How many of us use smartphones and smartwatches, shop online, live in smart houses and drive cars equipped with computers and electronic driver assistance systems? Unnoticeably we find out all spheres of our lives entangled with technologies, which also include well-being, wellness and health. In 2020 startups dedicated to digital health raised $14.2 billion of investment globally, according to Crunchbase.
Deloitte analysts found tha digital transformation in healthcare is beneficial in saving time and resources for 73% of responders, 33% of users get better experience and 25% of patients received personalized care.
Smart wellness, well-being and health
The tendency to apply digital transformation to as many aspects of physical and mental health, wellness and well-being is still steadily growing. We want to know we are not ill and our environment is healthy. The need to live healthily and in harmony with ourselves and others evoke market demands and new means appear to address the need.
Some technologies and devices gather, monitor and analyze physical and mental health parameters. We may keep track of pulse, body temperature, blood tension, blood sugar level, sleep and workout data. Moreover, with the help of devices, we may share the aggregated information about our health with relatives, doctors or even emergency services. Other gadgets help create conditions essential for a healthy life. Smart home appliances may control air temperature and humidity, illumination level and do housework for you to free valuable time for personal needs and growth. Wellness technologies may also help us change our behavior and habits to healthy ones and reduce stress factors. We may get notifications to drink some water, to workout or to breathe and calm down.
And what makes well-being devices even more appealing, technologies offer a personalized and customizable experience behind things. We may choose a device’s appearance and its application. We may configure gadgets to function the way we exactly need. To think businesslike, leveraging specific use cases with technologies adds business opportunities and helps companies make more viable offers.
Efficiency is expected to be №1 benefit of AI
Survey Question: Please assume solutions have achieved maturity and produce reliable results. In what areas of health care could they have the biggest positive impact?
Embedded systems as a business idea
The creation of a wellness, well-being or healthcare device often requires connecting hardware such as sensors, microcontrollers with the integrated software systems capable of performing computing and, at the next layer, transforming the data into comprehensive diagrams in end-user applications with intuitive interfaces.
A wellness startup we have partnered with sees its mission in promoting a healthy lifestyle via a device that encourages users to workout. The main idea is quite simple: to integrate training equipment with a Wi-Fi limiter. Users that do exercises and are physically active get a reward — access to the Internet. The embedded system is intended for home and office use. The implemented functionality includes analysis and statistics of users’ activity. The possibility to organize competitions between groups of users helps to trigger changes in behavior and habits.
The development of a pilot product for a wellness startup is a process comprising several stages, starting from research and development and investigation of the available hardware to find the equipment matching the expectations and budgets. Then we followed with the firmware, backend software and user interface development. Embedded development for a wellness startup was a challenging task and required the implementation of our best practices. However, it was an expertise-growing experience. And we would like to share our tips and findings on working with startups.
Tips on developing embedded systems for startups
In a term of 5 years, 60% of startups fail. And almost 90% of those that fail don't survive the first year. Amongst the failure reasons, the top one is not the lack of budget, as one may suppose. Analysts and experts insist that the following traits are vital for new businesses.
Characteristics to define successful startups:
- the ability to grow fast,
- flexibility to change quickly to meet market and customer demands and
- power to recover, not give up and look up for solutions when things go wrong.
So, an embedded development service provider should consider that being a partner for a startup requires different approaches compared to established market players.
1. Developers build the embedded solution under the pressure of continuous changes
Working with startups does not expect thoroughly negotiated requirements. It is supposed that a software development partner supports a startup owner’s ideas and decisions on-the-go. An IT service provider may rely on its experience, best practices in the field, quick technology research and market investigation to offer a flexible solution.
2. Developing for startups is as flexible and agile-compatible as possible
A software development company would not spend time studying and digging into use cases and flows. Software engineers should be mature enough to share responsibility with a startup owner in regards to task assignment, task prioritization, backlogging and other development management processes.
