It’s all coming together. Even though we had planned to launch this summer we are more than happy with how things are moving along. In the past couple months our team has been doing a lot of designing. Design comes in a lot of different forms and this is something that our team takes great care in. It is a critical piece of a successful startup & something to take seriously.
When we say that design comes in a lot of forms we are talking about product and service design.
On the product side of design…
that means how the product is designed with its functionality and features. This includes the design of the actual product (PCB & Casing) and everything that represents it (Logo, Website and overall brand). Our product appearance is designed to represent our startup and brand. We are a waste focused startup and it is a great part of our values within our company culture. If you want to end the waste crisis, why add to it? Below is a picture of our final product design. It is simple yet functional and does not waste plastic with unnecessary curves or features to make it look “cool”. The colour of the casing is also representative of our brand and image. A clean green so that customers can feel great about putting something eco-friendly into their waste bins and keep in mind its purpose.
On the service side of design..
we need to think about how our product will be used. We need to think about how it will communicate with the backend servers and frontend analytics platform (critical for scaling an IOT company). We also consider how our customers will use it (use case). For example, in this process we always considered the customer onboarding process for our product. Who will do the installation? How/Who will we manage the alerting systems? How will we design our system to be manageable from a central system? Is it scalable? Is it scalable? (<That’s how important scalability is, you have to ask twice.)
This goes much deeper — you can imagine when designing a product for a brand new/emerging industry all that could go wrong.
If you think about the problems that you could face after deploying sensors for a single customer and write out a story of how the process would go from initial email to deployment you can begin to understand some challenges you might face. For example, our sensors need to wake up at specific times dependant on each customer’s needs. When designing this service based system, we asked ourselves what would be the best way to manage it? We designed our analytics platform to handle device scheduling right on the frontend. Each customer can determine the schedule of their sensors wake cycle and update it accordingly. If you need your sensors to wake up every 3 hours from Monday to Friday this can be done on our front end and then our backend system automatically updates it on the hardware level.
When it comes to IOT solutions scalability has always been the barrier.
We had to consider scalability a lot. When deciding which communication protocols to use we decided to go with GSM. You might be thinking that cellular sounds expensive, but we are specifically using CatM1/NBIOT & 2G. The first two are designed and developed for IOT solutions and they are not your standard cell phone connectivity types. These are Low Power Wide Area networks that are specifically designed for IOT. We can dive deep on why we choose these two methods over others (LoRa, SigFox, Wifi & BLE) but that is for another article and requires a lot of explanation.
2G is the third method in which we connect and it is the FALL BACK.
This means that if CatM1/NBIOT were to both fail in connection then we would almost be 100% sure that we would obtain a connection with 2G. Even though 2G requires more power, we use it as a PLAN C to make sure we connect to the network every time. This is also a big part of our design for scalability and allows us to control our sensors from a centralized system (Our HQ). This way we can conduct FOTA (firmware updates over the air), change device scheduling, change customer credentials etc.
The Global Sim — Soracom
Soracom is a Japanese company that gives us connectivity (roaming) in 146+ countries and growing! The price for this service will surprise you and allows Lidbot to scale to these countries without the need to manage multiple contracts with multiple telecommunication companies. We can stick this global sim in Lidbot and ship the sensor to any of their supported countries and be instantly connected. This is a dream come true for IOT companies and allows us to focus more on our solution and less on contracts with telecommunication companies.
This does not mean that every Lidbot will have a Soracom sim. In some cases like the US we are partnering up with a telecommunication company that will sell Lidbot sensors through their sales agents.
Two thousand sales reps in the United Stated from a major telecommunications company will sell Lidbot as one of their IOT solutions.
Unfortunately we cannot make the official annoucement of which company it is — but juicy enough to get excited for. These sales reps have customers already asking for Lidbot and we are very excited to have them as part of our journey. We will use their services for CatM1 & NBIOT and they have coverage across the entire US. Both Soracom and this company are also critical to providing scaling solutions to our customers.
A new website is brewing…
As we prepare for our official launch we are also designing a brand new website. Our design team is hard at work preparing the new website and all of its content. This is also a critical piece of our product design because we want our website visitors to understand completely what we do and how we do it. We have been very lucky to have a lot of organic incoming requests from customers and we want to continuously improve that conversion rate and create a website where visitors can see it all! Keep your eye out for the website on our official launch and let us know what you think.
Let’s talk about some dates..
We hope to finish our injection mould casing by early December and send off the final product for certifications. We will be initially certifying our product for Taiwan, Canada and the United states. Then we would be at the finish line and ready to do our official launch in January 2020. We are very excited for this date and will do a large social media push to let everyone know. If you are not already — follow us on twitter and look out for the news.
As always — we look forward to the future!