So how does simulation fit with IoT?
Well for starters it’s important to remember that IoT is simultaneously driven by software and hardware (but wait, how does an IoT system actually work?). Both are equally important and rely on each other to function — yet hardware usually takes substantially longer to develop and produce than software.
Because hardware takes longer to develop, companies are forced to wait until the hardware is completed to begin truly testing their entire IoT solution. As you can imagine, this leads to slower time to market, suboptimal user experience, and more costly endeavors. It’s no secret that changes to hardware take more time and money than changes to software, so the use of simulation in IoT provides a way for companies to save tons of time, money, and headache.
Imagine if we could simulate the hardware of an IoT solution while it’s still being developed (or even before development has started) to enable companies to test as if the hardware actually existed. Keep in mind, the hardware wouldn’t actually exist — nothing would be physically connected to the software — but the tasks that the hardware performs (i.e. measure, collect, and transfer data) would be simulated and the software wouldn’t know any different.
Why is this important?
Simulation/forecasting/etc already play major roles across a multitude of industries. Why do they do it?
- Financial experts run simulations to try and predict markets and see how certain conditions will affect their financial models. They stress different scenarios to see if their models and strategies will hold up, then make adjustments before they go live.
- Engineers use simulation to ensure structures are built safely and to optimize technologies for performance. Simulation helps them make critical changes with greater ease, faster, and at reduced cost — ultimately designing buildings/technologies/etc that are safer and have better performance.
- Military uses simulation for training purposes — this usually occurs when it is prohibitively expensive or simply too dangerous to allow trainees to use the actual equipment in the real world. For example, flight simulators enable trainees to get flight experience without risking lives or multi-million dollar jets. But the reason is the same — simulation saves resources.
- Finally, medical professionals simulate everything from routine procedures to medical anomalies to better understand and prepare themselves for real world situations.
The same goes for IoT, using simulation to:
- Test to make sure the software is working as expected under normal conditions.
- Stress test to see how the software behaves at scale or as key values exceed thresholds.
- Rapidly prototype and iterate before a product goes to market to ensure the highest quality solution and best user experience possible.
- Finally, simulation allows IoT companies to actually put something in the hands of stakeholders or potential customers before the hardware is finished, providing critical feedback early in the process.
The value of simulation has been proven time and again across numerous industries, but it’s only just being adopted in the relatively new space of IoT. As with most new concepts, the majority of people will need to see the value before they will adopt. But it may be those early adopters and innovators who end up getting the most benefit because the window for market share is closing quickly due to the rapid growth of the Internet of Things industry.
The benefits of simulation, summarized:
- Test more efficiently
- Rapidly prototype
- Reduce time to market
- Decrease deployment costs
- Remove friction & increase quality
- Make better (and informed) decisions