INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT)

THE CHALLENGE

BLEacon hired AccelOne for the development of an Internet of Things (IoT) dashboard and administration panel. BLEacon created this platform, marketed towards individuals and businesses, to enable movement and activity tracking of things such as shopping carts, shoppers, employees, or products within digitally fenced environments like buildings, shopping malls, concert halls or retail stores.

An organization using this platform could place small, battery-operated Bluetooth Smart embedded modules, called Locators, in a physical (or fenced) area to monitor variables, such as movement, temperature activity types and behavior, emitted by assigned Bluetooth Low Energy embedded devices. These devices may include digital bracelets, collars or tags worn by humans or other labels or tags placed on moving objects within that area. Through wireless signals, real-time data on the movement, activity, and behavior of things acting within the fenced environment is emitted to base station computers.

The purpose of the dashboard and administration panel that BLEacon hired AccelOne to create was two-fold: the administration panel would allow the initial configuration and set up of the IoT environment while the dashboard would allow the data to be rendered in a single control panel. This panel would allow administrators to configure the devices remotely as well as monitor and visualize the data on either a macro or micro scale.

A variety of users and departments could access and interpret the data for application in many business operations, including security, marketing, VIP customer services, systems automation, and more.

There were three key goals of the project:

  1. Feature a clean, simple, UX/UI dashboard for micro and macro visualization of each devices’ status and the IoT system as a whole.
  2. Allow access by various users with different permission levels.
  3. Enable the administration of the IoT devices themselves, which would allow a user to configure and deploy the devices.

THE EXECUTION

The project was planned and managed using the Agile framework. We split the project into three iterations: startup, development, and closure, which were each divided into multiple Sprints to accomplish the deliverables of each iteration.

In order to execute the planned solution we put together the following team configuration:

  1. Architect & database designer
  2. Senior front end and back end developers
  3. AWS certified architect
  4. UX/UI specialist​

Once the team was assembled, we had to do extensive research to understand the purpose of each type of available Bluetooth and Wifi hardware device and all of their parameters so that we could make them compatible with our solution.

We also had to build an internal simulator to provide our product with real-time data under different variables and conditions, so that we could test the functionality of our product in the absence of an actual IoT network.

Finally, to conclude the project, we built a separate testing interface to validate that the dashboard was fully functional through the application program interface (API).

THE RESULTS

The most complex technical challenge of this project was creating an organized and simple visualization of the incredibly large amount of data that was coming in from real-time events on the devices.

Our final product allowed for the widgets to be moved, sorted, grouped by types, minimized, maximized, etc., for the convenience of each user. Additionally, we created real-time graphs, which were automatically rendered and scaled in a relationship with many parameters such as time, date, location, etc.

The end result for the customer was a very technologically advanced, cloud-based product with a very clean and easy-to-use interface and flexible applications. This MVP version is currently on the market for licensing and in-use by many major organizations.

CN QUALITY ASSURANCE ANALYSIS

THE CHALLENGE

As a part of its expanded media offerings, Turner Broadcasting Argentina launched an Android mobile application for its subsidiary company, the Cartoon Network. This app, called the CN Watch & Play, featured a split-screen display that allowed users to watch CN episodes and play games directly from an Android phone or tablet. The games, which were displayed on half the screen, used Flash technology, while the video streaming feature, located on the other half of the screen, was a proprietary technology of Turner Broadcasting. The unique interface allowed the user of the application to rotate through the games and videos simultaneously at the same time.

The application was developed by a company called Red Lima and Turner, and they were seeking a third party to provide quality assurance services for the app to check for errors and quality issues prior to deployment.

Turner tasked AccelOne with the challenge of developing a complete testing solution for functional testing of their video player and games interface. This was to include a complete QA plan, test suite (test cases), and platform for bug tracking on their mobile app.

THE SOLUTION

AccelOne’s QA solutions team used information gathered from the client to define and build the tools needed for the full QA of the app’s player game components, which included issue tracking, testing cases, project management, and reporting.

