User experience and design in IoT products with Hardware Pioneers

eeDesignIt attended one of Hardware Pioneers’ events to learn about user experience and design in IoT products.

Hardware Pioneers is a group of professional building products and companies within connected technology that comes together to create a community for support, with more than 6,000 members. With guest speakers, Q&As, demos and community announcements, Hardware Pioneers events are worthwhile for any software engineer who wants to learn more about the industry, make contacts or even progress their own product.

 SOLIDWORKS for entrepreneurs

Speaker: Greg Smith, Director of Startup Advocacy and Community Applications 

SOLIDWORKS want to help startups to go from idea to product to business in mechanical design software. They offer an Entrepreneurship Program which offers the following resources:

  • SOLIDWORKS design tools such as SOLIDWORKS Premium, SOLIDWORKS Electrical Professional and SOLIDWORKS Composer
  • 10+ hours of free online learning with
  • A kick-off call with the SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs team and Customer Marketing Program Manager
  • Co-marketing opportunities such as speaking opportunities at SOLIDWORKS events, and promotion in SOLIDWORKS campaigns and social communities
  • Design guidance from SOLIDWORKS engineers and technical managers
  • Hundreds of white papers, videos, and feature articles with tips and tricks on taking your product to the next level

Kickstarter: Why product design matters

Speaker: Heather Corcoran, European Design and Technology Outreach


Heather Corcoran who leads outreach for Kickstarter in Europe gave an informative talk on the importance of product design:

5 tips for product design
  • Design for a specific problem
  • Design for the whole product experience
  • Design with a community
  • Iterate your product design
  • Know how to tell your product story
Tips for pitching your product on Kickstarter
  • Consider scenarios that communication the core features of your product
  • Communicate those features with user experience images; simple and clear
  • Have images in a thumbnail format
  • Avoid text overlay
  • Use clear and descriptive language
  • Leave out the hype
  • Use lifestyle images; adds a sense of authenticity and user experience
  • Include baseline functionality demos
  • Get creative with your communication
  • Behind scenes for backers adds a ‘collaborator’ feel

You can find more helpful information in the Creator Handbook from Kickstarter.

Corcoran then answered questions from the audience which included:

“How do you figure out how much funding you need?”
Don’t put yourself in hot water, find out your minimum order quantity.

Is it ever too early to crowdfund?
You need a working protoype as a hardline.

Seymourpowell: Making Things Better

Speaker: Matthew Cockerell, Creative and Board Director



Matthew Cockerell, Creative and Board Director at Seymourpowell gave an inspiring talk about not only the importance of user experience within the design process of IoT products, but also the ethical responsibilities of designers to change the way products are made.


4 tips to make things better in IoT product design

  1. Feed your head
    • Think about the user and identify the problems.
    • Understand other transferable research.
    • Design for the process.
    • Know your maker to understand constraints and opportunities, and to ensure build quality
  2. Designing the experience
    • Story-telling is valuable to the user experience.
  3. Fast reality
    • Work backwards and prototype the feeling that your product will create for the user.
  4. Changing way products are made
    • Understand where the materials you need come from and whether they are sourced from conflict zones.

Special Projects

Speaker: Adrian Westway, Co-Founder and Director of Technologies

Adrian Westway, Co-Founder and Director of Technologies of Special Projects, a design and invention studio shared his insights in product design. Special Projects’ inspiring mission statement is:

To enhance the unquantifiable aspects of life: empathy, wellbeing, delight, with meaningful design and invention.

These driving factors were clear in Westway’s talk as he described a project they had undertaken to design a consumer-friendly phone for the elderly. Unsurprisingly, as the event’s theme became ever more cemented, he placed the importance of product design in the research, particularly in consumer research. The proof of the this approach was in the product pudding, in the solution Special Projects presented to their client, Samsung as shown in the video below.

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