Flying a quadcopter around our office is always a fun activity for our team. A few of our team members are quadcopter pro’s, whipping and zooming through our desks, office doors, and tables.

Smart connected products (SCP), like the quadcopter, are built from a framework called the IoT stack. The IoT Stack is comprised of 5 layers that come together to create a full-fledged IoT solution.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the IoT Stack.

1.Product Infrastructure

The first layer of the IoT stack is where we will define the physical and digital parts of the smart connected product. This begins with the device hardware. What will it look like? What materials will it be made of? We will also define the digital model of the product. We will build this model in CAD modeling software such as Creo.

By establishing the physical and digital makeups of our SCP, we introduce the base of our IoT stack.

In the case of the quadcopter, the physical model is comprised of a hard-plastic body, plastic propellers, a plastic landing base and more. The digital model of the quadcopter is a CAD/solid model designed using Creo. Information like, material type, manufacturing processes, and sourcing information may be included in the digital model.

2. Sensors

In this layer, we carefully identify the sensors and data required. Sensors help us gather the data we need so that our smart connected product performs the way we envision it.

In our example of the quadcopter the sensor at work inside the mini-machine is a gyroscope that measures the orientation of the device.

We now need a way to communicate this data to other areas in our IoT system.

3. Connectivity

In this part of the IoT stack, we need to define the network communication platforms that will connect the sensors in our product hardware to the cloud and then to our application.

There are many different types of connectivity that we can use, including:

  • Bluetooth
  • Radio
  • W-Fi
  • Cellular
  • Satellite

In the example of the quadcopter, radio waves are connecting the gyroscope hardware to the controller (application). With this connectivity enabled, data will now begin to flow.

4. Data and Analytics

Now that we have a physical product with built-in sensors that are “connected,” it is necessary to create our data strategy. We must decide how the sensor data, streaming from the physical “thing,” is digested, organized and used.

An IoT data strategy is critical for businesses who enter the world of smart connected products. The data ingested from these sensors can create new business models, uncover valuable business data and unlock new opportunities.

In the case of the quadcopter, the gyroscope is constantly processing data based on the tilt axis of the device and then processing that data to stay stabilized in mid-air. All of this processed data results in the propellers spinning at the speeds necessary to stabilize.

5. Smart Applications

Now we come to the to top layer of the IoT stack. The application is the tool we use to interact with the smart connected product, and digest the information coming from it.

An important consideration for us will be to decide which operating system to build this application on top of. It could be on any of the following:

  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS

It’s imperative that we storyboard out the application while building our IoT solution. Outlining the UI, UX and interactions is a big step for us to create a user-friendly product. The way that the user interacts with a SCP is what can make or break an IoT product.


The IoT stack is a conceptual design framework that IoT professionals can utilize to create successful IoT products. Every layer of the stack builds on the previous layer. In the end, each comes together to form a smart connected product.

Now that you are familiar with the IoT stack, what will you create?

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