Android Things — the new swiss-knife to build hardware
| Hardik Goswami | - @geniushkg
Yes, you got that; it’s correct.
A hardware product is hard to build for various factors involved with it. And even harder for a startup to build one when resources are scarce and success purely depends on time-to-market with the product that people will want.
Cost - According to Subhedar of Bang Designs, any hardware startup needs a minimum investment of USD 1 million to 1.5 million to build a prototype, while its software counterpart can have a prototype ready with a few thousand bucks.
Risk - Software is built on top of multiple re-usable components, so it is possible to reuse code in case of pivoting, which is not possible for hardware products. Anything that comes out of the foundry is permanent and can only be sold differently by changing the packaging. Everything else remains the same, unless there’s lots more money to burn.
Talent - It is comparatively easy to find mobile devs/backend devs to build a software product. Efficient embedded tech devs are not that easy to find.
Support - For software products, there are many third-party backend-as-service/function-as-service options, like Firebase, Azure functions and AWS Lambda. Tools reduce time-to-market and enable faster iteration, which is not possible with hardware products.
The Solution - Google’s Android Things
Google has promoted Android Things on the Android developers web page as Bringing Device Production for Everyone.
Android Things helps you make mass-market products on a reputed platform, without any prerequisite like prior experience of working with embedded systems.
Cost : It eliminates the upfront cost of buying dev boards and kits or outsourcing to design firms. You can make your prototype on compatible hardware and have various iterations for fixed cost which plays very well with fail-fast runs.
Risk : There is no need to order quantities in volumes of 100k or more. You can buy one single dev board and test your solution. This helps to completely remove the risk of production cycle failure.
Talent : Current developers who work on Android apps can use their knowledge to give your dream a shape. Approx. 3 million devs worldwide can plunge into development with android things right this moment.
Passive support : All Android Thing boards come with pre-certified networking capabilities, so extending the device functionality of your prototype to talk over HTTP is a no-brainer and, by default, included into the framework.
Certification itself can cost thousands of bucks and a lot more effort to build the hardware prototype. Android Things comes in with pre-certified SOM (System on module) boards. It also has certified turnkey solutions and with prefered partner’s solutions to mitigate logistic delays. These allow timely and well-controlled delivery.
It works out of a box with raspberry pie which you can just power up, load Android Things and start building.
Hardik Goswami leads the Android Team at Influx. He has a graduate degree in computer science engineering and has contributed to VLC mediaplayer. A keen student of the Hatha Yoga philosophy, Hardik is mad about aircraft and confesses to an “uncontrollable desire for superpowers”.