Appcessories, the physical devices you can interact with from an app on a mobile phone or tablet are a hot product topic right now. After all, with the rise in processing power in smartphones, there really are very few limits to what the phone can provide as a main engine for most devices. Toy, medical and even defense appcessories are popping up all over and many manufacturers have them on their product planning docket. But what do you need to know before embarking on an appcessory development program?
Each smartphone generally has a unique wired connection. The communication interface from the phone to the appcessory device is the most challenging electrical engineering aspect. Each smartphone generally has a unique wired connection for example: the iPhone has a proprietary interface in which a license to use is required, while other phones like Android and Blackberry use USB in general; however, the locations on the phone varies significantly. Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections are other options, but the design intent for both wireless protocols do not lend themselves well to communicating to downstream devices and adds the complexity of having to incorporate RF designs. The audio phone jack is completely universal, yet requires some challenging encoding and decoding data tasks.
The User Interface becomes the face of the device. While it may be tempting to use standard controls when programming for iOS or Android, these experiences may not be optimal for operating your particular device. With ever increasing and improving smartphone and tablet display functionalities, you should deliver an experience that is better than what you were capable of delivering without it. Leverage the hardware and platform capabilities to build product experiences your customers love.
There are security risks. Encryption is essential when dealing with sensitive data, especially in medical and defense appcessories when sensitive information can be in jeopardy during wireless connection. Any software being developed to, for example, store personal data, must undergo security testing.