IoT in Action | Episode 8 | Detroit Labs: building mobile IoT apps
The internet of things is a complex technological movement made up of layers of software and hardware used to work together to collect, analyze and act on data. As complicated as an IoT deployment can be, the end-user wants to see results on a simple, streamlined and effective platform. Detroit Labs, a Michigan-based IoT apps development company, is creating mobile and web applications for the internet of things, hoping to bring consumer-based app expectations to the industrial floor.
“I think that has been the mindset for years, ‘different people different needs,’ so what you see in the B2B space or the people on the shop floor – you see a very engineer-designed application,” said Dan Ward, co-founder and chief creative officer at Detroit Labs. “There is good investment from a time and money standpoint to create a good user experience. Users are using phones at home, they are using Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – they expect their tools at work to start behaving in the same way. There was a shift where consumerism began to push enterprise IT, you see before when people were given a Blackberry, and they have taken a hit, but they took that hit because people have used iPhones and Androids at home and they want to use them at work.”
That approach is exemplified in the company’s product for Badger, a logistic company that helps company’s find shipping carriers to transport goods. Detroit Labs developed an app that only requires a swipe to update shipment statuses, and allows for background location reporting using a smartphone GPS. The application is linked to a web portal that allows shippers and carriers to monitor and modify their shipments.
“Building great software from the focus of a user allows us to simplify very complex things – specifically IoT – anything from ordering food, connecting to lights to starting your car. We want to make sure we are looking at it through a user lens,” Ward said. “For any of these connected things to be useful, the person has to know what it means for them and why they need it in their life. That is a big focus of how to make things simple.”
Data is a critical element in the IoT, and making a deployment’s collected data actionable is a key goal for the company.
“If it is not actionable and you are not getting adoption by the people who have to use this in their environment then it is just data for the sake of data,” Ward said. “We are doing that heavy lifting through the user interface.”