Image illustration IOT

IOT product or smartphone app?

I have been developing project mostly in the embedded world for a few years now. I love electronics and micro-controllers, but I can see smartphones being able to do more and more while being the most available resources in our lives.

Smartphones everywhere!

Smartphones are quiet amazing with almost all the sensors you can hope for. Plus all the connectivity you wants, plus more computation than you need.

With such specs you could expect a lot of IOT devices to be obsolete. For example a portable gaming system like the sony PSP doesn’t make much sense when compared to a smartphone. Similarly an alarm clock doesn’t provide any value when your smartphone is always withing reach.

Also those examples are already seeing a decline in use, I see myself still being frustrated by remotes. Weather for TV, AC, lights I do not want to search for those things that always get lost. My smartphone will do a way better job of controlling them.

Are IOT products already dead?

Knowing that, are smartphone going to replace the entire hardware world? Well why not. But for now those devices still are not magical (yet). And I can see a few reasons why you would still want some IOT devices over a smartphone:

  • You want to develop some weird specific human interaction like: obital 2
  • You want to limit user freedom on purpose like: quizflip shielding you from notifications: Fl!p
  • You have a nice design like: the counter smiirl

I do not see any other cases where IOT hardware products have more sens than a smartphone app. Comment your ideas if you disagree.

Should I stop hardware and start react-native?

In the end it is all about providing a valuable experience to the user. A smartphone app will maximize ease of use. A hardware product will guide the user in a more controlled way of using the product.

Through the design of custom IOT product you have more variables at hands making your task harder as a designer but also giving more potential and more freedom in your creation.

In your next thinking session, wonder if an app could be enough. If not what feature will be lost in this process of “appifying” your product ? Is it a big loss ? If yes IOT if for you, if not you might want to look into react-native.