​Keeping in mind that performing the QA activities in a collaborative environment, both with the developers and the client, was a top priority. The following software platforms were selected:

  1. DropBox: To store and exchange files
  2. RedMine: For bug tracking (Required by Red Lima developers)
  3. JIRA: For test case management
  4. Skype and emails: For communication

The project was planned around the utilization of agile methodology, following scrum practices, and short two-week sprints.

THE EXECUTION

Based on the information provided by Turner Broadcasting, meetings with Red Lima, and our experience in QA of mobile applications, we formulated the following team:

  1. Senior QA Analyst

    A. Analyzed the functional requirements
    B. Developed the test cases
    C. Executed the test cases
    D. Created reports with the test results
    E. Managed the JIRA platform
    F. Communicated with the customer

  2. Semi-Senior Testers

    A. Performed testing cases
    B. Created reports

The project began after the kick-off meeting, and the initial sprints were uneventful. However, shortly after the project started, it was discovered that the player component that was built for video streaming was not functional. In order to assist the development team with the repair of the player, AccelOne provided complete diagnostics and detailed reporting of the player’s performance under different conditions.

While the repair of the player was in progress, AccelOne shifted its focus to QA of the gaming interface within the app, in order to prevent significant delays in the project from the QA end.

​As the new versions were deployed with the fixes identified by the QA process, AccelOne continued to support the customer with continued QA procedures after each deployment. Finally, when there were no more critical or blocker issues identified by our team and the majority of minor bugs resolved, CN released the live version of the application to the general market.

All testing was performed on devices from AccelOne’s device library, covering the screen formats and hardware specifications defined by the customer. No emulators were used.

The project was completed and the application was deployed according to the written plan, baring delays due to unexpected bugs.

THE RESULTS

AccelOne’s direction and coordination with Turner and Red Lima to maintain the project within test-driven development practices resulted in the following:

  1. Turner’s expectations for the quality of the QA deployment were exceeded.
  2. Critical issues with Turner’s proprietary player were identified and corrected as a result of AccelOne’s detailed diagnostics and reporting.
  3. AccelOne provided complete reports of the app one day after each new version was published, which allowed the developer to have timely responses in the corrections of the issues and accelerated the entire cycle of development.

GLOUD | TURNER BROADCASTING QA

PROJECT SUMMARY

As an effort to expand into the gaming world, Turner Broadcasting, a multinational media corporation, developed GLOUD, a state-of-the-art, gaming streaming service. Turner contracted AccelOne to perform complete quality assurance analysis for the client application to ensure that the product was performing optimally for their product launch. After a successful project initiation, Turner further extended the contract, asking AccelOne to perform QA analysis for the website as well.

THE DIFFERENTIATOR

GLOUD, Games in the Cloud, is a one-of-a-kind online platform that provides instant access to over 50 video games with a monthly subscription. Upon its initial launch, it is available to audiences in Argentina and Chile, with plans to expand further in the future. GLOUD enables gamers to access numerous top-rated video games for only a small monthly fee. Instead of investing in a new console or computer, all that is needed is an internet connection. GLOUD uses only 20Mb (mega bauds per second) from the internet and does not require a big processor or a long installation process because all the game graphics are rendered in servers and delivered as a video streaming in real-time. Additionally, the wide variety of games available in the catalog continues to grow, giving each gamer access to new and diverse games. For more information about GLOUD, check out Turner’s PR report.

THE CHALLENGE

Turner asked AccelOne to conduct a complete suite of quality assurance analysis testing for GLOUD. Using black box and performance testing, we thoroughly tested the client app, including every video game and the website. At times, Turner asked AccelOne to test games in only a few hours before a rapid launch. Each time, AccelOne delivered, preparing the product fully, even in the limited time.

