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Turnkey gateways enable software framework synergies

The Iamus SmarterSpheres smart retail, building automation, and smart city framework, received a Gold award in the Dell Connect What Matters competition, which asked participants to submit an IoT solution with real business impact based on the Dell Edge Gateway for IoT. The competition opened in October 2015 and winners were announced June 2016.

“SmarterSpheres is an infrastructure platform that allows to manage devices in the field,” explained Oliver Goh, Founder and CEO of Iamus. “The platform itself has three main features: one is to manage applications, the second is to manage data, and the third is to manage the firmware in the field.”

SmarterSpheres uses devices equipped with access, sensing, and video analytics capabilities to create machine-to-machine () sensor networks in public spaces. The turnkey IoT platform comes with 90 preconfigured applications for various vertical markets, while still allowing customers to add value by programming tailored applications to fit their specific needs.

“We have templates for hotels, for shopping centers, for city maintenance, for transport companies. They can take that template and modify it, and within a very short period of time, they have their own application,” said Goh.

The service delivery framework can monitor a variety of ambient factors depending on customer needs, whether it’s foot traffic in a shopping center, trashcans that need emptying, or air quality in a city. Users get insight into customer behavior, maintenance requirements, and more, allowing them to optimize their physical infrastructure, maintenance operations, and service delivery.

“One of the key challenges is to take the complexity out of it,” said Goh. “To create a system that’s pretty much like a Swiss army knife that can cover a lot of use cases, but at the same time, when it’s configured to a certain purpose, it’s so simple that people who are less skilled with technical equipment are still able to use it.”

Iamus originally built their own gateways because the available products at the time didn’t meet their ruggedness and reliability needs. Unfortunately, for a company whose focus wasn’t hardware development and deployment, building their own gateways proved to be a headache. This left them overly dependent on overseas manufacturing, and they frequently ran into issues with durability and warranties.

“We’re not good at building hardware. We didn’t really want to be in the hardware business in the first place, but we had to be because none of the equipment in the old days was reliable enough,” said Goh.

When the Dell IoT Gateway came on the scene, Iamus was able to drop out of the hardware game and unify its focus on refining the SmarterSpheres software framework.

“When we were first exposed to the Dell Edge Gateway 5000 series, we tested our software and our software immediately worked on it. We exposed it to a lot of really nasty conditions – high temperatures, high humidity, very low temperatures, rough environments – and the gateway just worked,” said Goh. “The features they had available, the quality and the robustness, and the warranty that Dell gives with it really made it a no-brainer.”

As part of their prize, SmarterSpheres received $50,000, business and engineering consultation, access to the Dell IoT Solution Labs, and help with everything from pilot deployments to marketing – but perhaps the most valuable aspect of the competition was the connections they made.

“The most interesting part was meeting some of the other winners and collaborating with them,” said Goh. “For example, We Monitor Concrete is very much specialized on monitoring concrete. Their very specific domain know-how in concrete – we could just add that into our offering to make it even more compelling. A lot of synergies came out of that, which is really what the IoT should be about.”

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