We have been working endlessly on solutions to better the user experience by improving accessibility, reducing hardware limits and developing a more flexible system to support other services. That is why we are releasing Prota Charles, the brand new version of Prota! One of its key features is giving you the possibility to turn your smartphone (perhaps, any smart device including tablets) into a smart hub. Let’s discover how!
Starting from simple facts…
Skyrocketing number of unused smartphones
We love smartphones and always wish to use the latest models. We use a smartphone for only two years on average. When we purchase a new smartphone, it is often to replace a perfectly working one for the most recent version of it. What about the old one? Well, it ends up in a drawer or is thrown away. With 1.5 billion smartphones in 2016 according to Gartner and even more in 2017, that leaves a very high number of useless phones.
Multiplication of smart hubs
The more IoT is growing, the more smart hubs there are, with little to no integration between them. Each brand develops its own smart hub that is required to use their smart devices, to the inconvenience of the users who need to purchase, configure, learn how to use and place the many hubs somewhere in the house. Using smart devices like MicroBot Push without a smart hub has been a steady request we receive from our users. And we’ve heard them.
…to a new solution: Prota Charles
So we’ve been working on both reusing what you have and limiting the number of smart hubs in the house and came up with this solution: Prota Charles.
What is Prota Charles? Prota Charles is the newest version of Prota which operates in the cloud. This means that you do not need anymore to buy a smart hub (Prota S or Prota Pi). Instead, Prota Charles enables you to turn a smartphone or tablet into a smart hub. Remember your old smartphone forgotten in the drawer or that you wanted to throw away? Now you can give him a second life thanks to Prota Charles! How? Simply download the app!
Prota Charles can be defined as a 3-part system that is based on the Edge technology.
- Prota in the cloud — the OS that allows you to control your MicroBots, connect smart devices and create automation workflows to build your smartphone.
- Relay Edge — an Android, iOS or Prota OS-powered device that is connected to the Internet. It can be a smartphone, a tablet, a Raspberry Pi or a Prota hub. Once the app is installed, your smartphone is turned into an Relay-Edge that acts as a go-between your MicroBots and Prota in the cloud. It connects to Prota Cloud using the Internet and connects to MicroBots via Bluetooth.
- Device Edge — a BLE smart device such as MicroBots. Device Edges are paired with a Relay Edge via Bluetooth connection. MicroBots can be paired with several Relay Edges. If you have several Relay Edges, they connect to the most stable one. For example, you’ve turned both your current and your old smartphones into Relay Edges. Your old smartphone always remains at home. When your current smartphone has a better connection and/or is closer to MicroBot Push than your old one, MicroBot Push will connect to your current smartphone. When you leave home and bring your phone with you, MicroBot Push will connect to your old smartphone.
What to expect?
- Ready-to-use system without configuration or required knowledge
With a physical smart hub, you first need to read the product’s notice to set it up and understand the meaning of icons or LED status. With this new version, getting started is as simple as registering for any web service: you only need an email address to create your Prota.
- Improved responsiveness
The connection between a Relay Edge and a Device Edge is always made using the Relay Edge which has the most stable and strong connection to the Internet. Besides, data is exchanged even when your phone (Relay Edge) is in sleep or locked screen mode. This system ensures that your MicroBot always stays online and improves its responsiveness.
- Remote control of MicroBots
You can now control your MicroBots from anywhere without having to buy a Prota S or Prota Pi like before. Simply make sure that your MicroBots are always connected to a Relay Edge that you keep at home — your former smartphone or a tablet for instance. You will then have two ways to remotely control your MicroBots: using either two devices or webhooks. Find out more here.
Which devices can become Edges?
- iOS/Android Edge
iPhones, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets can become Relay Edges. All you need to do is download the app and registering your device. Prota Charles Beta version for iOS is already available, find out more here. The Android version will be available soon. We will keep you updated!
- Prota Edge
Prota users will have to update their Prota S to the latest version. Besides, we will release in the first half of this year, a new hardware, Prota M, to be used as a Relay Edge for those who do not have a spare smartphone or tablet or do not use a iOS or Android device.
- Edge SDK
We will provide SDKs to enable other developers to get the benefits of Prota Charles. Using Edge SDK, they will only have to focus on their product development. The SDK will ensure the connection bewteen the device and Prota and provide integration points for IFTTT, Alexa, and so on. The SDK will come in two versions; one for the firmware development(NRF51xx and NRF52xx) and the other for the mobile app development (iOS and Android).
Prota Charles is currently available for testing. For more information, check our article ‘Looking for Beta testers: become the pioneer of Cloud-Connected MicroBot!’ or contact our Support team at support.thenaran.com. The official version will be released in a few months.
We hope you will enjoy all the features and benefits offered by Prota Charles. We will have many big news and projects to share in 2018, so stay tuned!