The Essential Connected Products Dictionary

Child interacting with smart home tablet in hallway

As you navigate this new landscape, you’ll want to know the language. This Connected Products Dictionary contains the definitions you’ll want to know and some you may not yet be familiar with.  

At Vervint, we help product and medical device companies design, build, and manage smart, connected products and the infrastructure to support them. 

From developing strategic market insights to ensuring edge device connectivity, Vervint delivers effective solutions for industry-leading smart products. With our deep expertise in all the competencies for successful smart product development and launch, you can expect Vervint to work alongside you and your team from inception to post-launch support. 

1. AMQP 

Advanced Message Queuing Protocol. A heavier standardized messaging protocol with a wide breadth of features implemented as a data format definition describing the expected data format for transmission of messages over a network. Includes support for bi-directional sessions, queuing, flow control, delivery guarantees, authentication, and encryption. 

2. API 

Application Programming Interface. A boundary between two components in a software system through which messages can be sent. A very common example of an API in today’s software world is an HTTP API, allowing a mobile application or edge device to send and receive messages from a server on the internet. 

3. Broker 

A broker is a communications service responsible for managing open network connections for participating components, ingesting messages being published in from those connected components and replaying them out to interested subscribers. The central manager of a publish/subscribe messaging model. 

4. Certificate 

File that establishes identity of a digital component, or more specifically establishes ownership of a digital key. This is a crucial part of working through the digital handshakes necessary to build a secure and trusted communication channel where participants on both sides of a connection can identify and trust each other. 

5. Command and Control 

Refers to the capability of issuing command-oriented messages to a connected device in a way that impacts its behavior. 

6. Customer Journey 

This encompasses each touchpoint you have with your customer from when they first become aware of you to servicing repeat customers and turning them into advocates. 

7. Device connectivity 

Refers to establishing a communication channel for your device through which you can send and/or receive messages, and which may include a connection back to your IoT Platform. This could be implemented via a standard (TCP/IP) network connection through the internet back to a cloud based IoT platform, or other communication channels such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) mesh technologies. 

Episode 43: IoT Cost Optimization Featuring Alex Tweedy

Episode 43: IoT Cost Optimization

Listen in to learn how to reduce the cost per device of your connected product, how to identify when it is time to take this step, and where to start.

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8. Edge Computing 

Refers to the practice of pushing as much logic and “brains” (decision-making?) down into the software running on the physical product itself, as opposed to keeping decision-making logic inside the IoT platform environment. Used to reduce the amount of data that needs to be pushed over the network back to the platform, and to reduce latency and reaction time in the physical environment – since decisions can be made much closer to the origin of the data. 

9. Firmware 

A type of software package responsible for directly interacting with the hardware of a connected (or even unconnected) device. For example, firmware is responsible for recording readings off a temperature sensor and forwarding that reading up to the cloud through a network connection. 

10. Gateway 

A special type of connected device responsible for managing network connections, and potentially identities, for multiple child devices below it. Gateways often act as relays that can replay messages from devices on the edge up to an IoT Platform, and back the other way. Commonly used in cases where the edge devices themselves do not have powerful enough hardware to maintain a secure network connection while performing their other tasks. 

11. Ingest 

An IoT Platform capability through which messages published by connected devices are accepted by platform endpoints and stored for action or further processing. 

12. IoT platform 

A communications backend that coordinates inbound and outbound messages for a fleet of connected devices, supporting lifecycle management for a device from manufacturing, through pairing, ingest, command and control, and firmware updates, all the way to sunset. Also commonly exposes APIs or hooks for other applications to interact with the device fleet – mobile or voice applications are common examples. 

13. Journey Map 

A Journey Map is a great way to visualize a smart product’s user experience to identify where users are getting the most value. 

14. Minimum Viable Product 

A useful way to scope a project down to its necessary features. 

15. MQTT 

“MQ” Telemetry Transport. A lightweight, standardized messaging protocol developed by IBM commonly used to implement a publish/subscribe messaging model. Particularly targeted at enabling communication for low-power or bandwidth-conscious devices, though certainly not limited to them (the “MQ” stands for the IBM product line it was initialize developed for). 

16. OTA 

Stands for: “Over the Air,” a shorthand term for referring to the process of sending an update from an IoT Platform or other remote component to a connected device and supporting that device through self-installation of the specified update. Often used to emphasize the remote and autonomous nature of applying the update. 

17. Pairing 

A process by which a connected device is associated with a user or other entity to enable secure access to the device and the device’s data. 

18. Proof of Concept 

A Proof of Concept can be designed to mimic or even simulate the technical elements of your idea to see if it works as expected. 

19. Riskiest Assumption Test 

Using the Riskiest Assumption Test to guide your product development process will have you systematically validating each assumption before you’re over budget and out of runway. 

20. SAFe 

SAFe stands for Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise (SAFe) and it’s the model we use to deliver our work as it allows for synchronization of planning, alignment, collaboration, and delivery across multiple teams. It’s a proven framework often used in complex corporate structures to identify risks and cross-team dependencies early on. It can also be adapted for smaller team structures. 

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21. Sensor 

A hardware device capable of observing its environment and translating that observation into an electronic signal. When built into circuits, the signal can be recorded and shared to build up a useful capability. Examples include optical sensors, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, and many more. 

22. Shadow/Twin 

A platform-side representation of the state of a connected device. Useful for supporting data processing use cases or low-latency queries of device state without requiring real-time interaction with the device itself. More advanced models support two-way state change workflows through the representation, allowing for state-based communication in partially connected device scenarios. 

23. Thing, Durable, Device, Robot 

Several terms that mean the same thing – a physical product that participates in a digital experience through connectivity – sending and receiving messages and interacting with the physical environment around it. Examples include temperature sensors, robotic vacuums, connected switches, smart grills, and thousands of other products. 

24. User experience 

User Experience is the holistic approach to the service provided through multiple interactions and contexts. 

25. Telemetry 

Messages published from a connected device that contain data-oriented payloads. For example, temperature measurements over time or other historical sensor readings. This is opposed to control-oriented messages. 

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