A close collaboration between visionary oven manufacturer Hounö, Design People, and Prevas has now resulted in a complete solution where end customers’ ovens are connected to the cloud and all its benefits, and which also enables many other products to be brought into the same solution.
A single solution where things start talking to each other, where you can pick up aggregated consumption summaries for the whole kitchen, and where preventive service covers not only one product, but ensures that the whole kitchen is functioning smoothly.
Prevas and Hounö have been working together in close collaboration for a long time on developing hardware, embedded software, Linux/Android, web solutions and production testing, i.e. in virtually all disciplines across the field of electronics and software development. The vision for this newer project was a dream of offering access to products, gathering data and offering services and products direct to the customer. This included, among other things, preventive maintenance, software updates, error reporting and statistical data.
A communication dream becomes reality
Previously, Prevas had worked on a new communications infrastructure called Prevas Simple Connect, based on a mix of existing solutions around the MQTT protocol together with a layer of business logic developed by Prevas.
MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) is the current standard for IoT communication and offers a lightweight protocol suitable for resource-limited systems, based on a publish/subscriber model. The protocol overcomes challenges regarding NAT (Network Address Translation) and different address domains with the client establishing the connection and being kept open. If the product is on the customer’s own network behind routers and firewalls, it can still be reached without requiring any special setup of the customer network infrastructure or VPN connections provided that a standard port (such as 80) is open through the network.
Prevas has contributed by taking it one step further and defining clients as well as devices and users. This separation is useful, as devices must be identified on the network using serial numbers, for example, whereas users are often known by their email address. Prevas Simple Connect works to make device pairing as simple as possible and makes it possible to move this part from setup and production to the end user installation without user involvement. Finally, Prevas Simple Connect also makes it possible to create a user and device group hierarchy in which one group can access a number of devices that are hidden from another group, but in terms of inheritance, parent groups can access the devices in child groups.
Prevas Simple Connect are so much more than just an implementation of MQTT. It is a comprehensive solution with an extra layer of logic for managing users, devices, rights, pairing and security.
The secret behind the success
Hounö initiated a collaboration with Design People, who are consultants and experts in innovation and design. They contributed by clarifying present and future customer needs by involving customers and stakeholders in the process. The clear goal was to uncover which customer experiences create value. Through their work, Design People and Hounö have uncovered a whole range of services and patterns of use that together define the Let’s Cook cloud solution from Hounö. Prevas participated throughout the process and has been the technological sparring partner regarding possible technical solutions, and, toward the end, Prevas implemented the solution with regard to Prevas Simple Connect as infrastructure and AngularJS for front-end development. The Let’s Cook cloud solution has now launched.
The most important ingredients in this cocktail are a visionary customer, a design partner who can steer the innovative process toward the interests of the customer, and a development partner that covers the full spectrum of necessary technological skills to realize such a solution from device to cloud. It is not enough to simply be web developers, embedded software experts or hardware developers: all aspects must be covered in order to deliver the complete solution. Collaborations are the key to success!
Future plans and new projects
Hounö’s parent company, Middleby, is planning to extend this solution to its affiliates with Middleby Connect. A solution where the end customer can not only connect their ovens to the cloud with all the benefits that come with it, but can also connect to many of the other Middleby products in the same solution. A single solution where things start talking to each other, where you can pick up aggregated consumption summaries for the whole kitchen, and where preventive service covers not only one product, but ensures that the whole kitchen is functioning smoothly.
For Prevas, it´s really exciting to be their partner and develop a total solution for connected products. We can see that more of our existing and new customers are starting to consider similar initiatives where they begin by testing some smaller proofs of concept. Using existing prototype boards and Prevas Simple Connect, we bring their products to the cloud and then develop a simple product portal where ideas can be tested within their own organization and at customers. In any case, it can be difficult to trust in a business case study, and sometimes it’s about daring to take the leap. Do it wholeheartedly, with passion, and do it together with people who know how it’s done and can provide support with the necessary skills along the way.
Do you want to know more about this project or find out what Prevas can do for you, please contact us.
Søren W. Mathiasen, Sales Management, e-mail