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Blog Post

Developing for IOT is bloody hard and supporting it can be harder!

Jerome O'Flaherty – Chief Architect
February 01, 2019
Developing for IOT is bloody hard  and supporting it can be harder! at Sweepr

It's difficult to develop support for something that is unknown and the home of the future will have many unknowns for devices manufacturers and service providers. Sweepr provides an out of the box future proofed solution for technical support issues within the home with easy to use frameworks and SDK’s, built specifically for Voice Assistants and IOS and Android Applications.

WE DEVELOPERS HAVE HAD IT FAR TO EASY FOR FAR TOO LONG!

We work in a set of safe ‘known’ environments, typically the Browser (or mobile OS ) which provides a stable client environment connecting to a cloud hosted backend (AWS, Azure, Heroku) which provides a stable scalable backend environment.

This has been a boom for developers and organisations building services & software and has meant that any post sales support issues are simple enough to fix. Dev ops teams have gotten into the habit of thinking if there is a problem post roll out, they will simple patch the problem, sometimes before any of their customers notice that they a problem.

WILL OUR IOT DEVICE BE THE SAME?

So we will just do the same thing with our IOT devices, right ? Wrong !

Within the mixed up environment that is the ‘connected home’, there are many, many more edge cases, in fact there are at least 5 different contextual areas within the home that are variable and the interactions between these areas cause big problems for detecting and solving any issues within the home:

  1. Device(s) (with different firmware versions)
  2. Network (with sometimes very legacy routers)
  3. Services involved (with complication of latency and bandwidth as well as possible available of open firewall ports)
  4. Voice agent (with compatibility complications, e.g. which devices and services work with which agents)
  5. Human (where the human might be non-technical but have a significant technical issue which they can’t describe)

NOW WE HAVE TO SUPPORT IT

So, within this environment the detection of the correct problem and the application of the correct solution is a significant challenge to any developer and operations support team.

Almost every remote home environment is different and has unique properties. Each home owner is different and has different skills and technical knowledge.

These restrictions are the reason that today most companies build support models that require the home owner to report their problem by ringing a call centre. Customer don’t like doing this and technical support problems are difficult to both diagnose and resolve quickly…..So that makes then very expensive too!

CONTEXT IS KING

Without some in-home context, a care agent is mostly ‘flying’ blind and will struggle to help the consumer beyond the usual “turn it off / turn it on again” or “well will send you out a replacement”.

Context is key and having a holistic view of the home environment is vital to providing that context. We need to know what is happening on the home network, clarify what the customer is seeing / experiencing.

With the right contextual information we can build autonomous solutions (changing settings, re-configuring devices) or semi-automonous (user guidance). This is what we do in Sweepr.

This type of high quality technical support for the home will significant reduce the support costs while also increasing the consumer satisfactions. This is the world which Sweepr aims to create.