March 22, 2018 - No Comments!

How the Iot Hardware Is Made

Have you ever thought of creating your own IoT product and bringing it to the market? If so, creating the electronic part of the project was surely one of the biggest issues. But did you find the solution to resolve it?

There are many firms on the market including startups, that don’t have the resources to work on the hardware area of their products. Many of them intent to create the whole project but they fastly realize that the process is much more complex and demanding that they thought before. What’s more, the feasibility stadium of ideas is often not appropriately analyzed, which provokes bigger delays and costs.

#1 Checking the feasibility of an idea

This is the first, extremely important phase when creating the IoT electronics. Without specifying whether given assumptions are technically feasible, you can’t begin designing the electronics. When you’re sure that the project is profitable and feasible to create, you may start working on the actual parts of the product, such as electronics. The first step is analyzing what are the requirements for certification. On this stage you have to find out what certificates your firm should acquire in order to legally distribute the product. Just remember, that depending on the usage and the destination of it, the requirements can be drastically different. The expectations are huge!
Remember, that all certification requirements should be included in the final project.

2# Working on the first iteration

Next, start with designing and producing your first prototype of the product. It’s worth to mention, that the preparation of electronics along with software may or even should happen simultaneously. Although it requires additional resources, it definitely lowers the time of producing the first prototype. Additionally, in case of any sudden issues to solve, there’s smaller probability that the project will be delayed or will get stuck. What’s more, all difficulties, that require dynamic introduction of changes can be resolved much faster and in a more efficient way.

3# Preparing prototypes

Preparing prototypes is the next stage when creating an iteration. The process begins with acquiring imprescindible components and establishing the pricing of elements. The list of all parts used during the process is called the Bill of Materials. On its’ basis we may create the first prototype that should be accepted by our client. After the first approval, the next stage should be preparing the PCB design project along with the product documentation, that must be also revised by a client. Moreover, at the same time the process of building the first archetype should start. It consists of smaller tasks such as: the revisal of the material list, ordering components and the PCB, gathering all required elements and at the end - building a prototype by combining all these parts together. The final work of this stage should result in a ready hardware prototype part, though without the embedded software.
As mentioned before, you may continue working on the required software which consists of several, smaller subsequents:

  • launching the programme environment
  • preparing the main algorithms
  • launching the necessary libraries
  • configuring peripherals
  • writing the program code

The last element should be debugging the code, which should start at the same time as launching the first, ready-made hardware prototype. As a result, the software development process should end successfully, through implementing the software on the hardware part of the prototype.

4# Launching the first prototype

When it comes to the stage of launching the first prototype of the product - it should end
with transferring the device to the customer for evaluation and acceptance. The client will be able to see how the finished device will work. It’s the most important stage of a client’s verification, because at this stage most comments occur. In the next step, after the evaluation of a potential solution, the prototype should be tested in accordance with the required certification process, analyzed at the very beginning of the project. This step completes the process of the first iteration. When the first prototype of the product is ready, it’s time to implement changes. Then the second iteration of the prototype begins.

5# Documenting and modifying

Next stage is the PCB modification and gathering the product documentation. Now you can begin working on the second prototype and you should pay attention to:

  • revising the components’ list
  • ordering all required parts
  • creating PCB
  • completing the components

During the second iteration, implementing changes in the software area can happen simultaneously with working on schemes’ modification. All corrections in software should be introduced before launching the second prototype, so after finishing the update of both software and hardware part, the device should be revised once again by a client. The final stage of the second iteration should rely on conducting tests, according to the plan. Usually, it’s the last step in the process of creating the IoT electronics.

It’s worth to mention, that in some cases, the project should be subjected to another iteration. The decision about introducing other modifications, should be made on the basis of a client’s judgement along with tests’ results. You should be aware that additional changes require time along with human and financial resources.

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March 7, 2018 - No Comments!

Women in Engineering: Why There Should Be More of Us

I was always encouraged to discover my abilities in fields I found interesting, and the truth is -
I have always been interested in how things work. My passion for technology started in school from a very prosaic reason - a broken computer. It was one of the triggers that simply made me curious about building and repairing devices. I followed the idea later on and began my studies at the University of Science and Technology. During the studies, everyone tried to inspire and motivate us - 17 girls out of almost 300 Electrical Engineering students. Many of us after graduating, chose the path of being a developer. I started to plan my career and look for opportunities. The more I’ve read, the more stereotypes I’ve found.

