The certification of an IoT device

Wherever we plan to market our IoT device, getting it certified is often a long trip… and we are not always ready for it!

Here are few points that may help you in this big adventure!

The certifications diversity

There are different kinds of certifications:

  • the regulatory certification that depends on the country where the device is commercialized (FCC for North America, RED for Europe, etc…)
  • the certifications related to the radio technology embedded in the device (Wi-Fi Alliance certification for Wi-Fi devices, SigFox Ready Certification for SigFox devices, etc…)

Most of the time, you will have to go through both certifications for a single device.

logo FCC axible objet connecté        logo wifi axible objet connecté          logo sigfox ready axible objet connecté

The “auto-certification” trick

Some certifications do not require an official approval from an accredited lab. For instance, in Europe, you can apply the “CE” mark on your device if you can prove through a self internal test report that your device complies with the european norms.

Yet, unless you have a regulatory norms expert in your team and an anechoic chamber with all the radio equipments within your company… you will eventually have to work with an external lab to:

  • carry out the required tests
  • execute them properly and to build the test reports

logo CE axible objet connecté

Certifications are costly

The certification costs may have a significant impact on the device cost price, especially if you make low-cost / low-volume devices. For instance the RED certification (for Europe) for a basic SigFox device will cost around 10K€.

This cost has really to be considered from the beginning of your project.

Certifications take long

Between the overbooked lab with 3+ monthes delay to get a slot to run the tests, running the tests themselves, building the reports and potentially getting the final approval from the regulatory authority, it can take 6 monthes (or even more) from the initial discussion with the lab till the legal permission to put your device on the market.

If you plan for a short time-to-market, you will have to start this process as soon as possible.

Pre-certification: a good idea

If you don’t want to add additional costs and delays later, and more importantly if you do not want to take risks, it is a good idea to “pre-certified” your device.
That means running the most sensitive tests before going through the official certification process.

That will allow to make changes on your design without running the full certification twice.

If you do not have the required equipments to do so, the labs may propose this service.

Getting both hardware and embedded software certified: ok but…

From a legal standpoint you have to certify both your hardware and your embedded software.

For the hardware part, no problem, you just have to wait for its final version before going through the certification process.

For the software part, it is much more complicated!

First, if your device can be upgraded over-the-air, its software will eventually change someday…

Secondly, if the test process requires your device to transmit 1000 radio frames but your device is designed to send only 1 frame per day… that is going to be a problem

In fact, 99% of the time you will have to develop a specific software for the tests…. that has to be as close as possible from the final one.

It is very important to clarify as soon as possible with the testing lab what will be the required test modes to be implemented and what are the possible control points on the devices (display on screen, blinking LED, push button, etc…). Don’t hesitate to initiate this discussion with the lab: most of the time, implicitly, you are supposed to know everything about certifications!

To sum up, by taking into account the costs and starting the whole process at the beginning of the project, it is possible to go through this journey peacefully. Otherwise Axible is always there to help you.

Written by

Julien Brongniart, Hardware Team Leader
2018-04-26T15:19:58+00:00December 14th, 2017|Technology|