How Not to Build a Smart Device If You Want To Meet Your Deadline and Budget

Some of our clients turn to us when it’s almost too late: they’re low on budget and investors push them to hit the market when the device is far from ready. Why does it happen? We made a research and found 5 most common reasons of their misfortunes.

1. Hiring a design engineer working on an hourly basis

Hiring a professional working on an hourly basis may seem to be an adequate approach to the budget economy: you’re sure you’re paying money for the actual job done.

While device design may not be the most expensive part of your budget (the average hourly rate of a US design engineer varies from $16 to $40), you may end up paying them up to $10,000 for continuous improvements and iterations caused by new board decisions, unexpected hardware limitations etc.

When you hire someone on an hourly basis, it is hard to forecast the expenses, especially when it is essential to fix something. To avoid the danger, we recommend hiring a specialist (or an entire team) who has a fixed price for electronics design. In this way, you will keep this item of expenditure under control.

2. Hiring an industrial designer to create a simple plastic enclosure

If you plan to have a simple enclosure for your smart device, hiring an industrial designer may be a financial overkill. Consider working with a 3D modeler.

In the United States, the hourly rate of an industrial designer varies between $15 and $49, and the average rate is around $24. In turn, hiring a 3D modeler can cost you from around $7 to $55 per hour, with the average rate of approximately $22.

3. Entrusting a Chinese factory with your product design

Production in China is known for its speed and low cost. But not device design.

Yes, you can save on the design by turning to Chinese professionals or even hiring an expert within the Chinese factory you’re working with. Yet it rarely works out the way you might expect.

Chinese factories are focused on manufacturing, so some say they may skip design deadlines, break requirements, make mistakes, not mentioning usually poor communication leading to misunderstandings.

So consider hiring a professional 3D modeler or designer you’ll easily find common ground with.

4. Sending your design to every single manufacturer in China

Finding a manufacturer in China can be challenging, so you may think that it is better to send the design of your gadget to every single factory, and in the end, at least one of them will start cooperating with you. This trick can work, but not exactly in the expected way.

Let’s imagine that you send your design to a hundred factories. It takes all of them several weeks to discuss the details with you and figure out if they want to start working on your project. But, obviously, even if all these factories meet your requirements and agree to start manufacturing, you will choose only one of them.

This means, that 99 other factories will still have the design of your product after several weeks of dealing with it. They may use it in any case, so the market may get overloaded with cheap copies of your gadget.

In case this happens, you may want to redesign your device and send the design only to one manufacturer, but this will cost a lot and take some time. To avoid the trap, we recommend you to choose a Chinese manufacturer very carefully — here we have a detailed guide on this to help you.

5. Designing an app before designing a device

In most cases, building a smart device implies developing a related app. Sure, there are some apps which control numerous gadgets at the same time, but let’s imagine that you are working on a single gadget and one app. What to start with? A gadget or an app?

Designing an app before designing a device may seem to be a good idea, but, actually, it is not.

If you create an app first, you will have to build a gadget exactly according to its features. As a result, something can go wrong — some functions of the gadget can be missed, so you will have to create a new app or fix the existing one. This means extra expenses and working hours.

We recommend focusing on the smart device first. Define its functions, develop the design, and decide on how its sensors will be embedded. Only after you are done with these things, move to designing the related app. As a result, you will have two components of the project (a device and an app) perfectly complementing each other.

Finishing your smart gadget on time and within the budget requires you to be extremely careful and cautious. Our guide will help you to meet the deadlines and avoid extra expenses, but if you have any other questions related to smart devices and smart home apps, feel free to get in touch with us — we would be glad to look into your issue and help you out.

12 Mar 2019
Anastasia Lushyna / Business Development Expert
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