Manufacturers of products across the consumer spectrum have by and large read the writing on the wall by now: go IoT, or go home.

In the near future, pretty much everything more complicated than a paper clip will assume the prefix of ‘smart’, and join the ranks of connected, communicative, hitherto inanimate objects.

As this process continues to unfold and products are overhauled to stay relevant in an IoT world, it will behoove companies to remember that a product ceases to be smart if manufacturers don’t plan, or ideate, with certain elements of usability in mind. Sure, you can call anything “smart” by slapping it with sensors and a Bluetooth module. But is it actually smart for your company and your consumers?

There is a difference between being connected – and being smart. Smart product design and development involve several key factors on the user-facing side of things which must be taken into consideration.

 The overarching principle when considering usability of your smartened product is not maximizing the amount of platforms to which it is compatible, or even how seamlessly it syncs with the internet in general. Chief on your list of concerns should be how operational aspects will affect and engage the end user. Unintuitive? Perhaps, but to prove this we can look to any tech gadget of the last 20 years, well before IoT took over. Products that succeeded – and of course I’m looking mostly at Apple here – were those whose tech advances were surpassed only by their intuitive and easy usability.  

Usability features are critical

Great care should then be taken when considering these usability features. The location, shape, material, and placement of electrical components can greatly affect overall design, and subsequent consumer reception. Similarly, manufacturers must have a deep understanding of smart component pricing so as to build a cost-effective IoT product and keep prices reasonable for customers. Integrating the world’s most premium electrical components can add a competitive edge to your brand, but an unaffordable final product will defeat the entire purpose.  

Finally, before moving on to production, you must experience the smart capabilities of your new product and iteratively operate, test, re-evaluate, and optimize all components – placement, electronics, behaviors, and performance – until you are positive that your dream product is coming to life as expected. Naturally, this step entails a working prototype of your smart product.

IoT-adaptation is a fascinating science of equipping the tools of yesterday with the intelligence of tomorrow, and this leaves plenty of opportunity for creative functionality overhaul. By making the right decisions in usability, components, and design, manufacturers can steer their products into the coveted zone of global consumer ubiquity.

The author co-founded Seebo in 2012 and serves as the CEO. Previously he successfully launched and managed Playfect with his brother Liran, delivering value to investors, employees and the market. His innate understanding of complex technical issues combined with an ability to analyze markets has allowed him to intuit “where the ball is going” – especially in the rapidly changing field of IoT.