THE SOLUTION

As attention to detail was of great importance, AccelOne’s QA team formed an extensive plan for testing GLOUD before beginning. For the client app, the team used a lengthy checklist to test each individual game manually in Windows and Mac to ensure every bug was identified. For the website, the team performed test cases, cross-browser and mobile responsive testing.

Clear and constant communication between the customer, the developers, and our QA specialists was our priority. Thus, we used two platforms for organization and accountability purposes.

  1. Zendesk: A bug tractor platform—for registering bugs in the client app and notifying developers.
  2. JIRA: A test case management tool—for managing tasks, reporting findings, logging hours, and communicating with developers.

THE EXECUTION

For the project, AccelOne formed a team consisting of a senior QA analyst and three QA testers. The senior QA analyst served as the project leader, supervising the project, managing the timeline, and communicating with Turner. The three QA testers executed the checklist testing, examined test cases, registered all bugs, and notified the developers. After the team was formed, the extensive testing process began. First, each video game in the client application was tested according to the checklist below.​​

  • Wording — titles, descriptions, and buttons
  • Language — languages, translator and captions
  • Executing Game — works from catalog and search box
  • Loading Time — around 10 seconds, 20 seconds maximum
  • Navigation — mouse, keyboard, and joystick work for all
  • Audio — no interruptions and noise level works proportionally
  • Fluidity — no stops and starts
  • Menu Overlay — all functions work, key shows which buttons correlate to which functions, and navigation mechanism works
  • Playability — no lag and easy to play
  • Multiplayer — all functions work with multiple players
  • Saving Game — game saves and returns to the same place
  • Exiting — no problems quitting the game
  • Related Content — similar game suggestions appear upon exiting the game
  • Branding — GLOUD brand only
  • + More

Once a bug was discovered, the QA tester registered it in Zendesk and notified the developers, then after the developers fixed the bug, testing was repeated. This cycle was performed countless times by our QA team to ensure the product was bug-free.

The testing process for the website was very similar. Test cases were designed and executed by the team. The evidence from each, including all bugs, was registered on JIRA and was used to fix and improve the website. The same cycle of running tests, finding bugs, fixing bugs, and repeating the tests was used for website testing.

Many bugs were identified throughout the testing process. The most frequent bugs found in the client application were problems starting the video games, saving the games, and loading time issues. With the website, the biggest problem was the integration with the payment solution. AccelOne addressed all of these issues appropriately, freeing GLOUD of these setbacks.

The entire time, AccelOne maintained constant communication with the customer and the developers. Every day, our QA team had a morning meeting with the developers to discuss current challenges, review the prior day’s work, and go over the current day’s plan. Additionally, AccelOne sent detailed monthly reports to Turner, updating them on the progress. The reports included evidence of the findings and information about time spent on each task.

THE RESULTS

The project began in August 2017 with testing the client app. In April 2018, the app was launched to audiences in Argentina and Chile. Since then, GLOUD has offered free one month trials to interested customers. In April, Turner asked AccelOne to provide quality assurance services for the website, which will be launched in July 2018. Following the launch, AccelOne will provide continued support and testing. As new features are developed, such as incorporating personal profiles and parental content controls, AccelOne will perform QA services for them before they launch. Overall, Turner has been very pleased with AccelOne’s communication, transparency, and efficiency. Our specialists’ detailed testing identified many serious bugs and spearheaded the deployment of GLOUD, free of critical issues.

SOUSZEN FOOD SERVICE AUTOMATION PLATFORM

THE BUSINESS PROBLEM & REQUIREMENT

What if restaurants and food service operators could gather data during food preparation and gain insights on how to constantly improve the quality, taste, and safety of the food they serve – all while reducing costs along the way? With funding by a large American multinational food, snack, and beverage company (SousZen’s first customer), and direction from its innovation partner Xinova, SousZen set out to develop an application that could deliver such a promise, and hired AccelOne to build and test the solution. The solution required the digitization of input variables and the connection of kitchens across a broad global kitchen network that would gather the insights necessary to make recommendations and improvements. Crowdsourced data gathered between kitchen operators would also provide performance insights on successful practices realized in certain locations, which could benefit other kitchen operators through information exchange between kitchens.

