Before building anything, the first step is to determine what the product needs to do and how it needs to work. For some projects this is simple; for others it can be very complex. This step entails capturing requirements, high-level design, and communicating how the system will work.
product requirements document
First, if one does not yet exist we will work with you to create a product requirements document (PRD). The purpose of this document is to answer all the questions at the beginning, to reduce errors and make development faster. This includes:
What does the product need to do
Communication (BLE, Wi-Fi, Cellular, 900MHz, etc.)
What countries will it be sold in
How is it powered
Who is the typical user
Where will it be manufactured
Estimated sales volume
How will it be tested
“A picture says a thousand words.” We next create a simple block diagram showing the various subsystems and how they connect. These may be simple hand-drawn sketches on a whiteboard, or complex diagrams that span multiple pages. The goal is not to go into exorbitant detail, but mainly to communicate how the system works. This is especially important in systems that have multiple PCBAs. One system we designed had five different PCBAs and twenty-seven different cable assemblies. For this system the block diagram was large enough to fill a poster.
“Only test the features you want to work” - For any product that will be deployed to the field we need to determine how we will ensure the product is built correctly. At this phase we usually don’t delve into the details of how we’ll test (see Manufacturing Test Systems link) but we need to plan on how the device will be programmed, built, and tested.