How the Internet of Things has changed product design

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing how we connect to the world around us and it is continuously expanding. In fact, estimate that by 2020, there will be about 20 to 50 billion connected devices, which is huge.

IoT is influencing a whole range of industries, and this includes product design. This term is essentially a bit of a catch-all for any device that’s “smart” enabled, from kettles to cars.

Technological advances are influencing every step of product design, from conception to creation. Take a look at some of the ways IoT is changing product design below.

From linear to circular product design

Traditional product development has always been fairly linear and has always followed quite a clear path from idea to physical product. However, the persistent challenge has been to gather and feed customer input back into processes further up the product development chain.

In comparison, IoT product development allows for a more circular approach where products are created more intuitively and data on how products are used can fed back to manufacturers in real time, allowing for iterative correction and rapid design improvement based on that data.

Businesses can gain real-time data regarding the habits and profiles of their consumers, which is incredibly valuable, especially for those creating big money items. Even smart vending machines now exist, which can record which products sell the most and which times are the busiest allowing for analysis of what to stock in them. Products themselves can also send feedback to brands and developers about how they are being used once bought, through simple processes of their owners allowing the device to send snippets of data to the brand.

Another bonus of IoT is that companies that invest in smart technology have the added advantage of troubleshooting issues more quickly, saving the company valuable time and money with regards to maintenance or repairs. An example of this is supermarketing fridges and freezers, which can now have built in censors which send an alert when there is a fault. In this instance, if a particular unit malfunctions, the store can then send that specific unit out for maintenance instead of testing each individual one and wasting time.

Technology and Internet of Things is also helping businesses to automate more systems, which saves time and money due to increased efficiency but also helps keep workloads manageable.

From a consumer perspective, we are now able to track delivery drivers to see where our package is, whilst employers can be satisfied that their fleet drivers are safe thanks to the increased development of driver telematics.

Product design has been shaped by IoT more than we realise, and when designing and creating a product we must give consideration into how this type of technology might improve a product or offer the ability to obtain valuable data from users in the future. From a business perspective, this is a huge benefit and makes way for increased possibility to be able to understand exacting consumer wants and needs.

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