The Internet of Things: Building solutions from scratch – an Embitel architect’s account
Software engineer Omprakash Punumalli, Mobility & Cloud Solutions, Embitel Technologies, is very excited about the work he and his teammates have been doing in IoT.
Read on to know about what the team has developed, why challenges are good and what excites him.
What are you currently working on?
We are building our capabilities in IoT and big data analytics. After trials with various protocols and technologies and diligent evaluations, we have attained expertise in various technologies such as Zigbee, the EH (energy harvesting) based EnOcean protocol, and more, through socket programming.
We started with the goal of developing a robust backend that is compatible and can communicate with different platforms and IoT gateway solutions, and we’ve succeeded in doing that.
We worked on designing better cloud solutions to control and monitor smart devices from anywhere, anytime, using web dashboard or mobile application. So, to communicate, your iPhone is no longer dependant only on iOS, and if you have a Samsung mobile, it doesn’t depend only on its own protocols.
What about big data analytics? What are you doing there?
We are equipping the devices to act automatically on the basis of data collected on the cloud. Patterns are detected in this data and consumer behavior is predicted. For this, we have designed machine-learning algorithms.
There’s an interesting story here. When we were testing out these systems, we made a trial setup in one of our conference rooms. After about a month of setting a pattern for using the lights and blinds of the room, the algorithm kicked in one day. Even though I didn’t do anything, that morning, at the same time that I’d been doing it manually every day, the lights went off in the room and blinds shut themselves—all this while the top management was having a meeting in there! My boss came out looked at me knowingly, but when I explained about the automation, he was impressed.
So are you working on IoT and automation in homes only?
Actually, we’ve made great progress in IoT for commerce using beacon technology. Geofencing applications for Android and iOS, proximity detection, motion sensors that are mobile—these are some of the things that we can deliver for IoT in commerce. It’s very exciting to work on these, and then succeed after all the hurdles we face.
What kind of challenges have you faced in the process? And have you managed to overcome them all?
The approach always has been to keep trying every option – every technology, every protocol – till we get it right.
If we find one way of doing things is not working, we discard it quickly and try the next. For instance, we found push notification concepts did not work efficiently in transmitting messages from the mobile app to the IoT gateway.
There was a delay in transmission, and sometimes they would fail altogether. So we decided to use MQTT, an IBM-approved protocol, and we discovered it was the best option. Today, we are equipped to deliver a high-quality solution to customers.
Facing challenges makes the process even more exciting, and you feel great when you see your efforts succeeding. It’s been a fantastic learning experience, and the thought that my work will impact innumerable end users in different parts of the world is exhilarating.
Know more about Embitel’s IoT and mobility offerings for home automation and ecommerce
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