IoT Rapid Prototyping with Plug-and-Play Solutions

BehrTech Blog

IoT Rapid Prototyping with Plug-and-Play Solutions

New development tools are giving rise to IoT rapid prototyping that requires minimal resources to validate your solution ideas

Building a market-ready solution requires significant time and money, not to mention the arduous certification process. No matter how confident you are with your idea; the stakes are high with many unanswered questions. Is it technically viable in a real-world environment? What features are customers looking for? Can all of these features be integrated into the final product? How easily can users interact with the solution? The list goes on.

That’s why all development journeys should start with prototyping. Rather than representing a full-fledged product or solution, a prototype incorporates only the core functionality and is built with inexpensive components. The goal here is to validate the feasibility of the product design, identify potential pitfalls and relevant modifications in the most-efficient fashion.

Rapid Prototyping in the IoT Era

From a strategic perspective, a prototype is a great foundation for executing an IoT Proof-of-Concept (PoC). Testing a prototype during the PoC phase, solution providers can ensure their product design and features are aligned with actual market needs. At the same time, IoT adopters can better assess whether the IoT solution is a good fit for their companies. The iterative prototyping process goes hand in hand with the feedback loops and testing cycles until the solution’s technical and commercial viability is fully ratified.

In the fast-changing IoT world, rapid prototyping has progressively taken the stage. Tech projects used to take years to move from conception to market. But in today’s incredible speed of technological advancement, companies simply can’t afford such long cycles. Rapid prototyping comes in handy as it involves minimal development time and costs while providing great flexibility in integrating adjustments along the line.

IoT Rapid Prototyping
5 Main Steps in the Recursive IoT Rapid Prototyping Process

IoT Rapid Prototyping with Plug-and-Play Tools

Often times, IoT prototypes don’t resonate with production-readiness. To keep up with the agility in rapid prototyping, you’ll probably prefer ease-of-use, flexibility and out-of-the-box, customized functionality over mass-scale availability of development tools. This means the hardware chosen for your prototypes most likely won’t be the same as what you end up with for production.

Companies like MikroElektronika have captured this specialized need by providing off-the-shelf tools that make IoT rapid prototyping easier than ever. Their mikroBUS™ open standard defines the physical layout of mainboard sockets and add-on boards used for interfacing microcontrollers or microprocessors with integrated circuits and modules. Simply put, the mikroBUS standard turns IoT hardware prototyping into a Lego play – where you can easily mix and match various available embedded modules on different compilers and development boards.

As it is an open standard, any vendors, or literally everyone can integrate mikroBUS into their board design. Microchip Technologies, NXP Semiconductors, Quectel and Avnet are just a few examples of vendors who’ve endorsed this standard. With hundreds of mikroBUS-compliant development and add-on boards available today, developers have the possibility to create numerous combinations of sensors, wireless transceivers, displays, amplifiers, interfaces and more. And it doesn’t just stop there. The ecosystem is growing year-by-year, giving you the best chance to build a prototype that fully caters to your use case.

But a prototype isn’t just about hardware. As with any functioning IoT product, it needs an embedded software and demo application that regulate its operations. Writing an application code is a demanding process. IoT devices come with even greater complexities, making any future changes almost impossible. Adding to this, a written code only supports a specific platform or microcontroller-unit (MCU) it was originally intended for. So, if you want to add new features and updates to your prototypes based on customers’ feedback, you’ll most likely have to completely rewrite the code.

Again, the mikroSDK (Software Development Kit) standard has provided a great solution to this challenge. MikroSDK specifies a set of standardized coding rules for developing the application code. By following this standard, you can make your application code reusable on any existing and future supported platforms and architectures, with virtually no hassle of code changes. Performance optimization and future upgrades are also much easier with a mikroSDK-compliant code.

Get Started with the MYTHINGS Rapid Prototyping Module

If you’re familiar with our MIOTY™ LPWAN technology and now want to prototype and test your IoT solution with MIOTY protocol, the MYTHINGS™ Rapid Prototyping Module by BehrTech is a great starting point. At its core, the module is a mikroBUS-compliant, preconfigured MIOTY RF click board. As such you can mix and match it with any other mikroBUS click boards of your choice, to quickly build your tailored sensor prototype. In our example rapid prototyping workflow, the hardware set up can take as little as one hour. We also provide a click library for mikroSDK to help you compile your mikroSDK-compliant application.

To wrap up, rapid prototyping tools now enable you to put your IoT ideas into a preliminary tangible product and verify its feasibility with minimal time and cost. An efficient prototyping process is the cornerstone for your product development journey, helping you chart next steps and quickly move to market with success.

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