With the Internet of Things, it is no longer enough to consider the form when it comes to product design. This is because you are no longer dealing with physical products. Instead, you need to take into consideration the fact that these things now use data and are connected to people and other devices. It is no longer just an ordinary refrigerator, but one that informs the owners what they need to buy at the store. It is no longer just a car, but one that can drive itself or help you avoid collisions.
You are designing for both the physical and the data that are received and sent via these products. Form and function have never been so important in designing for the Internet of Things.
First off, you need to remember the traditional rules of product design. You should still design for simplicity, innovation, usability, manufacturability and quality. As we have mentioned before, you would still be designing for the tangible aspects of the product.
You would, however, need to do more for each element. For instance, usability now includes designing for upgradability. This means that you would need to think about how users would be able to upgrade their products when they upgrade the software that runs these products. Your design should make the product easier to learn and use as time goes by. For example, Tesla Model S has a dashboard that owners can upgrade like a smartphone.
Also, when you say simplicity, your design should also help users save time. Simple products are easier for users to use and understand, and with the Internet of Things, simple products also need to be easy to learn, saving the users hours of trying to learn how their devices work.
Then you would also need to design for communication when you design for quality. IoT devices need to be able to connect to the Internet securely and without fail. It would also need to generate consistent, accurate, and real time data. It would also need to be compatible with other devices created by other manufacturers. As such, when designing for quality, you would need to understand how the device could generate data and how that data would be used by other devices and platforms.
Innovative designs for the Internet of Things would include designing for discovery. When you design for the Internet of Things, you would need to make sure that you take advantage of opportunities that would help you get to know your users better. Ford Motor, for instance, gives its users access to OpenXC, which allows them to create experimental accessories and applications by themselves. This way, you would see what your users are interested in.
Lastly, you would need to consider how to create insights when you design for manufacturability. The beauty of the Internet of Things and the sensors and analytics that accompany it is that it allows you to get data, analyze it and turn it into something actionable. All of that data and insights can help designers come up with better products that can learn, measure and decide on its own.
The Internet of Things is forcing industrial design professionals to work harder to make sure that their designs remain relevant over time. If you are delving into the Internet of Things, be sure to contact Four Cornerstone and find out about the latest technologies that are available to you.