'Top Considerations Before Starting Your IoT Design Project' (Part 4 of 4) by Symmetry Application Engineers Anuja Upale & Nimit Pradhan
This is part 3 of 4 of an article that originally appeared on www.embedded.com. Click here to read the full article.
by Symmetry Application Engineers Anuja Upale & Nimit Pradhan
Understanding The Certification Process; Time Isn’t On Your Side
Time-to-market is a critical factor in the success or failure of many IoT products. Consumers want to see the latest technology as early as possible. In response, technologies are evolving at warp speed with extremely short design cycles, often less than one year for a laptop, phone, etc. The testing and certification process, however, can make or break time-to-market. If the original design is flawed and requires a second round of testing or certification, by the time any one product gets to market, the market may be flooded with similar competing products, or worse, the product may reach the end of its lifecycle and need to be redesigned before it even gets to market. It pays to educate yourself on the various compliance and certification standards that may be required before you can bring your product to market.
Wireless networks implemented in accordance with standards like IEEE 802.11 are subject to equipment certification and operation requirements established by regional and national regulatory administrations. The standard specification, such as IEEE 802.11 family establishes some minimum technical requirements for the wireless devices, based upon established regulations at the time the standard was issued. These regulations are subject to revision or may be superseded.
Some requirements are not specified by standards, and are only subject to compliance with local geographic regulations to ensure safety, security and reliability. In the US, all wireless technologies require Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certification (equivalent Approval Regulatory Standards include the Industry Canada (IC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)). The Commission promotes efficient and reliable access to the electromagnetic spectrum for a variety of innovative uses, from fixed microwave links to amateur radio to mobile broadband services, as well as promotes public safety and emergency responses. Manufacturers who certify their devices following FCC criteria and requirements are assured that their products will offer a high degree of performance, reliability and interoperability, which delivers extra confidence throughout the value chain. The scheme can reduce time-to-market for new products and help avoid expensive and time-consuming duplication of testing effort.
A key part of the interoperability assurance process is the interoperability certification. Simply stating a product “complies with the 802.11b standard,” for example, will not guarantee interoperability. Typically the organization responsible for the interoperability assurance will develop a certification program that will include a logo that ensures the product is interoperable. Manufacturers cannot apply this logo to their products unless they complied with an interoperability policy and passed the required interoperability tests. The existence of the logo will ensure that the product will interoperate with any other product carrying the same logo in a basic, standard operating mode.
CTIA-The Wireless Association is the administrator for the PTCRB certification process that oversees device certification for member carrier networks. They also perform testing to meet requirements enforced by certain carriers. As mentioned previously, carriers require a design be fully tested and certified before it can utilize a cellular network. Each carrier has its own unique requirements that change regularly, so it’s important to get the updated details before you start product development.
Test labs can handle most compliance testing and certifications for you, but unless you have someone familiar with the various standards there is no guarantee that you will successfully pass compliance testing. Distributors can be a great resource, as they are knowledgeable about existing design solutions that will facilitate shorter design cycles and first-pass testing success. Development kits, for example, are a great option to facilitate the design process. The proof-of-concept can also accelerate time-to-market. Integrated platforms are another great option, as they often incorporate certified modules that have had the vast majority of test cases completed when the module was certified. Distributors with engineers on staff can also provide best practice schematic reviews to help improve design and development so that it will pass testing and certification the first time.
Thoughtful planning and groundwork is essential to success in the IoT market. To make the right technology choices and get your product to market as quickly as possible, you need to:
- Evaluate your application goals, cost constraints, time-to-market and performance requirements before you begin design to ensure the end product will be valuable and affordable.
- There is no one ideal solution for every situation. Understand the size, range, environment, interoperability and security requirements of your specific application to determine the best technology for the job.
- Leverage pre-certified, off-the-shelf technologies and engineering best practices to facilitate shorter design cycles and first-pass testing success.
- Educate yourself on the various compliance and certification standards that may be required before you can bring your product to market.
The Internet is a wonderful tool offering multiple and disparate connectivity options, platforms and technologies to the savvy developer. While some components can be used in multiple scenarios, each application has specific requirements and constraints that must be taken into consideration. Given the potential extremes in these situations, failure can result in significant investment to repair or replace the system and even put human lives at risk. The key is to fully understand the goals and requirements of your specific application so you can bring all the various options into focus and select the correct technology for each unique circumstance.
For IoT product information or technical support, contact Symmetry Electronics, an authorized distributor of industry leading wireless, audio/video and embedded chips, modules and dev/eval tools. www.symmetryelectronics.com/contact-us or call (877) 466-9722.
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