A Better Way to Build Custom IoT Devices: Introducing Auris

This past week, Twisthink officially launched Auris. We’ve been working on our IoT development acceleration platform for the past 12 months. However, the development of it can actually be traced back 19 years to when Twisthink was founded in 2001.

We’ve been designing hardware, software, and firmware for custom IoT devices for two decades. During this period, we experienced the evolution of IoT and the positive impact of IoT for organizations and their customers.

The benefits of creating a purpose-built IoT device can be significant and even transformational for businesses. Look no further than charity: water, who used a purpose-built IoT device to ensure the delivery of clean water to communities of developing nations, literally saving lives and inspiring hope. A second example is Flexco, who used their new IoT system to increase operational efficiency and reduce downtime of their conveyor belts located in remote locations around the world.

For anyone who has experience developing connected products or services, it doesn’t take long to recognize that aspects of the process can be vastly improved.

Although there can be many challenges with custom IoT development, we have found these four to be the dominant recurring challenges:

 

Lengthy development: Typical development for IoT platforms is at least 24 months. Most custom projects are reinventing the same technologies every time, resulting in loss of quality and protracted timelines.

 

Unproven technology: There are thousands of hardware and software components that can be used to develop a single, purpose-built device. However, many of these so-called “off-the-shelf” components are often incomplete and unreliable, especially when combined.

 

Building the wrong solution: IoT devices don’t always live up to the hype, especially when a device is built to solve the wrong problem. Because of the duration and investment of IoT projects, getting it right the first time is the only option.

 

Scalability: Off-the-shelf solutions rarely handle the scalable economics necessary to support the business model, as demand for devices rises.  Operational expenses can quickly outpace generated income. On top of the poor economics, system performance is also compromised due to sluggish data throughput.

 

Based on years of experience creating purpose-built devices and solving these challenges, we saw an opportunity to reduce the frustration and risk of these challenges.

This blog post about the challenges of IoT development hits it right on the nail. The following excerpt wonderfully summarizes the issues and also foreshadows the solution (which is what Auris solves).

“Today, the core components of IoT devices such as a radio, processor, power, cameras, sensors, and GPS are already widely available. However, there is a gap between the available hardware and the high-quality final products that can be cost-effectively created with efficiency, attractive design aesthetics, and the ruggedness required to withstand challenging environments. A modular approach to IoT that leverages smart hardware architecture — and understands a system’s physical components and interrelationships — would open the market to a number of developers and unprecedented innovation in this burgeoning industry.”

We got to work and started to plan out what this platform would look like. Here are the constraints we used when architecting our IoT Platform.

It must support our customers’ digital transformation strategy:

We wanted to create a platform that aligns with our customers’ digital transformation efforts. This meant we needed to make something with native cloud-integrations, full-stack security built-in, able to perform AI processing on the edge, and support scalable economics from launch to maturity.

The end result must be a customizable, purpose-built device created to solve the right problem:

You can purchase a pre-built IoT sensor that will solve the problems I listed above, but that introduces another big challenge: The device has to match your exact needs, including hardware and business requirements. If you can’t build exactly what you need while reaping the benefits of the core platform, then the platform isn’t achieving its goals.

It must reduce IoT development time and get our customers to market sooner:

Time to market is a game-changer for any company entering the digital market space. Reducing development time is non-negotiable for all new developments.  Our solution would not only need to reduce development time, it would simultaneously need to improve the predictability of delivery.

It must significantly reduce the risks associated with custom IoT development:

When building hardware/software products, there are many challenges along the way that result in failure. The new solution should add confidence that the resulting device/solution is exactly what’s needed.

Here’s how we designed the solution:

 

SPEED: IOT DEVELOPMENT IS REDUCED BY AT LEAST 6 MONTHS:

The football analogy we like to use is: “Instead of starting on your own goal line, what if you could start on the 40-yard line with the super bowl winning playbook in hand?” Auris does just that. So, if you’re currently planning to build a custom IoT device and looking at a 24+ month schedule, Auris is the way to go.

The acceleration doesn’t come from speeding the project up, tighter deadlines, or additional project resources. The development is accelerated because Auris provides us with proven core integrated hardware, software, and firmware components ready to go at the start of the project. Having those parts of the project already completed cancels the reinvention of the wheel at the start of the project, resulting in a shorter time frame.

Reducing the timeline creates a huge impact on the launch of an IoT system by allowing our customers to get to market faster.

 

REDUCED RISK: SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN RISK AND COST OF BUILDING AN IOT DEVICE:

There are two big risks with custom purpose-built devices. The risk of building the wrong thing, and the risk of building the right thing, wrong.

To fix that, we engineered the platform to have all of this functionality out of the box:

So, every project starts with the core of your IoT device already configured, integrated, tested, and working. Not only do you get the benefits of starting at the 40-yard line, you also get our proven roadmap for integrating these assets into your application, significantly reducing your risk.

 

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: A NEW, FASTER WAY TO GET PREVIOUSLY UNATTAINABLE INFORMATION:

We started asking our clients: “What piece of information, if you had it, would transform your business?” And that question opened up many ideas and possibilities for how these purpose-built devices could fuel digital transformation efforts.

Digital experiences based on typical digital infrastructure, such as cloud, internet, etc., are commonplace today. What purpose-built devices enable are all new experiences in two important ways. First, new product experiences are created as these devices support users directly. Second, new digital experiences are possible as new data/information from the purpose-built devices become available to existing digital infrastructures. Combining this new data with existing data creates endless possibilities for value creation.

We like to use this graph to showcase how information from your hardware devices can inform your end-user or customer experiences.

IT’S STILL DAY 1

Jeff Bezos famously says, “It remains Day 1” at the end of his annual shareholder letters.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

Organizations that keep moving forward with the speed and agility like it’s Day 1 will see the compounding impact of their efforts.

We believe that purpose-built devices can make a massive impact on any organization pursuing their digital transformation goals. And we believe more and more organizations will continue to adopt digital technologies and processes.

When we saw this graphic make its way around our Slack channels and email, we couldn’t help but nod our heads in unison. Covid-19 is accelerating the need for companies to move fast on their digital needs, and we’re excited to see the transformational impact that will occur because of Auris.

Visit https://twisthink.com/auris/ for more information, and/or feel free to reach out to us directly to schedule a demonstration.

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