How Intelligent Assets can Transform your Connected Products – by Aaron Allsbrook
July 28, 2021
The path to creating a connected product is a challenging one. A connected product most often begins with a product that already exists in our everyday world. It might be a handheld tool, a piece of equipment, or a machine that has value all on its own. This value may be managing the temperature in our homes, it may be a tool that helps us maintain safer airplanes, or it may be a handheld device that measures the air quality of a location. In every case, the product in question provides an intrinsic value. As part of the connected journey, it is realized that if this particular tool, equipment, or asset had the ability to connect and share information about what it’s doing, how often it’s doing it, and where it’s doing it then there is another level of value.
The value of a connected product could come from enhanced end-user convenience such as not having to drive a truck out into a remote location. That value could come from additional intelligence to do its job on an as-needed basis to reduce wear and tear and prolong the lifespan. That value could come from optimizing when it gets used to reduce the amount of energy the product demands. Historically, we have seen connected products be focused on high-end versions with special mobile app features, but more and more connected capabilities have moved down the entire product line to bring broader understandings to save energy, reduce maintenance costs, and provide new pricing strategies. Connected product capabilities are core elements for any product bill of materials.
Whatever the reason for taking a valuable product and connecting it drives many IoT specialists, embedded engineers, and business developers to begin studying how to best get that data into a simple dashboard for others to see. The journey includes a deep understanding of hardware and protocols. In a world where our supply chains have been stretched beyond what we ever imagined, the ability to use many different manufacturers and chips is important beyond just the traditional purchasing discounts. In a world where things move around in and out of buildings with wifi, on highways with strong and weak cellular signals, and out to sea and back to port make it is important to be flexible on how the product connects to the internet. With each new connected use case, there are different ways the dashboard may be needed. Will it be on a mobile phone in the hand of a mechanic or will it be on a large screen TV broadcasting to a command center of dispatchers? What will those users do with the data? Will they interact with the product directly, turning it off, changing the levels, or will it simply result in work orders in other systems? The answer to these questions can complicate your journey to creating a connected product, but what if there was an easier way?
ClearBlade’s Intelligent Assets understands these needs and was designed to make building connected products a repeatable and simple task. Intelligent Assets understands that while there may be many complicated concepts like IoT, Edge, and AI involved in building a connected product, the most important challenge is building the use case that matches the product’s purpose. What does this mean? It means that from within the Intelligent Assets application the exercise of describing your product is a simple one. What attributes are we going to store? Is it temperature, RPMs, vibration rate, prediction of failure, etc? These are all attributes that should be providing value to end-users.
Business customizable attributes are a first step in how Intelligent Assets makes connected products fit the lives of end-users. The same sort of business-focused introspection occurs when defining events and rules. The events are not technology-based terms like “sensor error” but are instead tied to the business concerns of the product. Events like overheating or in vacation mode are much more relevant to the connected product that is valuable to end-users. As the last step, it’s important for Intelligent Assets to help communicate what sort of states are meaningful. Yet again configurable rules allow for building the exact language that maps to the process that your customers already know. Instead of saying “when item temperature > 250 degrees Fahrenheit, you can instead provide the simple statement “when the element is preheated”. This simply means your customers can stick to using the product the way they always have.
It’s important to note that all of these configurations to have your connected product match the usage and terms of your product industry are not done by an expensive by the hour consultant. Instead, this configuration is done by experts in your business, the very people who built the original product that has been successful in the marketplace. This means that a common understanding is built across your product line.
Other areas where Intelligent Assets can help on a connected product journey include the ability to communicate with any protocol. This means Intelligent Assets can work with any device hardware. With that hardware being a critical part of product pricing costs, Intelligent Assets offers a by-device pricing model; meaning you can match your costs for building your product to the overall span of connected time. This massively simplifies how your business understands the profitability associated with your new assets. With scale and security built-in you can be sure that Intelligent Assets is a trusted fit to deliver your connected capabilities and services that delight your end customer.