IoT Design and Size & Space Considerations

  • Post last modified:23 February 2023
  • Reading time:12 mins read
  • Post category:Technologies
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The IoT design considerations are unique. They are very different from the usual computing platforms. IoT designs are more focused on physical aspects like sensor and actuator interfaces which allow the IoT systems to sense and accordingly actuate our surrounding world.

The usual computing platforms are focused primarily on interfacing with humans. Examples of these systems include handheld devices and desktop machines. In these designs, the input and output devices are generally placed near each other and with the interfacing human being.

On the other hand, in IoT designs, the systems receive their input via sensors and that data is sent to the gateway/mobile/computers/cloud via the wired or wireless interfaces. Thus, the placement of devices in IoT systems may be at remote locations from each other. Further, the sensors/actuators may be highly miniaturized by using MEMS technology.

IoT Design Considerations

While designing an IoT system, there are various factors that need to be considered. Let’s now discuss these factors as follows:


Size matters a lot in IoT systems. The network will also have an impact on the device size. Some networks will require antennas and connectors. This requirement will also add to the size.


It is a very important factor and should be the first consideration. If batteries are used to power the device then preserving the power should be taken into consideration during the overall design. Battery power is not suitable for many networking technologies. The selection of a power source is also influenced by the frequency of communication.


IoT products, or smart products, help businesses as well as consumers equally. But the cost is the major determining factor. So, the design consideration should also include cost reduction.


It is now possible for companies to add new features to their existing products because of IoT. These features help you to get direct access to your valuable customers. You may use it for customer feedback, customer updates, in-time service and preventive maintenance, new revenue opportunities, etc.


The interface is an important aspect of the IoT product. It is very important how your customer interacts with the product. Will you use a display, LEDs, or buttons on the product? It will also matter what kind of app and Web interfaces you will be providing.


Network: There are certain issues with the network technology such as communication distance, interoperability, gateway issues, etc. If the Internet is needed, then you need to have Wi-Fi/Ethernet. If you are in a room/building then Z-Wave, ZigBee and Bluetooth can be used. It should be remembered that an FCC certification is needed for all wireless technologies.


The antenna is used by all wireless networks. It may be external or internal to the product. There is a trend to keep the antenna inside the plastic enclosure, whereas external antennas are preferred for metal enclosures.


If your product needs to communicate with the other products then you have to use a set of standard protocols to make your product interoperable.


Security is a major concern. You need to consider the implementation of security layers as and when possible. Password and SSL are considered to be the minimum security levels.


The cloud provides a kind of user interface between products and data. There are different cloud offerings such as public, private and hybrid. Most clouds provide a standard API for application development.

IoT poses several challenges. One of them is cross-platform design. When we talk about the various aspects and views of designing IoT services, a good IoT product would require us to think across the various design layers.

The layers, vary from the less visible layers like Platform Design, Service Design, Productisation, Conceptual Model, and Interusability to the more visible layers like Industrial Design, Interaction Design, and Visual Design. It is important and should be noted that to empower the higher visible layers, critical UX decisions should be taken in the early design stages.

It is required to have clarity in the data representation as well as its interpretations. It is a requirement of the Design of Cross Platform that there should be a combination of the dynamic and customizable interfaces. It should be able to manage the smooth flow of data along with the required security among sensors, applications, devices, and people.

Size and Space Considerations in IoT

Size and space matter a lot in IoT systems. Today’s consumers want everything to be as compact and small as possible. When we consider size and space, there arise two perspectives:

  • IoT device perspective
  • IoT data perspective

From the IoT device perspective, its size should be as small as possible so that it occupies less space. Further, an IoT device may not be always used as a standalone single device. In most cases, it may be used as a constituent of some other device/system. In such situations also, it is desired to have a small-sized IoT device.

From the IoT data perspective, the space for IoT data storage should be large enough to accommodate the constant streaming of data. The IoT data will be very large over time. So the space consideration for data storage should be given enough and equal priority in the overall IoT system. For example, IoT wearables are often small in size; however, they need to be equipped with high performance batteries to perform various types of tasks.

Rural or outdoor areas generally have a large range where the signals need to cover a longer distance to reach to the server or the wireless gateway. This kind of set up requires a GPS or a cellular interface. If the transmission distance is very large, it will require high frequencies as well as high power. If the location is a remote one, then the life of the battery becomes a very important factor.

The operational distance can also be affected by interference with some physical obstacles or with other RF devices. Manufacturers also have many options available in hardware and software relative to the network technology for IoT-based products.

Some IoT devices can be connected directly to the Internet. They may use Ethernet or Wi-Fi. There may be other products that use wireless technologies. But they all will be requiring a ‘gateway’ to convert their network technology to either Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

Some networks will require antennas and connectors. This requirement will also add to their size. It is a fact that our physical environment is very diverse. This diversity also leads to a similar diverse IoT-based application space, which includes tiny implantable heart rate monitors, oil reservoir diagnosis sensors, HVAC sensors that have an extremely long lifetime, etc.

Ontological Properties in IoT

Some ontological properties that are critical in determining the requirements of IoT devices, which help in categorizing the large and varied application space are as follows:

Sensing Modality

Pressure, temperature, strain, etc. come under sensing modality. The other examples of sensing modality include measurement frequency, timer triggers, abnormality identified in the value being monitored, and some external event, e.g. radio message.

Form Factor (Size)

It may range from millimeters to 10s of centimeters. For example, implantable sensors (small size), infrastructure monitoring sensors (large size.

Energy Source/sensor Lifetime

It is very desirable to have a long battery life for a sensor. Also, the lifetime of the sensor itself should be long enough so that there should not be a frequent need to change/replace the sensors. These are also largely dependent on the kind of application under consideration.


The connectivity is influenced by communication distance, interval, data rate/size, etc.

It is not an exhaustive list. The possible number of values for each property can be very large. It will result in a very wide application space.

Article Source
  • Russell, S. J., & Norvig, P. (2016). Artificial intelligence: a modern approach. Boston: Pearson.

  • Guinard, D. D., & Trifa, V. M. (2016). Building the web of things: with examples in Node.js and Raspberry Pi. Shelter Island, NY: Manning Publications.

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) Is a Key Enabling Technology for Digital Businesses. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2023, from

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