How to Make Hardware Without Losing Your Shirt


While it's important to celebrate what unites hardware and software engineering, the principles that divide our best practices are vital to understand too. If you or your company makes software and wants to diversify into electronics, what does the older but slower discipline teach you about improving your chances?

Since the late Twentieth Century, I've worked as a hardware and software developer, a manager, a consultant, and most lately started a modest little company that ships its own product. I've participated in the rise of Agile, reluctantly accepted silos between engineering disciplines, been involved with hits and flops, and watched decisions (some brilliant, some ruinous) play themselves out. Even in complex and luck-heavy games like ours, certain patterns repeat. I've collected a few of these from the technical and commercial side, asked around for others, and attributed plenty to experience.

Reasonable people share an eagerness to skip stupid and obvious mistakes in favour of clever, inscrutable ones. This talk is for software specialists who are eager to tinker with the physical world for profit and pleasure.

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