IoT Hardware Development Kits—Are They Becoming Redundant for Business Use?

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1Q 2023 | IN-6859

Internet of Things (IoT) hardware development kits have historically been a critical part to the development process for new IoT solutions.

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The Role of Hardware Development Kits Is Shifting


Internet of Things (IoT) hardware development kits enabled developers to make a proof of concept and develop the hardware elements of applications for the IoT. Previously, these were considered a significant part of the process, and a lengthy one, too. The development kits are not completely redundant in the development market overall, but there could be less use for them for those creating a product they wish to get to market. There are multiple types of users for development kits; currently, solution provider businesses make up a large part of the addressable market, while developers and hobbyists make up the remainder.

Hardware Development for the IoT—What Options Are Available?


Hardware development kits have great advantages for those who use them, but not in all instances. For some solution providers, specifically those that are starting up and have the available capital to get to market faster, which can be beneficial, there are alternative methods that can help speed up the process. Outsourcing the development process prevents in-house developers from having to make prototype after prototype to create the best piece of hardware for their solution. There are hardware manufacturers that offer the development service to their customers—the solution providers—so that they do not have to go through the process of developing hardware themselves.

Telit, for example, while not necessarily only using its own hardware, has a wide range of partners that enable Telit to offer solution providers a “one-stop shop” experience when developing their products. This allows solution providers to enter their specific market quicker, which means they are able to receive real-time feedback in regard to how their solution is working. Solution providers can gain insight from market trends, the user experience, and feedback, which can help the development process. Insights gained by this method enable solution providers to understand what exactly is working with their product, but also where there is room for improvement, with missing capabilities and poor battery life being two examples.

Are All Development Kits Becoming Redundant?


The solution development process is a critical part for businesses, specifically because creating a solution that meets all market needs enables a more successful product and business plan for solution providers. Therefore, it is crucial that businesses opt for the relevant process of building their own hardware or buying an off-the-shelf piece of hardware. There are advantages and disadvantages to both building and buying. Advantages of buying include the speed element—buying off-the-shelf hardware for applications makes the hardware development kit a redundant piece of the development solution, similar to an alternative buying method, whereby a one stop company develops the product for the buying company. However, it may not always be possible to opt to buy hardware if there are no off-the-shelf alternatives available that meet the requirements desired by solution providers, such as battery life, power, and sensor capabilities considerations.

Within the development process for IoT solutions, a number of different boards and kits are available, including hardware development kits, software development kits, and evaluation kits. Evaluation kits are used to determine if a semiconductor component is the best fit for a specific application and these kits are becoming more popular. They are found in smaller form factors and they enable developers to evaluate the capabilities of a new product before adding it to a new design for the product. While many developers are pushing hardware development kits to the back burner, software development kits remain front and center, and one of the challenges for new solution development is the software element of the application. Software used for these devices is becoming more complex due to the nature of the standards, as well as security.