IoT

The Radius App

What can a mobile Application for ophthalmologists do?

The Bluefin team recently teamed up with Radius by Turf Health, LLC to develop a robust mobile application for ophthalmologists. Through an Agile development process, we delivered a mobile application that helps manage the relationships with and around ophthalmologists.

Learn more about our process below!


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The Client: Radius by Turf Health, LLC

Turf Health, LLC is changing how ophthalmologists connect and collaborate with referring doctors.

Radius by Turf Health, LLC is the first and only software program built specifically for the referral outreach function of the ophthalmology practice.  This is powerful software to fuel your growth and build deeper relationships


The Opportunity

The Turf Health team has an existing web application for their sales team to help manage the relationships with and around ophthalmologists. Since teams mainly work out in the field, accessing and capturing critical relationship and sales process information in real time was paramount to their day to day activity.   

The existing Radius web application did not provide an optimal experience on mobile devices and curbed the efficiency of their staff when developing and extending the business relationships in the field.


The Process

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The project spanned a rapid-four month discover, design, develop, and deploy process.

The scope of activities included but were not limited to:

  • Existing application tear down

  • UI/UX mobile design refactoring

  • Service layer design and definition

  • Application prototyping

  • Production code development

  • Unit and integration test scripting

  • Release Management planning and execution

  • Alpha/Beta Testing

  • App Store Preparation and Deployment

  • Post-launch support


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The Results

The Bluefin team was able to work closely with Turf Radius to align quickly on the scope and goals of the project.  Leveraging an Agile development, build, and demo cadence the team lead the Radius product through an evolutionary transition from lo-fi mockups to a first-submission approval in the Apple App Store.


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Need a mobile app to launch your business to the next level? The Bluefin team is here to help! Give us a call or send us an email. We’re ready to digitally transform your business.

Let's Catch Up

Hey friends!

We can hardly believe we’re already in March! We’re celebrating our 6th year in business this year. A lot has changed throughout the years, but we’re still your favorite, creative disruptors and technology innovators from the Woo.

We take pride in helping so many companies throughout the years bring their businesses to the new age of technology. We recently redesigned our website and want you to take a look. Give it a look around and let us know what you think.

While I have you… does your business need a new way to integrate technology into your products or possibly bring your customers into the new Voice age? Looking for a brand a website refresh? Perhaps a cloud integration to more efficiently optimize your business? This is just some of what we’ve been helping companies achieve in the last year.  

From connected products to Voice Skills, we are here for you.  We are just getting started on an exciting year ahead of us. Let’s catch up soon and let us know what you are up to. Give us a call or send us a message. We’re always here to help.

Happy Spring!

- Jay

Designing Connected Health Products People Love

Uplift Cooperative recently attended the Partners Connected Health Conference in Boston's Seaport District.  Uplift attended the event as a sponsor and promoter,  and showed off some of our impressive technologies at our booth in the "Connected Health Pavilion".  We worked with our Uplift Cooperative partner, Cantina, to host a Design Thinking Workshop.  As a follow-up to the very successful workshop, where over 80 people attended, the authors of the Workshop have created a 2-part series blog post about "Designing Connected Health Products People Love".  We are pleased to be a partner of Cantina as part of Uplift and also pleased to present the first part of that series: Several years ago, the designer Jonathan Shariat wrote an arresting blog post entitled “How Bad UX Killed Jenny.” It’s a cautionary tale for anyone working at the intersection of technology and user experience.

It describes how a young patient recovering from an aggressive cancer treatment died in a hospital due to a lack of hydration. Although hydration was part of the recovery protocol, and despite the fact that the nurses on staff each had over ten years of experience, something went terribly wrong. How did they miss this critical information when the charting software was developed precisely to ensure that each step in treatment was taken and properly recorded?

... to find out more about this revolutionary design thinking click here!

Make sure to follow us for part two of this 2-part series.

Voice Apps are the New Mobile Apps of the Day

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The Voice Assistant and Voice Interface market for the past few years has experienced an increase in demand for high quality voice apps. Although the market as a whole is in the growth stage, the need for well designed voice apps has arrived.

Voice Assisted Devices

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Smart speakers, and devices with voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant has boomed in the past year. If you look farther down the line, analysts predict that by 2020, up to 75% of all US households will have some sort of smart speaker in the home. There is no doubt that this market, just like the mobile phone market of the late 2000s, will see a massive influx of voice apps to support that consumer demand.

Voice Assisted Applications

The Alexa App Store is glutted with daily briefings and trivia apps. But analyzing the usage of most apps you see that many people will use a skill once and never “touch” it again. The market is longing for valuable voice interactions that give users cause to interact with them on a regular basis.

