Baby care IoT: R&D and system architecture

Itransition delivered an IoT system architecture, algorithms for developing custom components, a ready-to-implement product roadmap, hardware architecture specifications and working prototypes of custom devices for Summer Infant.

Challenge

Customer

Since 1985, Summer Infant has been producing high-quality, safe feeding, bedding, bath, and travel gears for parents and their babies. Committed to improvement and innovation, the company continuously evolves its product line, adopting the emerging trends and technologies.

Smartification Of Infant Products

With the new opportunities that the internet of things offered, the company fostered the idea of augmenting their products with smart connectivity and tracking features. The project goal was to create an autonomous baby care ecosystem that links up baby products with embedded sensors, local monitors, smartphones, PCs, and analytical software for better awareness of babies’ health through triggered notifications and real-time biometrics tracking.

Correspondingly, the project scope comprised:

  1. IoT system architecture and design of component interaction
  2. Engineering and production of smart sensors
  3. Development of the firmware logic and its integration with hardware modules
  4. Web backend and mobile applications development.

Vendor Selection

Because of its complexity, this IoT project involved four geographically distributed vendors, each one assigned with a particular task. Following the positive reference from one of our industry partners, who had cooperated with us on a smart baby monitor with Itransition, the customer selected us for the research, development, and further technological guidance on the project.

Solution

Spanning the hardware, firmware, middleware, and software, the Summer Infant ecosystem included four essential layers:

Summer Infant ecosystem

The Tasks Delegated to Itransition

  • Collection and elaboration of the customer’s requirements
  • R&D and IoT system architecture
  • Software and hardware prototyping
  • Supervision of software and hardware production

Research & Development

Itransition’s team took up the end-to-end IoT development, including software and hardware design, elaboration of interaction scenarios, technology roadmapping, scope definition, and project planning.

From an array of existing IoT platforms, Itransition had to choose the most suitable one or design a custom solution that would seamlessly connect miscellaneous endpoints while providing a solid ground for solving the following challenges:

  1. Connecting disparate devices from different manufacturers and configuring them for a smooth setup.
  2. Transferring and processing data of different sizes, from full HD video streams to irregular low-rate sensor data.
  3. Maintaining the wireless infrastructure, enabling backhaul mesh among wireless routers and network self-healing.
  4. Ensuring uninterrupted operation in all possible configurations, with the infrastructure working steadily even if some components are disabled.
  5. Enabling remote access to the system, where system administrators can access and manage the baby care network from devices outside the infrastructure.
  6. Guaranteeing secure over-the-air updates with backward compatibility, as well as automated firmware and software updates while preserving custom user settings.

Our team investigated and compared device management, integration and security aspects of existing connectivity solutions.

Besides, we outlined the pros and cons of two data transfer options: direct communication of all devices with a cloud-based backend or communication via specific transmitters.

Besides, we outlined the pros and cons of two data transfer options: direct communication of all devices with a cloud-based backend or communication via specific transmitters.

Delivering Prototypes

While cooperating with an Israeli firmware developer and a Chinese hardware manufacturer, we engineered two operational prototypes of smart infant products managed through an Android application. While the offshore partners produced the physical prototypes, Itransition’s experts developed the control panel for managing smart components via the mobile app.

Smart Changing Pad Smart Bottle Maker

With embedded load cells, the Changing Pads device measures the baby’s weight and height while a diaper is changed, helping parents track real-time metrics on their smartphones.

An unparalleled gadget for preparing baby formula, Smart Bottle Maker consists of a water pump, a warmer, 6 bottles and an electric motor that activates the system according to the pre-defined schedule.

Code-level Services

Besides the all-round advisory assistance, Itransition was involved in the backend development based on AngularJS, as well in the code review of a video streaming application for the custom Android-based tablet called Dedicated Display. Coupled with a connected camera, Dedicated Display was produced by a Taiwanese team for real-time baby monitoring.

Deliverables from Itransition

End-to-end IoT system architecture

Algorithms for custom components development

Ready-to-implement product roadmap

Hardware architecture specifications

Operational prototypes of customs devices

Process

Multivendor Distributed Team

While providing strategic guidance on the project, Itransition cooperated with software and hardware manufacturing vendors located in different parts of the world. We applied agile practices within the distributed Scrum framework, which allowed all teams to be on the same page with no ambiguity, share the common infrastructure, and arrange processes efficiently without any downtimes.

Cooperation Map
Cooperation Map

Core Technologies

  iOS Android Backend

HTTP Communication

AFNetworking

Retrofit and OkHttp

OData; .NET MVC

Message Queues

RabbitMQ-c/MQTT-Client Framework

RabbitMQ Client/Android-MQTT

RabbitMQ broker

Languages

Swift, ObjC

Java

JavaScript; C#

Charts Visualization

Daniel Gindin Charts

MPAndroidChart

 

Database

Realm

Realm

Microsoft SQL Server

IoT System Architecture

We selected a decentralized mesh network as an optimal solution to enable custom sensor-powered and handheld devices to communicate wirelessly so that they wouldn’t depend on the PCs or hub services in use.

Solution Architecture

For high availability and protection against failing, Itransition offered an algorithm for the network self-healing and self-organizing through an automated access point (AP) created for every infrastructure component. In case a node breaks down or the connection gets unreliable, the system builds another AP to transmit the message to the destination.

Addressing first-time setup and connectivity challenge, we generated in-depth connectivity flow that highlights two possible scenarios: new device entry and configuration or earlier enabled device connection.

Addressing the setup and connectivity challenges, we generated a connectivity flow that covers two possible scenarios:

  • Adding and configuring a new device
  • Connecting a previously enabled device

To provide safe access to the infrastructure for all the participants, we implemented the OAuth protocol for all mobile clients and embedded devices to receive authentication credentials via JSON Web Tokens from the CloudApp.

Besides, Itransition offered several connection flows using custom BLE, Wi-Fi, and BLE + Wi-Fi profiles.