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Developing for the Internet of Things (IoT) is no easy task. There are lots of challenges and many potential pitfalls. I spoke with Guilherme Spina, founder and CEO of V2COM, about the company’s latest Java-based operating system that’s designed to eliminate common IoT connectivity issues.
Wong: What challenges does V2COM see with IoT development?
Spina: Again, we see IoT solutions encountering the same issues time and time again. Hardware development has to consider the right sensors, communication ports and connectivity issues tied to power management and energy consumption, not forgetting that security is key to IoT and must be present to prevent tampering and illegal data access. Software development has decisions on protocols to use to send data securely to the cloud, how to schedule tasks, store messages, manage and monitor application lifecycles, and integrate all of this data to the right systems, which are complex on their own.
Wong: What common mistakes are made by those new to IoT development?
Spina: Many design choices can appear right at the beginning of a project and become a bottleneck or deal breaker later on. For example, forgetting to enable remote firmware upgrades forces a field trip that costs money when a bug is discovered. The right radio frequency and protocol is also something that works at proof-of-concept stage, but real- world deployment can prove that the choices made are not fit for the use cases.
Wong: Tell me about V2COM.
Spina: With more than 10 years of Internet of Things (IoT) experience and more than one million devices connected worldwide, V2COM provides a platform to turn products into intelligent connected devices.
V2COM’s core offerings and products serve as an operating system that removes the complexity of data protocols, sensors interfaces, security, microprocessors architecture, software application language, and wireless connectivity to create seamless device intelligence.
Wong: What kinds of solutions and services does V2COM offer to its clients?
Spina: V2COM offers comprehensive product development and solutions on hardware, software, and services to enable fast development of IoT solutions. We focus on increasing customer value while reducing project costs and time-to-market, simplifying the product development and deployment time of communication networks, protocol integration, security, and other data-management issues.
All IoT solutions run into similar issues, such as which protocol to use to send data securely to the cloud; how to schedule tasks, store messages, manage and monitor application lifecycles… and the list goes on. There are many ways to tackle these issues and making the wrong choice can cost precious development time.
V2COM helps to abstract these complexities with the Conera platform. Developed by V2COM using Java, Conera is the operating system for IoT. Much like Android was able to reduce complications encountered in smartphone development for touchscreen control, connectivity, and many other aspects, Conera does the same with the complexities of IoT development. It works as an abstraction layer for all hardware, management, and communication functionalities, allowing the developer to focus on business application logic. The abstraction layer also makes hardware changes less of a pain point, as only the hardware driver needs to be updated. Using Conera, IoT development is simplified and accelerated.
Wong: What ultimately sets V2COM apart from its competitors? What makes V2COM unique?
Spina: We make it simple, simplifying the most complex project deployments, increasing value and providing clients with a quicker turnaround time. We also accelerate solution development by eliminating the underlying complexity of IoT connectivity and functionality, freeing manufacturers, businesses, and industry to focus on their core expertise. Finally, V2COM adds value with its proven track record of saving clients millions of dollars in efficiencies and environmental waste with our IoT platform and solutions.
Wong: Can you provide an example of such simplification and acceleration?
Spina: We developed a submetering solution using our fast development model. In 3 months, or 1000 engineering hours, we went from blank page to product ready.
Wong: What devices were built to achieve this solution? What was the development process?
Spina: We developed Dendrion Power, a submeter that has voltage and current sensors to accurately measure circuit-level consumption, and Neuron C, a 3G-enabled data concentrator. Dendrion Power measures consumption every second and transmits this data wirelessly to the concentrator, which in turn process this data and uploads to the cloud. The concentrator allows many different Dendrion devices to be connected in the same network, acting as a hub for all devices.
Our development process is very agile, with many iterations designed to rapidly create a minimum viable product—a product that the client wants with the right set of functionalities built with the least possible effort, time, and money invested in its development. We treat hardware as software. We are able to change hardware parts without having to worry as much about the implications on other hardware and software parts. This way we can choose the right components for the right problems and achieve the best solution for our clients.
As previously mentioned, a key component of our development process is our Java-based Conera IoT operating system. Conera acts as an embedded development layer that allows for easy and flexible product development. This layer enables us to develop the business application logic independently of the hardware complexities for networking and processing, as well as memory and communication protocols.
In other words, as we develop our client’s individual software solutions, we keep in mind that a number of other factors will later come into to play, factors such as networking-related changes or decisions in regard to processing power needs. In both cases, our solutions cater to our client’s unique business goals.
Conera not only isolates variations in hardware, but it also isolates variations of the Java language for embedded devices (Java ME Embedded), gateways (Java SE Embedded), and desktops (Java SE). This takes the proposition of "write once, run anywhere" to the next step, allowing true code reuse, which in turn leads to less software maintenance costs and faster development times.
Wong: What kind of ROI can companies anticipate by utilizing V2COM’s solutions?
Spina: Companies can expect return on their investment by going faster to market and spending less time in trial-and-error development process. By leveraging our expertise in choosing the right hardware and software components to address common IoT problems (networking, protocol integration, security, and other data-management issues), companies will spend less time trying different approaches and having fewer surprises during the product-development process.