Benefits of Adding Voice to Your App

Companies have seen three main benefits from implementing voice interactions into their apps. 1) By receiving exactly what consumers are asking, businesses are able to tailor content on other platforms to best fit the information customers are looking for.  2) Some companies have found that voice interfaces can fill needs otherwise unreached by standard interface structures and 3) they have also seen that consumers feel that voice can be much more convenient and immediate than their traditional content acquisition solutions.

For more information on getting a voice app developed and launched along with a full report on the voice assisted market, get in contact with us here.

Is Voice The New Touch?

Gone are the days when your home’s IoT devices are controlled through your smartphone or web browser. With smart speakers entering more and more consumer residences, smart home  product interactions have shifted to include non-tactile interfaces which foster unique experiences. Consumers have shown that they are behind the shift, as the number one selling product during Amazon’s Prime Day on July 12 was their Echo Dot. The ability to execute commands and receive information passively without directly changing your task at hand seems to be highly valued by users. Another important feature about these products is that they can be easily integrated to work with other devices as control hubs. With the release of Google Home last November, and the arrival of a second giant to the playing field, the smart speaker/virtual assistant market entered the growth stage of its product life cycle. Prior to this, Amazon’s Echo series had controlled the market with other products launching, but either not creating traction, or having a large enough ecosystem to give them a retainable foothold. While both the Echo and the Google Home have similar functionality, the way in which they interact with other products along with the ecosystem architecture lends for different experiences depending on what product you use. Both products allow users to integrate other devices and services into their voice controlled environments, but use different methods to achieve the same purpose.

Being the first major smart speaker in the market, the Amazon Echo has had a massive lead over Google Home. This is represented in the number of Echo Skills, what amazon calls its voice apps, that have been developed since they released their device. A staggering 15,000  skills have been developed as of June 2017, but it is important to note that a large number of these have only been installed under 100 times. Skills are either integrations or dedicated apps for the device. Skills have been available for the Echo since launch with developer support from the beginning. Skills are handled through an app store experience where you to install individual skills onto the Echo based on users interests. Google takes a different approach with their Google Actions, their version of the same kind of app. Actions are not separate apps that need to be installed on the Google Home, rather Actions get directly integrated into the Google Assistant and can be used immediately by users. Users can still browse available Actions through a directory. This has the benefit of not requiring users to choose apps they need ahead of time. Conversely with Actions, users may find that there are more features than they actually use build into the system.

Neither Amazon or Google’s ecosystem is very challenging to integrate into current systems with straightforward processes for implementation. Both platforms have similar introductory courses on building a simple fact based app for either Alexa or Google Home. Both programs have incentives for developers to build on their platform. Google is currently trying to increase their total number of Actions through cash prizes, while Amazon has a longstanding rewards programs including Echo dot and other perks.

We suggest that the first voice based platform you introduce your product on be Amazon’s Echo through their Skills. There are currently many more users, the build time for the integration is similar to Google’s and if you are in individual developer you are more likely to get some Echo merchandise by releasing a Skill. The caveat that is the Amazon will require you to produce documentation to inform users to install your Skill. But in the short term, it is more likely that your user will actually own Amazon’s product over Google’s. Long term, Google will be a better system, because they have a much more established and wide reaching ecosystem, along with stronger computing potential. Currently their market share is much smaller than Amazon making them a less beneficial first development choice.'

Need assistance building your first Alexa skill? Click through to let Bluefin help you!

Do you have an IoT project you need help with? Bluefin Technology Partners helps companies build amazing connected solutions. We understand the complexity and collaboration required between organizational disciplines in order to deliver an IoT product to market on time and on budget.  We provide the services needed to assess your market, manage your partners, and shepherd your project through successful launch.

Integrated Platforms for Smarter Homes

Throughout our “IoT Industry Series” we have discussed how the Internet of Things is present and growing rapidly  in different industries like food and beverage, smart health, and animal health. This week we are discussing Smart Homes and the integrated platforms that exist to connect smart devices around the household.

“Smart Home” is the term commonly used to define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio & video systems, security, and camera systems that are capable of communication with one another and can be controlled remotely from any room in the house, or from any location in the world by smartphone or Internet.

Smart Homes are the latest addition to the IoT world and technology companies are making [and connecting] products to make homes smarter and users more engaged. Companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon have created products that connect all of these devices to one overall smart source.

Google Home

Google Home is a smart speaker developed by Google that enables users to speak voice commands to interact with services through the Home’s intelligent personal assistant called Google Assistant. Google Home integrates a large number of third-party integrated products that allow users to control the connected products and the device’s features entirely by voice. Google Home has integrated support for home automation features, letting users speak commands to the device to control smart home appliances.  

