The most successful loT products make Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity easy for end customers to set up and use. The lack of time and resources in companies with limited in-house wireless design expertise can lead to slipped delivery schedules and multiple product re-designs.
There are four typical stages of the wireless development process:
The development process can take up to a year to complete. Let’s discuss and highlight the unique challenges presented in each development stage.
In the firmware development stage, developers using unprogrammed modules must become experts in Bluetooth communication or Wi-Fi protocols and vendor-specific software stacks. In traditional Bluetooth and Wi-Fi design, developers must create an embedded host + network co-processor design with a communication link that operates at a low level controlling the network co-processor. Half of the development work includes writing firmware code and the other half is spent on testing.
Choosing the right hardware is a critical piece of wireless functionality and the integrity of system design. Using unprogrammed modules to add wireless connectivity to their products poses a variety of problems including potential delays, antenna design issues, and RF certification hurdles. FCC certification alone can cost thousands of dollars and take months of testing and validation. Good RF performance is a critical design challenge.
Mobile Applications Development
The mobile app development stage is often the most challenging for companies since many don’t have developers in house with mobile application experience. For this development stage, developers must become experts in both Android and iOS development, which means more APIs to understand. They often outsource to vendors who build the mobile infrastructure, perform testing, etc. which can be very time consuming and costly due to the difficulty in finding subject matter experts in both iOS and Android development.
This stage of product development is a critical one and can be challenging and prone to errors and potential launch delays that affect the success of the loT applications. Getting and maintaining reliable cloud connectivity and properly collecting data are huge concerns in loT applications today. It’s almost impossible for companies, especially small ones, to develop a cloud-connected framework/infrastructure from scratch. Developers also often have problems with unreliable links and connectivity and they might also be restricted by the MCU. Having reliable connectivity links is a critical piece of product longevity and customer satisfaction. Firmware updates are also an important part of product maintenance and are usually outsourced by companies. Using an integrated solution that already has the infrastructure for adding cloud connectivity can save developers months of framework development.
Benefits of Pre-Programmed Wireless Modules
loT developers today want robust functionality in the smallest footprint possible and they want solutions that support easy Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Leveraging integrated modules that already include pre-programmed firmware, pre-certified RF and hardware, easy mobile app framework, and cloud connectivity, streamlines the development process and takes the guesswork out of successful connectivity.
Key Points to Consider
Silicon Labs Wireless Xpress products, powered by Gecko OS, and application firmware running on pre-certified Silicon Labs modules combines these product development cycle stage optimizations to provide a streamlined embedded-to-phone and embedded-to-cloud connectivity.
Value of Gecko OS
Gecko OS is a highly-optimized loT operations system designed specifically to power hardware platforms with secure Wi-Fi networking capability and is the best choice for resource-constrained devices. Hardware running Gecko OS provides products with a powerful and secure wireless connection to a mobile device or the cloud. The Gecko OS API is a huge benefit to loT developers because it provides a common software foundation across multiple product lines.
Gecko OS products maintain much of the wireless interface without external MCU intervention, only exposing critical variables and commands for external MCU control.
To learn more about how Wireless Xpress can help IoT developers deliver ease-of-use to end customers, read the full whitepaper: