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How IoT Impacts Businesses

August 21, 2019

IoT is transforming businesses as the technology continues to drive business growth and make the business landscape easier to navigate. Use this article to learn real-life case studies about businesses who have implemented IoT solutions. 

When it comes to the latest technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become a powerful force driving business growth and efficiency across industries. 

IoT devices like sensors are cost-effective and impactful, helping companies gather big data, monitor operations, predict equipment breakdowns, and streamline operations. 

On the other hand, the premise of IoT is a gold mine for great product ideas that can solve major and daily challenges alike in a simple way.

The usefulness of IoT is backed up by data: the number of devices continues to grow steadily across industries year after year. 

According to Statista, the connected devices and smart home markets have grown from 822 million devices in 2017 to 1.2 billion in 2018. Meanwhile, the number of devices in Industrial IoT (IIoT) has grown from 356.5 million to 440.8 million when comparing the same years.

How IoT is implemented in real life, however, is another matter. 

We have chosen two IoT cases from our IoT solutions portfolio to show you how technology helps solve challenges in different industries, how it is implemented, and the results.

Plus, we will briefly explore the types of IoT solutions to make your navigation in the IoT landscape easier.

IoT Will Transform Your Business

1) Evaluating types of IoT solutions

2) Case study #1: Building a smart hotel system

3) Case study #2: Developing a custom IoT product 

Evaluating Types of IoT Solutions

The Internet of Things is a large and complex field at the intersection of hardware, firmware, software development, and data management. 

It is important to explore what types of IoT solutions exist, how they differ, and in what types of projects they are commonly used before we start looking into the cases.

IoT solutions mostly range in scale, the complexity of architecture, and enabling hardware. Most IoT projects commonly involve several types of IoT solutions

1) Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions. Large and complex solutions of enterprise-scale that typically use a wide variety of IoT sensors to monitor operations and gather big data, enabling a company to optimize and streamline operations, save costs, introduce automation, ensure security, and more. 

By gathering big data, IIoT gives a birds-eye-view on business, allowing it to become data-driven. This diagram demonstrates how the cloud can connect people's data with various devices. 

IIoT Bird's Eye View Diagram

IoT use cases include: 

  • Predictive hardware maintenance
  • Asset performance management
  • Asset tracking and smart logistics
  • Safety and health monitoring systems
  • Energy consumption optimization
  • Connected logistics platforms
  • Industrial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning management

IIoT solutions typically incorporate machine learning algorithms to process big data faster and help streamline and automate operations further. 

Blockchain solutions like smart contracts can also be part of the equation in the IoT-driven value chain

For example, companies can use smart contracts to track, automate, and secure the delivery of precious or fragile goods across long distances.

2) Embedded software development solutions. These solutions involve building software that communicates commands to devices comprising an IoT ecosystem. The devices may include smartphones and tablets, a wide variety of IoT sensors, RFID scanners and antennas, and beacons. 

Such solutions can take shape at a smart hotel system where guests use tablets to control a range of amenities; an advanced vending machine that relies on a mobile device and several RFID devices; or a smart car system installed into a vehicle’s dashboard that communicates with smart sensors in the car to provide information, security, and gathers data to improve the experience further. 

Embedded software development solutions include: 

  • Custom embedded system development
  • Android firmware
  • Product prototyping
  • Hardware manufacturing
  • Device management
  • SDK development
  • Inter-device data exchange protocol management

3) Android Firmware development. Google’s mobile platform is the backbone of the vast majority of IoT solutions: it is highly customizable, and Android devices are significantly cheaper than Apple’s, allowing companies to create vast, cost-efficient, device fleets. 

For these types of solutions (which are often part of embedded software development projects), IoT engineers typically do the following:

  • Build a custom launcher 
  • Establish IoT sensors, sensor connections, and operations
  • Enforce custom security policies
  • Administer security policies
  • Port the latest version of Android OS
  • Establish over-the-air (OTA) updates and device management capabilities, like monitoring  

Enterprise IoT solutions converge different types of IoT solutions in one overarching project that commonly also involves other technologies, like artificial intelligence and blockchain.

Custom IoT solutions are commonly born out of unique ideas and are built from the ground up as consumer products or unique IoT solutions.

Now, let’s explore the cases touching upon the majority of these solutions.