Apple Home

Apple was one of the first consumer-facing technology companies to commit to the smart technology for modern households. Apple created a software platform called IOS Home where you can easily control all  HomeKit accessories. “HomeKit” is a framework created by apple that provides accessories that are compatible with iPhones. HomeKit is where users can purchase products like sensors, automatic locks, and thermostats that are connected through the Apple Home application on all iPhone owners. Apple then created an on-line web and mobile shopping experience  that lists all the products that can be easily connected to one independent and individual source. The focus of Apple Home and Home Kit is to build your own smart home from the palm of your hand.

Samsung SmartThings

Samsung SmartThings is the control  center of your future smart home. Users can control, automate, and monitor their homes from anywhere in the world with the use of the SmartThings App. Similar to the products mentioned above, SmartThings by Samsung connects most of the [smart] products around the home into one simple source. Users can connect, control, and manage products like thermostats, smart locks, and security systems from SmartThings application in their smartphone.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker developed by Amazon.com. The device connects to the voice-controlled personal assistant Alexa. Similar to Google Home Alexa is designed to play music, set alarms, stream podcasts, provide the weather and traffic, playback audiobooks and provide a hub for future smart devices in your home..

All of these products are the new wave of the IoT and smart product industry. Internet of Things is always making life easier and more connected for users. Thanks to IoT, homes are being built today with all of these connected features. It is only a matter of time until we can personally speak to every appliance and electrical device in our home

Do you have an IoT project you need help with? Bluefin Technology Partners helps companies build amazing connected solutions. We understand the complexity and collaboration required between organizational disciplines in order to deliver an IoT product to market on time and on budget.  We provide the services needed to assess your market, manage your partners, and shepherd your project through successful launch.

The Internet of Animal Healthy Things: IoAHT

The Internet of Things (IoT) has connected more industries than ever before. As we know, IoT has advanced the Medical and Health industry in many ways.  Recently we wrote about how Granny Pods help our older citizens age in place..  We have also written about how  IoT is connecting you to your best friend and faithful companion.  IoT is now reaching much further  than our pets. IoT is engaged in  the animal industries as a whole and its changing how we care for our animals for the better.

Animal health is normally broken up into two primary segments: large animals and companion animals. This week’s blog post focusses on Animal Health and how IoT has helped different segments of animal health from large animals, to wildlife, and smaller animals/pets.

Wildlife  

IoT companies have developed  new connected products  that help to preserve natural spaces around the world, keep our wildlife safe and fortunately even going so far as to save them from extinction.. One of the main ways IoT accomplishes this is through connected tracking devices.  The devices monitor their movements and behaviors thereby  making their lives  safer and more secure. One innovative (and large!)  product for monitoring is Elephant Tracking, a GPS elephant collar that  tracks the elephant’s position in real-time and transmits the location and movement patterns to the park rangers smart phone.

Farm Animals

The farming world will realize huge benefits  from  IoT in the area of  animal health. Silent Herdsman is a neck collar that tracks all cows’ activity, detecting changes in their behavior, and data about their vital functions  This data helps  the farmer to know exactly when the cows are sick, pregnant, and most importantly when the best day for milk production is.

IoT intersects with the animal health industry, this developing sector is often called the Internet of Animal Healthy Things, or IoAHT. IoAHT software and hardware maximizes the efficiency and health of livestock. Most of the innovation around IoAHT technology has been focused on the hardware/wearable tech devices that are attached to the animals themselves and transmit info to data to data collection and analysis  systems. An example is TekVet, a health monitoring system that can immediately identify a rise in temperature that is associated with many common illnesses, allowing the livestock operator to perform early, and more successful, treatment. The monitor can track early signs of illness allowing the operator administer  early treatment and reduce livestock loss.

CattleWatch is a GPS tracker that monitors and records the cattle’s location. More importantly it monitors health conditions and predator activity, creates invisible fences that restrict cattle movement, and allows livestock producers to send out drones from their smartphones which collect live video feeds of their herds.

 

Pets

Something closer to home and an example of how IoT is helping pet owners care for their best friend  is the LINK AKC. Created by the American Kennel Club, the LINK AKC is a smart collar that combines the most advanced technology putting your dog’s needs and location right at your fingertips whenever you need it. LINK is the only curved smart collar designed to comfortably fit all dogs. The system allows a tracking unit that fits comfortably on the dog’s collar that helps with pet wellness, dog location, and keeping your dog happy and healthy.

