How to Stay Competitive? Develop Smart Appliances in the Era of Experience

By Estelle

Smart Home Device - Home Control

It is no secret that smart home appliances now are very complex.  No longer is a TV just a TV, or a refrigerator just a refrigerator.  Each smart home appliance needs to be digital, and it needs to interact with people or at least with other machines and devices.  It is connected to the Internet and has a variety of sensors.  It needs to collect data and give you more information, all the while lessening the need for you to actually do something to operate it.  You enter the room and your air conditioning is already up and running, keeping the room at an already comfortable temperature.  You drive up your block and your garage door opens automatically, while also turning on your lights and your TV to the channel that you always watch at that time of day.

It is no wonder IBM found that 71% of global CEOs(*)  now say that technology is the biggest external force that could impact their businesses within the next three to five years.  Most manufacturers now need to prove their competency by developing high technology products in order to stay in the competition. Otherwise, it will be your competitors who are going to give your customers the features and functionality that they want and need.

That is, of course, easier said than done.  In order to make smarter home appliances, you would need to have engineering proficiency in a wide array of areas such as software, mechanical, electrical, fluid, electronics, software, and other specialized areas.  It is not easy to excel in any of these fields, but having the knowledge is already a small part of your success.  You need to know how to bring all of these competencies together to meet what is required of your smart home appliances, as well as figure out what problems to solve and what technologies to use.

Today’s competitive manufacturer knows that looking at individual features and functionality is no longer enough.  You also need to focus on experience as well as product benefits.  Focusing on experience, you would need to know what your customers want to feel, to touch and to see, and how all of these affect their actions and emotions.

To stay competitive, you would also need to use big data to discover your customers’ preferences, even those that were not available before.  Then you would need to be able to translate these insights, experiences, and preferences into product attributes, such as energy consumption, usability, capacity and performance.

Once you know what attributes you would want your smart home appliance to have, you should be able to communicate these specifications to your design teams simultaneously and automatically.  This would mean that all your different design teams for software, mechanical design, electronics and other areas would get the attributes you need and want at the same time.

From there, you should be able to make trade-off decisions on how your design would be met by each of these design teams.  You should also strive to shorten your development time while ensuring that all your design needs are met, by using social collaboration tools and workflow.

And while work is in progress, you should be able to assess and monitor everything in real time.  Furthermore, you would need a virtual simulation of your products’ first prototypes.  This way, you would still be able to fine tune or revise everything that needs to be changed in your product design while still bringing down your development costs.

In short, traditional manufacturing concerns really need to transform their operations into high tech product development companies with the help of solutions such as Dassault Systemes’ Smarter, Faster, Lighter solution.  This way, you can transition into a more competitive and high tech manufacturing company by helping you define processes using established systems engineering principles.  These solutions also allow everybody working on the project to collaborate on your products, thereby making it easier to share knowledge and process that ultimately helps you produce a product that your customers will love.

Interested in #IoT and #SmartHomeJoin Dassault Systèmes, Panasonic, GE and Parks Associates, for strategies to transform product management in the #IoT: February 3:

(*) CEOs-IBM-Survey-2012

Internet of Things: What’s the Big Idea?

By Estelle



Internet Of Things

Written by Hong Bai *

Starting from January 2014, right after Google announced its $3.2 Billion acquisition of NEST, the expression “Internet of Things”, known as IoT, has suddenly become the big buzz word in all different industries. Engineers and business leaders are having all kinds of discussion around this area over social media. And some among them did successfully transform their business by creating disruptive innovations based on IoT oriented technologies, such as Parrot or Withings.

However, among all those discussions and successful business cases, there is one question that was never clearly answered: what’s the big idea about internet of things? I think that everyone may have his/her own answer to this question and there does not exist an absolute definition to which we can look upon. I would like to share my own opinions about the true nature of IoT here.

First of all, to understand the term “internet of things”, we have to start with the word “things” that refers to the products that are enabling IoT usages. There are two important features about these products: mobility & connectivity. These two features have already served in many consumer and industry use cases , and their main purpose is: collecting live information from anywhere at any time. This leads us to the second important element of IoT – data.

When you have one device collecting information for you, the outcome of that process is called data. But when you have billions of connected devices that are collecting all different types of information for you, then it will become Big Data. In my opinion, Big Data is the derived content of IoT. Its purpose is to be analyzed in order to better understand the behaviors of systems or consumers. Once companies can identify the patterns and interrelations among different behaviors, which seem to be random or disordered, they can anticipate events or activities that will occur in the near future and build an offer to bring additional value to users. The best way to deliver such additional value is through services.