Case Study #1: Building a Smart Hotel System

One of the projects we completed for an award-winning Asian hotel chain was a smart hotel system for its new, one-of-a-kind luxury hotel. 

The project included embedded software and Android custom firmware development.

Challenge: The new property has a range of different suites, from multi-bedroom rooms to big two-story villas. 

Every suite has a different number of rooms and types of amenities. We needed to create a fail-safe smart room system that would allow guests to control all the amenities with a single device in every room and suite type while delivering the same top-of-the-line guest experience the chain has been recognized for. 

Sub-challenges included converging all hotel-related and important guest information in the device, and ensuring the solution drives sales of guest services.

Solution: After the first meetings with the client, comprehensive research, and visiting the hotel site, our team opted for a compact Android app as the cornerstone device for every smart room. 

The tablet allows guests to control light, windows, air conditioning, and TVs and other media devices. 

The guests can also order a wide range of guest services, chat with stuff, get notifications, and access useful information (flight schedules, hotel entertainment facilities, restaurant menus, and other). 

Smart room solution properties:

  • Cloud-based, integrated into client’s systems
  • Scalable to any number of properties
  • Quick update roll-out: takes a couple of hours across all locations 
  • Comprehensive device fleet management: easy provisioning and configuration, smart OTA software updates, unified fleet-wide security policy enforcement
  • Big data analytics and machine learning capabilities

All through the project, our IoT engineers and other team members closely worked with the client both on and off-site to ensure the smart room systems worked perfectly. 

For the off-site work to be as effective as on-premises work, our team has built a scaled-down, portable prototype of the room.

Impact: We finished the solution in a limited time frame, and the hotel opened its doors on time with fully operational smart rooms to support the upscale hotel experience expected by the hotel chain’s guests. 

We continue our partnership to expand the functionality of rooms further, as well as work in other technology-related areas. 

Case Study #2: Developing a Custom IoT Product

A Californian company Adero wanted to build a consumer electronics IoT product that allows users to keep track of personal belongings, and got in touch with Intellectsoft for help in several key areas. 

Challenge: Adero faced fierce competition in the market, and the only way to excel was to create a flawless product. Adero’s team had talent and experience. They have built similar products that were successful. Still, to thrive in this market, the company needed to overperform on all fronts.

While Adero began working on design, firmware, hardware, and software with different development partners, there were two missing pieces to the project’s puzzle. First, establishing interoperability between all IoT devices that were part of the product.

Second, ensuring the product is simple, as it was aimed at users of different tastes, age, and abilities. This is where Intellectsoft stepped in to help Adero in mobile, cloud, and microservices development. 

The logic behind Adero’s product was established as the following. The tracking system (called (Smart Tagging) consists of small tracking devices, parent trackers, and a custom mobile app. 

Smart Tagging Technology

The user places the parent beacon (called a Smart Tag) on a bag, the smaller trackers (called Taglets) on the things they usually put in that bag; and then register the bag and its tags in the mobile app. When the user leaves something behind, the app sends a notification after communicating with trackers. The user can organize their bags, trackers, and notifications in the app.

Solution: We have been working with Adero through a combination model from our development centers, as well as on-site in a client-facing capacity at Adero’s offices.

Here are some of the areas we collaborated in:

  • iOS app MVP architecture (Swift)
  • Android app MVP architecture (Java)
  • Custom Bluetooth communication protocol
  • Advanced rule validation and notifications engine
  • Custom User Interfaces and Motion
  • AWS cloud backend solution
  • Platform build on Ruby and Node.js
  • Mobile app development
  • Hardware onboarding and communication security
  • Installation of microservice architecture

Adero and Intellectsoft teams established close collaboration, enjoying great work synergy and sharing niche knowledge across a wide range of fields. 

Impact: Top U.S. tech media outlet Fast Company ranked Adero #10 in their list of Most Innovative Companies of 2019 in the Consumer Electronics segment. 

The company stands beside the majority of the tech industry’s giants, including Apple, Google, and IBM. 

Meanwhile, the customers enjoy Adero’s simple and elegant product that helps manage life’s essentials easily and comfortably.

Nothing is Impossible With IoT

As you can see from the cases above, every IoT project requires a specific approach, diverse skill set, and relevant industry expertise. 

There is no template — every IoT solution should be approached individually to work effectively and deliver on its promises. 

IoT projects are challenging. Still, leading enterprises have been using the technology for years, and new IoT products continue to emerge and enjoy their success.