Another example of Pet IoT is Clever Pet; an engaging ‘dog trainer’ that keeps your dog active while you’re away from home.  The product has a number of different modes that provides your dog with easy activities that progress to more difficult mental tests so that your dog stays stimulated and never gets bored. Clever Pet provides treats for successfully completing activities and sends live updates to pet owners via its mobile application.

We can’t forget about our cats! Tailio turns your basic cat litter box into a connected ‘smart’ litter box. Tailio sits underneath your litter box and monitors your cat’s weight and amount of waste produced. More importantly, it tracks the frequency of activity within the litter box and analyzes this data to determine whether your cat is healthy or if it may be trending towards an unhealthy condition so that you can be warned proactively via their mobile app.

IoT is helping all animal owners become more familiar with their animals health needs. As healthcare and wellbeing is important for human beings, it should also be important for our animals (pets, wildlife or farm). Animals can be our most loyal companions.. As much as they love and care for us and give us enjoyment, we should show them the same love, care, and appreciation.

 

Do you have an IoT project you need help with? Bluefin Technology Partners helps companies build amazing connected solutions. We understand the complexity and collaboration required between organizational disciplines in order to deliver an IoT product to market on time and on budget.  We provide the services needed to assess your market, manage your partners, and shepherd your project through successful launch.

Granny Pods are the New Assisted Living Centers

New and innovative IoT (Internet of Things) products are connecting you to your loved ones in many new ways. MedCottages or “Granny Pods," as they are oftentimes affectionately referred to,  are self contained housing units that you can drop into your backyard - adding a second home for your aging loved one.   Being close and accessible to the caregiver and providing state of the art in in-home aging amenities, Granny Pods are an up and coming product of the Internet of Things world.   The American Association of Retired People (AARP)  estimates there are over 23 million Americans that take care of their elderly parents. However, finding the perfect place for them to live in a comfortable, familiar and safe place is difficult  and [often] expensive. On many occasions, children do not  want to leave their parents in an assisted home facility on their own, or sometimes it is not in their financial abilities  to do so either.  In addition, the aging person most often wants to maintain a certain level of independence.  They want to continue their lives in a home where they control their lives.

IoT and the tech industry have come up with new products that will make aging [and life] easier for all families. MEDCottages or “Granny Pods” are tiny homes loaded with safety features and technology.  They are designed by a Blacksburg, VA company with help from Virginia Tech.  Variations of this original design are popping up from other housing manufacturers.   In each case, the mini-homes are designed for the very specific purpose of providing a fast, convenient and safe solution to aging in place.

 

 

The basis of the Granny Pods are small modular  guest houses designed to be installed in a backyard, with all the latest high-tech medical extras. Embedded IoT devices add to the  ease of caregiving and make it accessible for those that want their elders close and taken care of with dignity. The small dwelling is hooked up to the main home’s existing sewer, water and power lines. Some of the standard features include hand railings, defibrillators, first aid supplies, lighted floorboards and a soft floor to minimize damage from falls.  From an IoT perspective devices range from voice assisted lighting, locks  and appliances control to bi-directional hands free communications with caregivers anywhere in the home.   Motion detectors can monitor for falls and send alerts accordingly.

IoT has made its way into the Medical and Health industry and, like always, it is looking for ways to make our lives easier and safer. Granny Pods are allowing elderly family members to live in high-tech backyard cottages for aging in place, assisted living, and caregiving right in their loved one’s backyard.

   Do you have an IoT project you need help with? Bluefin Technology Partners helps companies build amazing connected solutions. We understand the complexity and collaboration required between organizational disciplines in order to deliver an IoT product to market on time and on budget.  We provide the services needed to assess your market, manage your partners, and shepherd your project through successful launch.

Choosing the right Power Solution for your Connected Product

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By: Jay Cahill of Bluefin Technology Partners Over the years Bluefin has developed a pretty wide and deep set of experiences in developing connected products.  We continue to get requests from the IoT community at large to share some of those experiences. To satisfy this request we are commissioning a series of blogs that focuses in on some key aspects of IoT development; one tidbit of knowledge at a time.

With that in mind, we thought we’d start off the series by sharing some thoughts and  considerations about “Powering your Connected Device.” Here are a few top of mind areas to consider  as you start to layout your Connected Device Power Strategy. 

The Basic Requirements

As you begin, it's critical to get a firm understanding of the Who, Where, What, When, and How of the product as they shape the fundamental principles of your design.   

  • Where will it operate?

  • Who will operate it?

  • What will it do?

  • When will it do it?

  • How will it communicate what it’s doing or has done?

  • Where will it Operate?