Service is the third important element of IoT. It is also the most profitable and valuable part of the entire IoT value chain. If product and data are about creating needs, services are usually designed to be the exact solution to satisfy those needs. For instance, if I have a product which collects information about one’s body weight, it will collect a huge amount of data about people’s weight. From those data, I find out that people will start looking for professional advices once their body weight is 30% above the average. It allows bringing fitness services offering to those people to satisfy their needs. This provides an extraordinary user experience to the end consumers.

Now, the answer to my previous question seems to be obvious, the big idea of IoT is to have connected devices collecting data for analysis, and offer exceptional services based on the result of the analysis, to create unique user experiences.

Are you Ready for the Internet Of Things?  Watch the 2015 SOLIDWORKS World recorded session Mechatronics engineering experience for Smart Devices with SolidWorks” 

* Hong Bai is the High-Tech Industry Mechatronic System Design Consultant @ Dassault Systèmes. In his role, Hong is working with worldwide  leading Electronics companies to support their key business process transformation initiatives. 

How to Take Charge of Your Mechatronic Product Development: The Smart Products Case study

By Estelle

Remote Home Control

The move to producing smart products has been gaining traction in the last few years. Consumers want more out of the products they buy: more flexibility and adaptability, connected and even more portability and mobility. On top of the electrical, mechanical and electronics components that you would find in traditional products, smart products are run by software that also gives rise to more innovation and features that were not possible before.

If the consumer market is opting for a refrigerator that sends you a SMS of the things you need to buy at the grocery or a car that drives itself, then how are manufacturers affected by it?

Businesses making smart products know that these stuffs are also more complex to design and create than their more traditional counterparts.  What this means is that you would need the services of more experts and more professionals in order to bring your products to market.  You also need to synchronize the varied design lifecycles involved in the manufacturing process.

Mechatronic Product Development

Other challenges include a longer time to market, quality issues, redesign and rework, more costs when it comes to product development, and problems with software development.   All of these carry a negative impact on the businesses, especially your profitability.  If you are behind schedule and fail to deliver your smart product on time, then it might mean lower sales and lower profits for you.

Fridge And here’s the thing, complexity will only continue to increase. Not only are consumers opting for smart products, they need something new or something better over time.   In the future, they will no longer want a refrigerator that just lists down its content and tells you what to buy, they will want one that does that AND suggest dishes that you could cook with all the ingredients you have in the refrigerator.

So your manufacturing processes would constantly become even more complex.


The good news is that you can take charge of your mechatronic product development by using better processes and using technology to provide integration, traceability and visibility platforms.

How do you do this? Here are some steps.

  1.  Set the goal and make sure that everybody is aware of what these goals are so that they all work towards it. To be effective in setting goals, you should consider what are needed to achieve that goal.  To illustrate, imagine that you are working on a new smartphone, do you know what your customers are expecting it to have and offer?  In this case your goal would be to create a smartphone that is useful to your customers without cramming in too many features that your customers would not use.
    Now here’s the challenge: product requirements from different domains often have different systems and formats and this leads to fragmented information.  This in turn leads to overlooked requirements or over designed products.
    What you need is a way to consolidate your requirements that are drilled down to actionable details.  These requirements need to be version-controlled so that it could go through the entire product life-cycle, become guidelines for your product’s design and used for product validation.  You can also save time if you can keep this centralized document visible so that you could also update it in the future.
  2. Working with your requirements, you need to come up with a conceptual design. Getting the conceptual design right would help you avoid expensive reworks and redesigns when you find a major flaw along the way.What you need to do is systems modeling and find a way to simulate systems behavior to help your design engineers come up with optimized concept products.
  3.  Validate your product often. Smart products are quite complex so you have different factors that you need to analyze.  When you can simulate the system’s behavior, you can easily validate your product to show that you have made the right decision when it comes to design.  It also helps your designers to analyze, interpret and report results.
  4.  Design by discipline. If you have laid all of your products’ requirements, you can easily have different parts of the product designed simultaneously.  The challenge at this stage is that different disciplines usually mean different tools and different design lifecycles.  However, parallel design efforts can help you cut the time to market.What you need to do is make sure that every member of your team knows what the others are doing through collaboration and communication.
  5. Revise when necessary. Always address errors and bugs in a timely manner, so you might want to manage these changes as well.  The thing with changes is that a change in one component would mean that designs for the others would also change.  As such it is imperative that everybody working on the design of your product knows all of these changes.

In all of these steps, a mechatronics collaboration platform can  help you do what needs to be done to make your smart products even more competitive.

Tech Clarity White paper


If you want to know more on how to master the development of your smart products, advance your business processes and systems maturity, and improve your products quality and time-to-market, download the Tech-Clarity white paper here.

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