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.

AUDIO SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

THE CHALLENGE

AccelOne was tasked with the development of a custom audio software application that enables the virtual configuration of high-end audio equipment from both web and mobile devices, including:

  • A desktop application that connects via USB to target hardware equipment
  • Custom firmware for audio equipment
  • A Bluetooth-enabled mobile application for wireless control of hardware equipment

THE OUTCOME

The Bluetooth-based mobile application was the first of its kind on the market. The overall product has not only been a success for the client, but a breakthrough for the industry.

Our client is an award-winning industry leader in the development of sophisticated consumer audio equipment technology. As a part of developing a new line of audio products, the client wanted to incorporate a unique dashboard-based, cross-platform application, which would allow virtual device configuration from a desktop computer and mobile device. This dashboard, which is the first of it’s kind, would work exclusively with their product line and have an added capability of wireless configuration via Bluetooth technology.

In order to make this vision a reality, AccelOne was hired to provide remote staff augmentation resources in the highly specialized areas of electrical and software engineering. Our resources would be assigned to exclusively build the software platform as well as perform as an integrated member of the client’s existing electrical engineering team.

THE EXECUTION

Using the Agile framework, we broke this project down into two phases, each with three iterations: 1) design, 2) development, and 3) user acceptance testing (UAT). Phase 1 would result in the final completed desktop application for Windows, and Phase 2 would result in the mobile application for iOS and Android, based in Unity.

We configured a team of two senior-level developers to work on this project, which included a Senior Audio Engineer & Software Developer and a Senior Unity 3D Developer.

With the team in place, we exposed all of the hardware parameters for each of the devices in order to understand their nuances. Then we gathered all user stories and requirements from the project stakeholders and researched other similar applications to find proven concepts and technologies to apply to this project in order to maximize our efficiency and minimize the budget.

The first phase of the application, which was completed in three months, was built under C# .NET to run on Windows OS and connect to the target hardware, such as an amplifier, via a USB cable. The communication between the hardware, which contains a powerful 32-bit microcontroller from Texas Instruments, and the Windows application, was accomplished by creating a custom piece of firmware from scratch using C language. Once completed, the entire application system allowed for the configuration of the controller from the Windows application, which was created from a UX-first approach and easy for the user to adopt.

Once the initial phase was delivered, tested, and accepted, the second phase of the project was initiated. This phase of the project was also written with C# language but using a different platform: Unity 5.0. This framework allowed us to quickly and easily build software that runs on the most popular environments, such as Apple’s iOS, Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Android, etc. This portion of the project involved developing a very unique, groundbreaking feature in the consumer audio market — enabling Bluetooth communication to an amplifier. We decided to use this method after several discussions with the client about the best protocol to communicate the amplifier using a mobile device and discovering that the best method would be Bluetooth. However, no such solution currently exists in the market. So, we accepted the challenge of selecting the optimal Bluetooth LE (low energy) hardware for this purpose, and writing the code from scratch, for both the mobile application and the amplifier itself.

THE RESULTS

The greatest challenge that our team faced on this project was creating a sleek, simple, user-friendly application that could manage the highly complex and sophisticated logics that would be transmitted to and from the client’s devices. Additionally, the information had to be communicated through USB and wirelessly via Bluetooth and stored in the device’s memory.

The delivery of both phases of the application was successful, as they were completed on-time, within budget, and accomplished all of the performance requirements.

The application is now available on the market with the customer’s current product line using a USB wire connection. The additional Bluetooth features will soon be released in early 2017.

The ability for users to virtually configure their devices has made a very positive impact on the business for the client, giving them a clear competitive edge in their market, making this project a positive return on investment for their company.

Finally, the highly anticipated release of the Bluetooth functionality to the consumer audio market will solidify this project’s success not just for our client, but for the industry.

