Dunstan Power, ByteSnap
embedded.com (September 22, 2014)
ByteSnap is in the business of designing new products for customers, and one of the pleasures of the job is hearing about interesting new ideas that customers have and trying to work out a good route to market for them. Once the project has been discussed, the conversation often follows this course: “I know it is hard for you to say, and I won’t hold you to it, but how much do you think it will cost, and how long will it take?”
This is an understandable question; often the customer is trying to establish whether something is actually financially viable. Without a spec, only a rough idea can be given, and there are always lots of decisions to make in the design process. That is why electronics is an art. Give the same specification to ten engineers and you will get ten, possibly wildly different, designs, all of which may meet the specification perfectly. However, one of those designs will win in terms of unit cost and another (probably not the same one) will win on development cost. A third may have the best technical specification, though providing they all meet the original spec, do these enhancements matter?
This article seeks to explore some of the key trade-offs made when designing a product, with reference to the software and electronic design aspects. It focuses primarily on the commercial and time implications of these decisions.
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