THE TECHNICAL SOLUTION

The AccelOne technical team leads traveled to Mexico to meet with the food and beverage company’s Mexican (MX) team, get feedback, and gather product definitions and application designs from the design studio hired by SousZen to bring the idea into view.

The main challenges were providing good user experience (which is key in a kitchen environment, given its dynamic nature), and allowing the kitchen to maintain its own procedures as much as possible. This goal was essential for gathering meaningful and correct data.

AccelOne took the following steps:

  • Define the data components:
    • Create an “ingredients” database
    • Define the data units and equivalencies between units, including ingredients volumetric density and other properties
    • Implement geolocation, which allowed locations to be displayed on a map and for the platform to be able to analyze restaurant locations’ activity on a regional, state, and city level
  • Select a solid, proven cloud platform to support the application infrastructure: Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Choose a simple, easy-to-maintain user interface framework that would be supported over a long period of time for the front end web application: Reactjs + Redux
  • Choose a back-end API that could handle the volume of concurrent network connections necessary to run the application effectively: Nodejs and Express
  • Expose a REST API to integrate the solution with other systems

AccelOne’s team was composed of the following five technical roles:

  • 2 Full Stack Engineers
  • 1 Technical Program Manager (TPM)
  • 1 Software Architect
  • 1 Senior Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst

PROJECT DELIVERY

The project was kicked off and iterated with SousZen management, a UX design agency, and the food and beverage customer’s MX team. Scrum methodology plus weekly sprints and demos were employed. During these sessions, all stakeholders provided feedback, which was reflected in the next sprint.

The combination of input from AccelOne’s software architect and lead engineers resulted in a clean solution architecture for the application infrastructure, which enabled rapid programming of the solution to meet the client’s deadline for deployment. Modern communication and project management (PM) tools like GitHub, Slack, Zoom and Youtrack were used during delivery in order to keep the real-time team communication frequency high.

During the delivery process, the team discovered several opportunities to create new pieces and features to add to the platform build in order to enhance the platform’s user experience.

Version 1 of the product was delivered with the following components:

  1. Manager: This is the application piece that the restaurant and food service venue owners and operators work with to input the platform with all the kitchen activity, at menu and ingredient level. This app also provides information like ingredient use rates, sales, margin, and costs (per time and per menu), among many other features.
  2. Advisor: This component provided a dashboard and administration interphase for the customer so that they could monitor a location’s kitchen activities at menu and ingredient levels, as well as visualize the data collected from different locations.
  3. Order Mobile App: This is a compliment to the manager app that enables users to input sales into a mobile app with a simple UI.

One critical consideration in the development of this platform application was that it had to meet and match the customer’s particular food ingredients, as well as many localization details, while keeping within the scope of SousZen’s desire to create an application that would work easily and effectively for any restaurant brand or food service operator in the world.

THE OUTCOME

The food and beverage company that provided funding implemented the solution within a pilot program involving a select group of gourmet nacho stands and food trucks, and then began monitoring their activities while helping them work within the new approach of documenting food service prep and processes in-kitchen. This helped make the new approach easy and standard moving forward. This process replaced many paper-based documentation and data-gathering tasks. It also removed the manual annotations of orders for the chefs, as well as other administrative manual procedures, replacing them with a digital domain solution that now gives restaurant and food service business owners more information about what happens in their kitchens. This helps them improve their menu offerings, food safety, and profits while giving the customer insights that will improve their over-the-counter food products and the marketing strategies that drive snack sales (a key driver of the food and beverage company’s sales globally)



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Trusted and Appreciated

The combination of input from AccelOne’s software architect and lead engineers resulted in a clean solution architecture for the application infrastructure.