The changing perception of a female engineer

One of them was a conviction that it’s really hard to preserve that feminine aspect while being a female engineer. I’m a woman who likes soldering in high heels, so I believe there’s no such thing I can’t do while wearing a skirt.  
Many times I heard opinions of my female colleagues that were insecure of the other team members’ reaction. When I started my career, I came across nothing but admiration of my courage, my technical skills and ideas. Everyone was always open and glad to help, so we quickly developed an effective communication and a great relationship that lasts till today (sending love to our software embedded team!)
Another common issue is a matter of passion. Everyday I come across opinions that engineering is probably the biggest passion of mine. I’m a hardware engineer, but except diving into technical news and projects’ insights, I’m also crazy about cooking and dancing. So when I’m not at my desk right now developing products, search for me at dancing or cooking classes!

Unbelievable facts and statistics

Did you know, that only 9% of the engineering workforce is female? What’s more, the proportion of women studying engineering did not change since 2012! With the engineering industry facing a problem of finding qualified professionals, it is crucial to encourage future engineers to work in this industry.
As for outstanding skills presented by female engineers, the ability of quick learning and multi-tasking was mentioned many times by employers. They also consider diversity in their teams as a strong positive factor, that has an enormous impact on their employees’ productivity. And they’re right!

In our team, we exchange ideas on a daily basis, and the important thing is - we have different points of view. Such various opinions enrich the communication and are the key to resolve complicated issues. We perceive solutions in a different way, and at the end, we choose the perfect, most advisable one.

My advice to every woman interested in engineering?

The world is more and more open, people are always positively surprised and the possibilities are endless. Enabling women to meet their full potential in work could add as much as $28 trillion to annual GDP in 2025. Diversity is crucial for innovation: in a global survey, 85% corporate diversity and talent leaders agreed that a diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation.
Working in a tech environment gives you plenty of opportunities and makes you more creative every single day.
If engineering is your passion, go for it!


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February 15, 2018 - No Comments!

5 Golden Rules for Product Development

As you probably know, bringing innovative products to life and creating hardware devices is a complex task. It takes few months to make a perfect market research and analyze a demand for that product. Then it’s time to think how to generate a perfect solution and verify correct operation at the prototyping stage. And of course, it doesn’t happen in a blink of an eye.

A methodology of creating innovative products and services based on deep understanding of the problems and needs of the users is not a short-term process, and it needs a decent construction. Structuring to the process of design thinking let us solve complex problems by understanding users’ needs. What’s more, it allows re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, creating ideas in brainstorming sessions and adopting a hands-on approach to prototyping and testing. In other words, this structure lets us define our 5 golden rules of creating products desired by users, technologically feasible and economically justified. So how to design a great hardware for a product?

Creating a product -  step by step

  • Empathize. Innovation starts with empathy

New solutions are created mainly for people. That’s why the first point is to gain an empathic realization of the problem you are trying to solve. You have to conduct research to develop an understanding of your users. It is crucial to recognize the hidden and intuitive motivations that affect human choices and behavior. You have to know what your future consumers need and gain perfect knowledge about similar products. Which of them have not succeed? Why? What made the others succeed? Follow the “must-do” actions and avoid competitors’ mistakes.

  • Define the problem and get to know your customers

During the defining stage, together with your team you combine all your research and observe whether a problem exists. You need to check if your future client needs your solution. What’s the main value of it? Is the price affordable? Or will your customer use a cheaper product from your competitors? Try to frame the problem correctly so that you will gather more certain data and good solutions.

  • Generate the ideas and brainstorm with your team

This stage involves generating as many crazy and creative ideas as possible. Your team members have to ‘think outside the box’ to identify new solutions to the problem statement you’ve created. Remember not to ignore ideas that seem obvious or easy — they can turn out to be the brilliant ones, if only you focus on them. To finalize this stage, write down the best ideas and try to test them to find the correct answer.

  • Build a prototype which will meet the expectations of customers

At this stage you have to build real, tactile representations for your product. For now, don’t make things more complicated than necessary. Your top goal is to make a prototype that is visually ready to present the idea to users and quickly gather feedback on the solution. The final shape of your product needs to be designed and built according to the user feedback and with a particular focus on their tips or needs they’ve described. This brings us to another point…

  • Test the product and eliminate all the inconveniences

The stage of testing is extremely important and should not be overlooked in the course of the project. This is the moment of confronting the idea of a product design with its users. You have to prepare a well-working device. Feedback has the greatest importance at this stage because it enhances your involvement in the product growth. If the users love the product it means that it's ready to entry the market. But if they flag some inconveniences, it’s up to your team to get back to the third point and figure out new ideas for your users' satisfaction.