3. Document the development of an embedded solution for third-party partners
Despite the fact that software engineers will not receive initial documentation, they should document the development process (requirements, specifications, test reports). Startups exist in turbulent market environments and grow fast. Sometimes different stages of the startup evolution are developed by different IT partners. It occurs even more often in cases of implementing integrations with other software systems. So, working with a startup, a software development company should be ready for both: dealing with legacy code and handing code over to another company.
4. Double efforts and resources for embedded systems testing
As soon as embedded software development for startups is not documented, extra-agile and flexible, every new release should be covered with as many tests as possible. And QA engineers should keep track of records of all the testing activity, including test cases, code reviews and test reports.
5. Do not overblow the budget and time for a pilot of an embedded system for a startup
A startup needs to grow fast to succeed. Scaling up, entering new markets or introducing new features requires resources and efforts from a startup owner. A software development partner should focus on the core functionality and product benefits to shorten time-to-market. After a release of a pilot, a startup owner will verify the initial idea in real market conditions. And will proceed with an IT company to develop backlogged product improvements.
6. Foresee feedback and be ready to apply changes to embedded systems quickly
Launching a pilot product will bring a pile of user comments. Some of them may be somewhat unexpected, but the larger number of proposals, suggestions and claims are apparent. In case an embedded developer provider pays much attention to software testing, it would involve focus group studies, alpha and beta testing. All those efforts help research user experience and predict some feedback. An IT partner should list the possible weak points, functionality enhancements or technical debts.
Findings on the embedded development for a wellness startup
To enable real-time computing, embedded systems should feature high reliability, accuracy and performance and run on small-sized and low-power hardware. During the development of an embedded system for a wellness startup, we’ve addressed the mentioned in the previous sentence critical constraints. And we share the findings that helped us to build a solution.
1. Research and prototyping phase matters
Selecting hardware is hard. Besides performance or size restrictions, equipment should meet budget requirements. Moreover, in the case of future mass production, it should be easy to buy, and its price should fit the final product price policy. An embedded development service provider should investigate for affordable and replaceable hardware.
The next step is to build a prototype and validate the embedded system's design and architecture in real-life conditions. With the delivered embedded solution for a well-being startup, we have created several prototypes to find out the best combination in regards to compatibility and performance. Some microcontrollers models didn't fit the productivity requirements. Others didn't match the protocols to connect with a Wi-Fi router. The famous model of a single-board computer didn't meet the cost demands, as an end product will be too expensive for the end-users.
Research and prototyping have helped us to create the embedded system according to the well-being startup needs.
2. Design and interface are vital for success
Engaging UI and UX are essential, especially for a startup dedicated to the promotion of physical activity. Gamification of the flow, animated and comprehensive statistics, notifications or funny reminders — all those are worth experts’ attention, not less than the code.
3. Meeting high-performance demands and memory (RAM) requirements
An embedded solution should be launchable on hardware. It means engineers should build a web app that can be run on low-power hardware. Usage of the existing third-party software, applying best practices, leveraging modern technologies and approaches may help to cope with the performance, accuracy and stability demands.
4. Consultations with experts in the fields may help
As far as startups run their business under time pressure, an embedded development service provider simply can’t afford any delays. Asking for help from industry leaders, experts in the field is a good option to get practical knowledge quickly and avoid common issues.
Summing up the experience gained from an embedded system development
Embedded development is challenging but life-changing. Embedded systems are specialized, highly reliable. They demonstrate high performance, excellent uptime and enable real-time computing. That is why the embedded solutions are widely applicable even in sensitive spheres of life, like human physical and mental health, wellness and well-being.
SYTOSS is a full-cycle and full-stack software development company providing services of custom software development, research and development, business and system analysis, system integration, quality assurance and software testing, data migration, maintenance and support and product development. Our portfolio includes sophisticated software solutions for different clients: from individuals and startups to enterprises and Telecom companies. We work with top-notch technologies and consummate skilled experts.
If you have a business idea to implement in an embedded system and look for an IT partner, give us a clue, and we will assist you in reaching your goals.