XAPO CRYPTOCURRENCY SOLUTION

COMPANY SUMMARY

Xapo is a Cryptocurrency / Fintech company known for being the world’s most secure crypto bank and the single largest custodian of Bitcoin. The company was founded by Wences Casares, one of the most famous entrepreneurs from South America. Casares is a serial entrepreneur who has started multiple financial software companies, resulting in several successful and profitable exits which approach $1 billion. His latest entrepreneurial pursuit was creating Xapo, which is believed to hold as much as $10 billion of the cryptocurrency and has the backing of some of the most influential entrepreneurs in America.

THE DIFFERENTIATOR

AccelOne architected, developed, and delivered the core reconciliation engine for Xapo’s main transactions platform which integrates all of the banking and cryptocurrency platforms required to effectively execute Xapo transactions. AccelOne competed against many other software development vendors for the privilege to create Xapo’s groundbreaking core system, winning the contract.

THE CHALLENGE

The competition for the contract was a two-week long assessment process against other outsource software development vendors. Senior and select members of the AccelOne team attended daily meetings at the Xapo offices to receive instructions and explanations of what Xapo needed. The AccelOne team was asked to present a recommended software architecture, software team configuration, and estimate for the number of work hours needed to build Xapo’s platform.

Additionally, the new platform had to incorporate Xapo’s new business model directive. Their goal was to deliver crypto transactions to serve as the future enabler for transactions between buyers and sellers of all kinds, not exclusively for Bitcoin. They also wanted a quick and easy-to-use platform to attract consumers beyond the early adopters. In order for this to be possible, the platform would have to enable integrations to other financial services and institutions. Ultimately, the software platform would become the hub of all of Xapo’s future transactions, becoming the first of its kind worldwide.

A further challenge was that the prior platform was constructed largely by human operators at Xapo using internal proprietary tools. The entire project presented many challenges for the AccelOne team who hoped their recommendations would impress Xapo’s senior engineers.

After reviewing the various vendor recommendations, Xapo selected AccelOne as the chosen outsource vendor to deliver their platform.

THE EXECUTION

The first step was to onboard the AccelOne team and introduce us to Xapo’s teams and worldwide project stakeholders. AccelOne was then familiarized with the practices and tools used by the rest of the developers, operators, and administrators across the company.

Our team was integrated by a senior solution architect and two senior enterprise-level Python developers into tech stacks that Xapo used which included:

  • Python 3.6 with the light Flask framework
  • REST full API to expose process information: Flask Restful plugin
  • APS Scheduler Python library used for transactions processing and as a foundation for a decoupled transaction processing engine
  • React.js + Redux for the front end

The system that our team worked on was integrated with the proprietary admin tool of Xapo (Buy Manager) and with a group of Cryptocurrencies Exchanges through the use of their APIs.

There are three main environments which host the system:

  1. Development (on the developer’s workstations)
  2. Staging (for Xapo stakeholders evaluations)
  3. Production (for the final release product)

Everything runs in Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure and two main services are used among others:

  1. S3 to store digital assets, all stored data needs to be heavily encrypted
  2. ECS to run the Docker containers with the app

The main challenge of the execution was to organize all the stakeholders from different areas of Xapo and our team to avoid project blockers and to allow a smooth and accurate process integration with the rest of the customer systems.

Before beginning development, a prototype of the process was created to define the logic, rules, parameters, and to simulate possible scenarios. Once the prototype was approved, all the related framework and middleware was created. Lastly, the integrations were analyzed and we designed a data-driven model to empower a multisource architecture. The transaction processing engine was designed to be a multisource data loader, parser, and interpreter. With extensibility in mind, we integrated Xapo systems, payment networks, and exchanges in a modular way — allowing new sources with different levels of initial capabilities going from simple value range and similarity matching to more complex rules.

​During the entire project duration, Scrum framework was used to assign tasks and keep track progress, milestones, deadlines, and blockers. Orchestration of the interaction with all the rest of Xapo’s resources was key to the success of the project, including constant communication with Xapo’s CTO.

THE RESULTS

The project was delivered, tested, and deployed on time and within the planned budget. Based on the results of the reconciliation core business project, Xapo decided to continue working with AccelOne’s project team, and also began a long-term engagement extending AccelOne’s resources on a staff augmentation basis.