When companies decide to connect their products through the internet, they have a big job ahead of them. So big, in fact, that it can represent no less than a total business transformation (my company, Arrayent, even wrote an e-book about that).
A common first step is to pursue a proof-of-concept (PoC) project to convince company stakeholders what their connected products could potentially do. Arrayent has created a development kit (DevKit) that gets basic connected demos up and running with the TI SimpleLink™ Wi-Fi® CC3220 LaunchPad™ kit and also provides interoperability with Amazon Echo/Alexa and a Nest learning thermostat (all shown in Fig. 1 below). Best of all, you can get it all up and running in only 15 minutes.
Figure 1: The Arrayent DevKit with TI’s SimpleLink CC3220 LaunchPad kit enables Alexa and Nest interoperability
It really is easy to quickly create a cloud-connected product prototype. Here’s how:
You will now be able to monitor and/or control features on the LaunchPad board using the DevKit mobile app: two LEDs, a temperature sensor, a switch-operated counter and threshold alerts.
You can then link a Nest learning thermostat and use its ability to sense home and away states to affect attributes on the LaunchPad. Linking a Nest account is easy within the Arrayent DevKit mobile app; just follow the prompts and enter a Nest username and password. Linking to Nest demonstrates the kind of Internet of Things (IoT) product interoperability made possible by the Arrayent EcoAdaptor framework.
You can also control and query LaunchPad attributes by voice using an Amazon Echo/Alexa. To connect your Echo to the LaunchPad kit, log into the Amazon account that contains an Echo and visit the Alexa Skills store to enable the Arrayent DevKit skill. You then can say, “Alexa, ask Arrayent DevKit to turn on the red light” “Alexa, ask Arrayent DevKit what the temperature is,” or any of the other DevKit attributes listed.
While it’s easy to get connected and interoperating with Echo/Alexa and Nest, what comes next is truly the most exciting part. The Arrayent DevKit provides embedded source code, so you can use the CC3220 LaunchPad kit to prototype your actual connected product. You can also configure the data model on the Arrayent cloud to suit the attributes of that product. The mobile app source code is included so that you can prototype the user experience. The only thing remaining is to schedule a demo for company executives so that they can see what a genius you were to get this up and running in less than a day.
TI LaunchPad development kits, SimpleLink microcontrollers (MCUs), Arrayent IoT cloud services and DevKits are tremendously powerful platforms for development. But just being able to connect a product to the internet doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. Be sure to fully envision why the product will be better by being connected, and whether there’s a business model to pay for a product that is always on and needs support year after year. Most importantly, experiment to discover compelling use cases that will either greatly improve the end-user experience or the business case for producing and supporting the product. All the connectivity in the world will not help a product sell, unless you can communicate the benefits at the time of sale. Check out the Arrayent A4 program for tips on how to plan your entire connected product program.
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