Where will the product be deployed and what will be the operating environment?  The answers to these questions inform the decision to use a constantly available  power supply or the  need to design a solution based on battery technology to power it.   

In addition to the  power draw required for normal operations of the device, the accessibility of the device could greatly impact your power designs when you have to consider that these devices may need remote access to update the firmware that runs on them. Remote updates require network accessibility and the transfer of files - meaning modems or wifi or some other radio controls - thus driving requirements for more juice.

  • Who will operate it?

Understanding the intended audience of the product and their ability to manage  the product is extremely important as you need to determine what capabilities they have in assisting in the management of the power for the device. While we should optimally design for autonomous power management in the device, you may have flexibility in your battery requirements if the operator of the device can provide a level of monitoring and metering over that device. Case in point, if the device is for human use, you are more likely to get their participation in managing power consumption versus a pet wearable, where  Rover just doesn’t care about how many bars are left on the battery meter.

  • What will it do?

The most obvious consideration for power requirement  is sorting out what functions the device will do. Fortunately or unfortunately, not all sensors and their communications mechanisms are made power consumption friendly.  For example, if you wanted to use a connected device to monitor your crops to ensure that they are getting watered properly you could develop a connected device that photographs and forwards hi-resolution photos of the crop to the cloud where they can be analyzed and compared for color and content to affirm proper watering -- Or -- you could develop a connected product with sensors that transmits text-based moisture readings from the soil that can affirm proper watering has taken place.  Same results, very different power and hence battery requirements.

  • When will it do it?

Regardless of task, the regularity of its execution will drive power needs.  In the design of a connected product you often find yourself balancing the frequency of polling the sensor, the size of the information you are capturing and the timing of offloading the data from the device.  Should you do small bite size data transmissions more frequently or larger, longer transmission less frequently?  The timeliness of the information needs to be weighed against the availability of power to supply the updates.

*** Recommendation

Once you have a firm understanding of your requirements and a broad brush on the Who, What, Where and When, invest in developing a Power Budget - a tool that outlines the consumption of power by your most critical components in your IoT design.  (Note: Coursera has a nice overview in Lecture 22).  Armed with a Power Budget you can model expected usage patterns and determine the detailed requirements for powering your IoT device over its intended lifetime.Til next time.

How IoT is Improving the Food and Beverage Industry

What do the food industry and technology have in common? The Internet. Probably one of the most trafficked industries and our most useful technological tool have joined forces to make eating and drinking easier for the rest of us. Developments ranging from using IoT to make food processing smarter and increasing leverage in food manufacturing, to applications in restaurants and food service and finally improvements to food quality and  safety. The food and beverage industry took IoT to their advantage and are finding new ways to improve the market with new technology and innovative automation advances.

An Era of Benefits

Companies have found ways for IoT to manage the food industry in many different ways. The ability to track the ingredients of finished food products and monitor the  expiration dates faster and with more efficiency, our food has become safer to consume. These new innovative creations are particularly important for manufacturers and producers that need to keep track of products cost effectively; without increasing the price of the food to the end consumer.

IoT has found new ways to connect products with software to  make them easier to manage. With products like smart sensors, that are replacing paper used to manage continuous data on food production, manufacture, and transportation food waste has been significantly reduced. IoT can facilitate approaches that will better track ingredients that will lead to appropriate management of inventory and ingredients and hence improve the overall financial returns for the quarter.  

Not only will IoT benefit the food and beverage industry by increasing the quality of the product it can  also boost the manufacturers’ bottom-line  results. IoT contributions to the  speed and ease at which food is tracked and managed in the supply chain trickles down to better management, which in the end leads to better earnings and revenue. Since IoT technologies are relatively new, companies and manufactures that acquire them as early adopters will  have a big advantage over the competition. IoT is quickly creating a technological and economic advantage for those companies that leverage it in food and beverage industries.

A Variety of Products

IoT has made its way into restaurants and the hospitality industry, perfecting the management of small and local businesses in cities and urban communities. Consumers are already using IoT in everyday products, and like QR scanners and barcodes did in the past, IoT can be used to easily find product information or to speed up the checkout process. IoT has lead to new products and machinery like smart refrigerators with optical scanners that will inform owners when products are near expiration, pantries that will inform producers the correct amount of items for proper inventory, and temperature and humidity sensors that allow shippers to keep track of the proper environmental storage conditions of the food.

Do you have an IoT project you need help with? Bluefin Technology Partners helps companies build amazing connected solutions. We understand the complexity and collaboration required between organizational disciplines in order to deliver an IoT product to market on time and on budget.  We provide the services needed to assess your market, manage your partners, and shepherd your project through successful launch.