analyses. Since it is crucial that the manufactured cost meets targets and that the parts are available for manufacturing, we typically negotiate prices for key components before leveraging those components in our connected device design. These agreements are later transferred to the purchasing agent at the manufacturer.
A unique capability at Cardinal Peak is our RF design experience. While not always required, customers frequently look for superior RF performance, which requires a custom antenna design. We have designed custom antennas for a wide variety of internet-connected products. While a custom antenna design can greatly outperform stock antennas, customization comes with the additional burden of FCC certification. Our engineers can manage the entire certification process.
To ensure secure connected device engineering and embedded software, it’s important to design in the ability to apply software updates and patches to deployed equipment. Design in over-the-air software update capabilities because no matter how secure a product is at launch, a software vulnerability will eventually be identified. Establish a secure root of trust and design a system that prevents would-be hackers from loading unauthorized firmware. Additionally, encryption should be layered on top to ensure user data privacy.
For audio and video devices, latency and fidelity are general concerns. Check out our Video System Design for Police Radar Product and Engineering a True Wireless Earbud System case studies to learn more about our significant audio and video experience.
Our deep understanding of cloud applications helps us design connected products to minimize cloud costs. While the cost of an individual cloud transaction is minuscule, having thousands of devices in the field sending frequent packets to the cloud can lead to significant monthly spending with a cloud provider. At Cardinal Peak, we work to minimize the amount of data that needs to go to the cloud, whether through the use of machine learning/artificial intelligence at the edge to process the data locally or via more elaborate designs to ensure only the necessary data is sent to the cloud. For example, we developed a home video camera system that preprocessed the video and only uploaded short clips when alarms were triggered, while the rest of the data was stored on the camera. When users clicked on the alarm video thumbnail in the app, the video immediately started playing the clip from the cloud and a connection directly to the camera was initiated behind the scenes to continue streaming video beyond the uploaded clip, saving enormous cloud costs while providing a system with exceedingly low latency.
At Cardinal Peak, our experienced and talented engineers and architects help companies across industries to develop and maintain connected devices and products. We work on every aspect of connected device engineering, including the cloud, hardware and embedded software, and understand how to minimize both the device bill of materials and the long-term cloud costs. With this level of expertise, we possess the skills and experience necessary to design and develop connected devices capable of thriving in today’s networked ecosystems.
FAQs About Connected Device Development
What is a connected device?
Connected devices are wireless devices that communicate with other devices and systems via the internet. Devices that connect to the internet are often referred to as Internet of Things (IoT) devices or connected devices. A device that only connects to a smartphone, however, is a connected device but not an IoT device.
What is connected device engineering?
The engineering development process for connected devices and IoT devices are comparable. The first step in connected device design and engineering is envisioning the product’s value proposition (ideation) and documenting the features that need to be implemented (the requirements). When engineering a connected device, remember to identify the data that needs to be collected, processed and displayed so that the wireless interface(s) can be described. With a good interface description, device and application development can proceed in parallel as engineers work on the API (application programming interface). As features are implemented, the system begins undergoing regular QA testing for each new feature and regression testing for previously developed features. Once complete, testing expands to alpha testing (“friends and family”) then beta testing (small set of customers), and any manufacturing test and configuration tools are prepared. Finally, the product is released. As widespread user data comes back and the marketing team sees what resonates with customers, features are added or tweaked and pushed out through OTA updates.
What are some important connected device engineering requirements?
Connected devices are naturally complex. These complicated systems require detailed knowledge of communications protocols, security standards, data collection, edge AI/ML and analytics. Plus, since many internet-connected products are high volume, designing to minimize both the device bill of materials and any long-term cloud costs is vital.
Embedded with processing chips, software and sensors, connected devices require connectivity, data processing and an intuitive user interface to collect data and share information with other devices and systems. When it comes to connected device development or engineering, there are a couple of additional technological concerns of which engineers must also be aware:
- energy usage
- connected device security
- over-the-air (OTA) updates
Device Engineering Resources
As IoT devices continue to proliferate, knowing how to build ML/AI applications at the edge is increasing in importance. This blog post highlights the steps involved in utilizing the OpenMV Cam to build these forward-thinking applications.
From connectivity, flexibility and scalability to automation, efficiency and collaboration, connected device engineering delivers significant value that helps move businesses across industries into our increasingly digital future.
With connected devices becoming increasingly ubiquitous, connected device development is more important than ever. In this post, our experts detail various considerations involved throughout the process of device engineering.