How to distinguish worthless from valuable IoT solutions

These days it has become almost commonplace to integrate Internet connectivity in practically any kind of consumer product. Sometimes it’s clever, but in many cases the gains are questionable.

“Most often the initial idea is fine, but people tend to focus on the technical opportunities of their device without really considering how it will end up working in context. They often forget to carefully think out the involvement of the users and how to gain knowledge from the large amount of collected data,” explains Morten Georg Jensen, who is an Innovation and Test Engineer at Attention and who has project managed a variety of different IoT projects.

What is IoT

In very general terms there are two kinds of IoT:

The active:

The product is connected to the Internet and is capable of sending product and measured data to a server. Example: a device provides data on the content of garbage bins in public areas, and the crew only needs to empty the ones filled to a certain level.

The reactive:

Is the same as the active but with the added feature that the collected data is exchanged on the server for other information. In return the device is fed with this data, which permits a higher performance or an autonomous reaction. Example: A washing machine connected to the Internet where it examines the power prices. When the price is low, the machine starts washing.

Data is (not always) power

“If you are planning to add IoT functionality to your product, it’s important to seriously consider how it fits into your business case, and how it adds value to the product. Some developers get data greedy – they just collect massive amounts of data without knowing how to handle it or basically what to use it for,” says Morten Georg Jensen and outlines three overall ways to use IoT data:

  1. To get information about performance of the product to be used in learning the pattern of use, improving performance of future models or for optimizing service visits
  2. To get information about – for instance – the environment in which the product is situated, could be weather conditions, to be used by the company itself or by a third party
  3. The reactive IoT: to get information, which is automatically analyzed, and the result is used for collection of new data, which is sent back to the product, thereby improving its performance
    Without a thorough product and user analysis involving designers and researchers it is hard to predict if the IoT functionality will create value, and Attention’s experience is often that the product is better off without.

Every case has it’s own needs, which complicates outlining general criteria for the perfect IoT product. But when it turns out to be relevant to continue development with IoT, it usually has very interesting potential.

Do you want to read more about IoT? The these two articles might be interesting for you as well: Benefits from products connected to the Internet (according to our IoT-expert) / The most worrying issues when considering IoT

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