Over the years, IoT has left no stone unturned when it comes to the ability to connect numerous devices, equipment, and most commonly, “things.” However, one of the challenges preventing companies from adopting IoT technologies is how to deal with the complexity that connectivity brings.
Very is a full-service IoT application development company that delivers high-quality IoT applications by combining embedded technologies with best-in-class web practices, battle-tested security protocols, over-the-air firmware updates, and clean, extensible codebases.
Here’s what Tyler Jenks, Very’s co-founder and VP of Solutions Architecture had to say about the traction that his firm has gained by designing internet-connected devices and web applications to support them.
What IoT services do you provide, and what benefits can your clients expect from your services?
The primary thing in the IoT space is rapid prototyping and the subsequent deployment of the application. We are not a hardware manufacturing company; we specialize in building scalable web and data platforms that can be operationalized with IoT. So, we offer the firmware and hardware prototyping, the entire web backend, and then, we partner with external vendors to finalize schematics and design PCBs.
Can you shed some light on your client onboarding process?
Typically, when we begin working with a new client, whether it is IoT-related or not, we start with a release planning session. This involves collecting client documentation, which gives us more context about the solution the client needs to build. We also consider the client’s existing technologies and infrastructure, so we understand how the new application will fit into the broader ecosystem. The next step is to pull the relevant team members and other stakeholders into a video conference call and have a brainstorming session for a few hours to build understanding around what they’re trying to develop, how they’re trying to build, and how they’re going to market. We go through the process of capturing all the features and requirements and rank them by priority. Then, we come up with a product roadmap and work to arrive at a value-producing product or a prototype-stage proof of concept (POC) as quickly as possible.
How long does this process ideally take—from the first step to the prototypic stage?
It depends on the complexity of the project, but in general, we can take an application from the first stage to a prototype model in six to eight weeks.
Our top priorities are always toward ensuring that we deliver software continuously over time. That’s why we include things like over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates from the start
Our top priorities are always toward ensuring that we deliver software continuously over time. That’s why we include things like over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates from the start. If there are complicated systems to deal with, like industrial applications, then it could take four to six months for a prototype. So we operate within that range and concentrate on deploying rapidly within that timeframe always making sure that we can push firmware updates for hardware, which is something we consider to be core functionality.
What is the secret sauce behind your services, especially concerning IoT that makes you successful?
There are two factors; first is the fact that our IoT engineers have experience in both software and hardware development. Most of our developers have more than ten years of experience in building extremely scalable web platforms. When it comes to big data and IoT, it’s vital to have experienced professionals to be ready for the data stream that comes in. So we’re working and building scalable systems leveraging services such as AWS and Google Cloud.
Secondly, what’s unique in our process is rapid prototyping. We start writing the firmware on day one or two. We have enough prototyping expertise, and we choose technologies where we can get development boards in our hands without waiting for someone to design the real hardware. As soon as we get development boards in our hands, we start working on a breadboard with sensors, etc. on day one and by day two or three, we have our IoT devices talking to a server that’s in production already.
Of course, it’s not feature-complete, but it’s already there and talking, and then we can continue to improve that over time. Meanwhile, the hardware vendors ensure that power delivery is done appropriately and all the circuit boards are accurate. We can start with a prototype right away so that when the production device arrives, our firmware works on the very first day.
What are some milestones that you achieved in the last few months that you’d like to highlight?
From a technical perspective, we are getting recognition and massive traction in open-source communities. The framework that we leverage frequently is called Nerves, and it runs on the language called Elixir. The core Nerves development team has invited us to help make the product even better and we’ve been actively contributing to some of the Nerves projects recently.
On the business side, any consulting firm thrives on having the team that works on actual client projects and the ability to recruit top-tier talent, and this has been one of the many specialties that we have also built. There’s a demand for what we do, from startups all the way to large Fortune 500 companies.
What does the future hold for your organization? Any footprint expansion plans or platform enhancement strategies that you can shed light upon?
We’re going to continue our contributions to the Nerves ecosystem and improve OTA firmware updates. Also, we’re engrossed in finding ways to rapidly update firmware across projects and improving our in-house hardware expertise. We usually work with external vendors, but having that capability in-house if it’s needed is beneficial, so we’re looking to improve that capacity. On the technical roadmap, we will be staying up to date with the IoT trends to make sure we always choose the best platform for our customers.