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Dell IoT Gateway brings BMS to the little guys

Dell recently announced the winners of their Connect What Matters competition, which challenged participants to design an innovative IoT solution with real business impact. One of those winners was Riptide, a cloud-based building management solution that brings automation and oversight capabilities to small and medium commercial buildings.

“In large buildings, they are complex enough to require having a building engineer, so there’s a very mature set of product offerings in that building automation category that equip building engineers to run their big buildings,” said Marti Ogram, Co-Founder of Riptide. “In the small and medium buildings, you don’t have a building engineer. You have baristas and store managers and doctors and teachers – these are just regular people. And those buildings, maybe the smartest thing they have is a thermostat.”

Small to medium commercial buildings make up the bulk of the market, but because of the irregularity of building management systems (BMS) for this class of facility, automation system offerings are often either unfriendly to users or are made up of hodgepodge of devices that have to be managed from separate apps. That’s what Riptide sought to remedy.

Riptide allows users to manage a variety of smart devices and data from one platform. Users can automate their devices and, when things are operating outside of preset parameters, receive a detailed notification on their mobile device or desktop that prompts them to action. For example, if the staff leaves the lights on after close, the user will receive a notification that will ask them if they’d like to turn the lights off. If a refrigerator isn’t maintaining a food-safe temperature, they can call for a repair. Users can also manage pin codes for smart locks, monitor air quality, see if their store has been open late or closed early. Plus, Riptide is constantly adding support for new devices to their offering, allowing more and more device management flexibility for their customers so they can ensure comfort, energy efficiency, and safety for their customers and employees.

“We built a multi-protocol environment to add new protocols and therefore new devices,” said Ogram. “We’re always having to keep up on that game of supporting new Zigbee and Z-Wave profiles, and the Nest now has Thread – it’s just never ending.”

Despite the challenges in creating an easy-to-use platform that accommodates a variety of IoT device protocols and enables the collection and analysis of data all displayed through a simple user interface, Dell made some things easy. As Gold winners of Dell’s Connect What Matters competition, Riptide received $50,000, lab time for Dell and Riptide engineers to collaborate, and a little help getting exposure. By using the Dell Edge Gateway for IoT, they also got the security and reliability they needed built into the gateway platform itself.

“Dell is bringing reliability that’s been missing,” said Ogram. “We had some other gateways before and we had reliability problems. We got Dell’s and it’s solid.”