Meeting the PCB design challenge
Although the IOT is still in its early days, applications developers are already looking to put more electronics into smaller packages. Not only that, many products are being designed to fit into odd shapes or to fit into whatever space may be available in existing devices.
That’s one challenge; designers are also trying to forecast the development of features within existing hardware, as well as making their products capable of being upgraded when new technology becomes available.
Given that costs must be kept low in most instances, expensive connectors and complete board swaps are not the way forward, so what should designers be thinking about when it comes to designing PCBs for IOT applications?
Expansion is twice: expanded features and functions, and expanded technology.
Full motion 3D visualization allows designers to better communicate to manufacturing how products are assembled
Features and functions: Features and functions are often updated on products as new uses, apps and requirements appear. Increasingly, features and functions are added via software updates – and this is important for IOT devices, since many will be difficult to access.
Technology Updates: In the future, we are probably to become reliant upon many IOT devices and will expect them to evolve with technology and to be capable of being updated in a relatively convenient and inexpensive way.
Many boards, little space
The near future for IOT devices with respect to PCB design is clear: circuit complexity and speed will continue to increase, while the space available for the electronics lessens. For most IOT devices, the solution is likely to include electronics distributed across multiple boards, often applying flex circuitry to make it all fit. Meanwhile, designer will need to take advantage of 3D image tools in order to create imaginative solutions.
Fortunately, these tools and design methodologies are fast becoming part of the mainstream because, without them. IOT designs are likely to present impassable challenges.