Opening the Door to the Connected Home

By Dominick Sorrentino June 25, 2015

As companies scramble to blaze trails in the IoT space, consumers have a lot to look forward to, especially in the area of the connected home: smart thermostats, intelligent refrigerators, remotely accessible garage doors, light bulbs, security cameras, appliances, and much more. But before any one product can become the life of the IoT house party, enterprises need to figure out how to get all these services in the door, how to make them feature rich, and how to keep unwanted stragglers from sneaking in.

LogMeIn, developer of a cloud-based IoT platform called Xively, and exhibitors of the recent Cloud Expo NYC, takes a three-pronged approach to this problem: Connect, Manage, and Engage.

The connect part is fairly straightforward: Xively provides a cloud-based platform that allows manufacturers of connected products to deliver connectivity to its consumers (business-to-business to-consumer, or a business-to-business-to-business). But the process gets a bit more complicated in ensuring consumers receive quality of service they desire from their connected devices, and that it happens securely. This is where Xively’s “Manage” and forthcoming “Engage” elements come into play.

Take the example of a garage door manufacturer.

“When the garage door company creates that garage door, and they want to connect it to Xively, we provide the connectivity, that fast message bus,” Sean Lorenz, Director of IoT Market Strategy, Xively told TMC at Cloud Expo NYC. “But then we also have Xively Blueprint, which says, ‘check that this is the product and the user who has access for these permissions’. . . And then let’s say mom comes to visit; you can have her download the app too, and you can sign in and authenticate her.”

This flexible access management and identity authentication can apply to nearly any connected product. It also provides businesses on Xively’s platform with the opportunity to gather data regarding how their devices are being used—a win-win for manufacturer and consumer.

Enter the forthcoming “Engage” element.

“Let’s say that the garage door manufacturer wants to now have the data from Xively piped into Salesforce or their SAP instance to send a replacement part for that garage door, or a Salesforce record that lets companies know who their customers are,” Lorenz said. “All that data will start to live and breathe through Xively to check in and get record information.”

This means, for example, that a product management team will soon be able to analyze how many devices are coming online, which features are in use, and which are extraneous. This will provide developers with agile software development, which can significantly expedite a product’s journey to completeness.  

What’s more, LogMeIn also has developed a solution called Rescue Lens. This app makes it possible for customers to use their phone to remotely and automatically access support through multimedia methods—voice, video, image capture—in real-time. Xively intends to bring this customer support tool into the IoT space.

According to Lorenz, if an issue arises with a connected device the consumer can either use the app to notify the company that there is an issue, or better yet, because the product has sensors on it, the issue can be detected automatically.

“This creates a ticket, and a customer service rep (at the manufacturer) can click on it” Lorenz said. “They have an instant chat right there with the customer . . . this allows for real-time responses to issues, whether caused by user error, or through a problem with the product.” 

Just as perpetual connectivity should, in theory—and soon in practice—let companies know how their products are being used, it should also allow them to more immediately provide assistance when something goes wrong.

This final “Engage” portion is still baking, and will be in beta by the end of this year. More details may be unveiled at the company’s “Xperience” IoT event taking place in Boston in October. 

IoT platforms still have some loose ends to tie up, but so far, Xively seems to have a fairly clear roadmap to the connected home.

They’ve shown us the door. Now we just have to walk through it. 

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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