Accelerating connected device development

How to get prototypes into the hands of users early, and reduce time to market.

With the installed base of connected devices set to rise to 35 billion by 2025, ‘smart’ devices are impacting almost every industry, from manufacturing, to healthcare to consumer goods. In an increasingly competitive market the ability to prototype, test and refine new connected product concepts quickly has never been more important.

The research, strategy and design activity necessary to build connected devices is no small task, and the delivery processes that surround multi-channel programmes are often complex and challenging when there is a need to align product experience across teams within large organisations. At KD, we very much subscribe to the idea that ‘a prototype saves a thousand meetings’, and we have seen the expectation and demand for delivering tangible demonstrators increase significantly, as more devices start to rely on connectivity, and digital transformation initiatives start to mature.

KD digital framework illustrating how we can connect devices to the cloud, analytics and native apps.

With this in mind we sought to find a way to accelerate connected demonstrator prototypes, so that the ideas and product features that are agreed in early ideation stages of a product, get to real users as fast as possible.

Our team have built a flexible development and prototyping framework covering the four elements present in many connected systems: sensors, user interaction apps, web dashboards and cloud data. This enables a core “vanilla” technology platform to be rapidly and cost-effectively assembled, then “flavoured” and customised to address the exact needs of a proposed product or system and delivered as a working prototype system for demonstration and user testing.

Person holding KD 1UpCup and smart phone.


To demonstrate the application of this flexible development and prototyping framework, KD used it to develop the 1UpCup, a smart approach to reducing single-use cups. The cup uses heat and location sensors to track when and where it’s topped up with coffee and the data is sent to the user’s smartphone which displays information about cups saved as well as loyalty points earned. Retailers are able to combine multiple cup data to gain knowledge of their customer base and highlight trends they can use to improve their service.

Machine Max montage with smartphone and heavy machinery

Managing machinery

In an industrial setting, smart sensors are helping to reduce the environmental impact of heavy machinery by detecting machine activity and delivering an all-in-one data collection and analysis solutions. By better understanding fleet activity, equipment can be better managed to cut fuel and rental costs and minimise their environmental impact.

Better clinical trials

In the medical space, connected technology has the capability to improve clinical trials by monitoring both when and how patients are using devices. Embedded sensors in devices such as inhalers can give deep insights into patient technique and adherence and this information can be fed back into the development process to help shape better products, which ultimately deliver better patient outcomes.

This article is based on a longer article which explored these issues in more detail, first published in FOCUS – Navigating Early-Stage New Product Development.

Learn more about our connected demonstrator technology, watch the 1UpCup video below.

Find out more?

Contact our Head of Digital, Paul Richardson.