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February 12, 2018 - No Comments!

Our Year in Review

May 12, 2017 - No Comments!

Monetizing your free app

Text by our friends from Gummicube – leader in providing App Store Optimization and App Store Intelligence

While every app developer wants to say they made a successful app, the fact remains that they still need to turn a profit. There are many ways developers can go about monetizing apps, and each strategy comes with their own form of success depending on the type of app. But how does a free app make money?

Apps can use a variety of options to improve their revenue stream, and the three most common forms of monetization are:

  • Advertisements
  • Upgrading to premium
  • Microtransactions

While these forms of monetization are the key to increasing any app developer’s bottom line, they still beg the question of how much money can be earned?

Monetization Broken Down
Even though the above methods of earning money apply to any form of “free app,” let’s look at one type of app fares. Mobile games, which are often offered for free, tend to make millions and even billions of dollars each year; while the games industry generated a little over $108 billion in revenue, mobile games accounts for over 54% and generated $59.2 billion.

While the exact numbers will vary from person to person, the average user spent around $35 on “freemium” games and apps in 2016, and that number is only expected to rise. Around 47% of the in-app purchases or premium upgrades people bought cost between $9.99 and $19.99, and around 6% cost between $0.99 and $1.99. For mobile games, however, around half their profits came from the dedicated players, around .15% of their users, who were willing to constantly spend to get ahead.

So how can other apps besides games put these monetization efforts into practice? Let’s break down each type of effort and how it can help app developers.

Monetizing with Advertisements
Advertisements are exactly what you would expect: banners ads or commercials that show up in the app. Ads can be:

  • Small, unobtrusive banners at the bottom of the screen
  • Pop-ups that show up every couple of minutes
  • Large videos that show gameplay or UI and more

The more clicks they get, the more developers earn, but too many ads will drive users away.

One way apps try to entice their users to stay is by including in-game currencies that often make viewing advertisements optional. In return for watching a 30-second video ad, the players will receive a small amount of the game’s currency, encouraging them to view the ads regularly. This in turn brings profit to the developer, advertisers and the users.

Upgrading to Premium
For many apps, free versions provide just a small sampling of all the features the app can offer. All other features are locked behind a “premium” paywall. So while a user could very well enjoy the app for free, the temptation to upgrade to premium grows more appealing the more they use it.

Often times, apps will offer free versions with advertisements, or premium versions without any. That may be the only difference, or one of several, but some customers will be willing to spend a dollar or two just to make the advertisements stop. The goal is to encourage users to upgrade to premium, not to pester them in to it.

Take, for example, Spotify – the app is available for free, and the unpaid version offers optimized playlists, recommendations, and full-length songs to anyone. However, there are some caveats: free users can only skip songs so many times per day, and short advertisements will play between songs.

As a result, Spotify sees a stunning 27% conversion rate, turning over a quarter of all free users into paying customers. Given that the industry average is closer to 4% conversions, Spotify’s success is nothing short of impressive.

Microtransaction and How They Work
Microtransactions are purchases made available within the app to provide certain enhancements or in-game currency at the cost of real money. The prices can start off small to nearly a hundred dollars for a far more significant amount.

Microtransactions are everywhere within mobile games, from casual phone tappers to the most intense of action games. “Candy Crush,” one of the most popular mobile games, earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually through microtransactions. They can also be seen frequently in mobile apps referred to as “gacha games,” short for “gachapon,” the Japanese term for vending machines that offer little toys in capsules. Players can slowly earn currency by logging in and completing events
over time, or they can spend actual money for a larger quantity at once.

Developers need to be careful as some apps that offer microtransactions have recently come under heavy criticism due to users spending large sums of money without the guarantee of succeeding, if your app is a game offering any sort of “loot box,” be prepared for the controversy.

Key Takeaways
Now that developers know the different forms of monetization, they simply must ask:

  • What kind of app are you providing?
  •  Is it one where a few ads on the side won’t interfere with the user experience?
  • Can you offer premium services without crippling the free version?
  • Would users be willing to spend repeatedly to gain new features?

Consider what services the app offers, and what it’s worth to the users. From there, developers will be able to figure out what monetization option is right for them.

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