Newtwen, an Italian startup, specializes in the development of digital twins for diverse industrial equipment under the IoTWEN brand. In particular, they have crafted a controller designed for managing solar panels. Newtwen boasts a team of proficient embedded development specialists and skilled firmware programmers. However, to effectively interface with these digital twins, the company required software solutions, encompassing a mobile application for end users and a web application tailored to the needs of developers and maintenance teams.
Following a meticulous estimation of the projected costs and timelines associated with independent software development, the Newtwen team determined that seeking a pre-existing solution would be the most prudent course of action. Consequently, they contacted 2Smart, expressing their keen interest in the white-label offering of 2Smart Cloud’s mobile and web applications.
The 2Smart white-label solution comprises three distinct applications that are customizable to bear the customer’s branding:
Newtwen’s requirement wasn’t simply to acquire a pre-packaged solution for addressing a singular issue but rather to establish a partnership with a provider capable of delivering a comprehensive product and offering long-term support. Newtwen sought out-of-the-box IoT software, a fully established infrastructure, and continuous support from a partner who possessed the capability to furnish new tools as they expanded their deployment of digital twins. Consequently, the white-label IoT platform was intended to complement the IoTWEN product, augmenting its value proposition.
The primary and sole challenge when implementing any 2Smart white-label solution is a relatively straightforward task: adapting the firmware of customer devices to the 2Smart Cloud protocol. Three minimum requirements must be considered:
The Homie convention, utilized within 2Smart, establishes a standardized approach for how IoT devices and services announce themselves and their data on the MQTT broker. This convention is pivotal in enhancing the MQTT protocol by enabling automatic discovery, configuration, and utilization of devices and services.
The 2Smart team delivers a white-label platform as a turnkey solution. This involves handling tasks such as server deployment, registering test and developer accounts on the AppStore and Google Play, and preparing content to align with the app market requirements. This is the default option, although the customer can take on the solution of the listed tasks themselves if they wish.
When deploying the solution for Newtwen, we asked the customers to do it themselves only, providing them with support and advice. Consequently, some key details essential for deploying a white-label solution and potentially affecting project timelines have been omitted from the following discussion.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that each component of the white-label instance of the 2Smart IoT platform, including the mobile and web applications and the infrastructure, can be configured in various modes according to the customer’s specific requirements. We conduct a comprehensive client survey to understand their precise functional needs to ensure a tailored solution. Therefore, in the following sections, we will outline the project implementation customized to meet the specific requirements of Newtwen.
The 2Smart platform supports the connection of devices based on various microcontrollers with Internet access capabilities. All that’s required for firmware developers is to utilize the documentation available on our GitHub. The process becomes notably streamlined when working with devices based on the ESP32 microcontroller, as our team has developed a boilerplate for this purpose.
Given that IoTWEN controllers are constructed upon the ESP32 framework, specifically the M5Stack Stations, integrating them with 2Smart has become a straightforward endeavor. Initially, the customer expressed their intent to create and develop the firmware independently. To facilitate this, our team took measures to ensure they could quickly and comprehensively grasp our platform’s intricacies.
To support the Newtwen developers, the 2Smart team provided them with our Software Development Kit (SDK) and furnished firmware examples for 2Smart Cloud devices. Additionally, we offered diligent guidance to our colleagues, providing examples and reviews on their code. This collaborative effort paved the way for the successful launch of the inaugural version of the controller firmware.
The 2Smart white-label solution was implemented for IoTWEN and hosted on the customer’s server, specifically on the domain newtwen.com. Corresponding adjustments were applied to the firmware, ensuring that the devices establish connections with the designated server.
Let’s now explore the outcomes achieved by the Newtwen team following the deployment of the 2Smart white-label solution for their solar panel controllers.
The mobile application designed for IoTWEN device management is a customized version of the 2Smart Cloud application. It serves as an interface for engaging with digital twins, facilitating seamless data transfer to and from the application in a user-friendly format.
Digital twins usually rely on specific internal parameters, which are typically known during production or commissioning. The 2Smart Cloud application enables remote adjustments of these parameters, either manually or automatically, to accommodate factors such as aging or data collected from the entire fleet of similar devices.
End users of the devices create an account within the app, log in, and employ a pairing process to establish a connection between their device and their smartphone.
The assortment of widgets for device function management and monitoring aligns with the configurations set by developers in the web application.
While the 2Smart Cloud platform offers an extensive library of mobile application widgets for vendors, we frequently receive requests from clients to develop new widgets. Such a request came from Newtwen, who required a widget capable of offering visual guidance to end users when operating their product. For instance, it might provide hints on addressing specific issues that may arise while operating the device.
Remarkably, this client request surfaced approximately two weeks prior to their scheduled white-label platform release. Undaunted by the tight timeline, we promptly reallocated resources within our team and successfully conceived the “Status Image” widget in a mere seven working days. This widget empowers vendors to display customized images within the mobile application when a specific sensor value aligns with predefined criteria. Consequently, Newtwen gained enhanced functionality without compromising project deadlines.
In consent with Newtwen, we made the “Status Image” widget available in the public version of the 2Smart Cloud IoT platform. This means that all platform vendors now have access to this valuable addition.
The 2Smart Cloud white-label mobile application offers support for both light and dark themes, localization in multiple languages, and various additional features. The customer selects the final configuration, as the chosen set of features can impact the cost and delivery timeline of providing them with a fully prepared mobile application from our side.
In the case of Newtwen, they have chosen to defer the implementation of many such features. These include the ability to control devices through phone calls, integration with IFTTT, Siri, and Google Home, as well as sending device notifications to popular instant messengers such as Slack, Telegram, and WhatsApp. At present, users of IoTWEN products can make use of sharing functionality and a Telegram bot for device control. The application is provided with a dark theme and an English interface.
The IoTWEN developer web application represents a customized version of the public 2Smart Cloud platform, boasting identical functionality. Prior to the project’s initiation, Newtwen experts extensively used the free tier of the public 2Smart Cloud platform and leveraged materials from our blog to independently acquaint themselves with the platform’s functionality. Subsequently, when deploying their white-label instance, they leveraged this acquired knowledge to efficiently execute the majority of tasks associated with creating, configuring, and launching a new IoT product.
Our comprehensive package of services for implementing a white-label solution includes consultations with the 2Smart team regarding platform utilization. Notably, we received only minimal inquiries from our colleagues at Newtwen. This further underscores that a motivated platform user with well-defined objectives can readily comprehend the intricacies of creating and managing their product.
Outlined below are the pivotal tools at the disposal of device developers within the web application.
The product configuration window equips developers with essential information to complete while crafting firmware for a specific device. This includes details such as the Broker URL, MQTT Login, Product ID, and Test device ID.
During the product creation process, developers make a selection of the microcontroller they intend to utilize, and relevant tools are subsequently provided to them based on this choice.
Once the firmware has been successfully installed on the test device, developers gain access to a user-friendly, no-code mobile application builder. This builder automatically detects all the sensors present on the device and assigns the appropriate widget to each one. Developers can harness the extensive widget library offered by 2Smart and further tailor the app’s interface to their specific requirements through simple drag-and-drop.
Moreover, in contrast to the public 2Smart Cloud platform, the white-label version offers the flexibility to configure distinct sets of mobile application widgets, catering to users with varying roles within the system. These roles, such as end-user, administrator, technical support specialist, developer, and more, are defined within the enterprise management platform, a subject we will explore shortly. Users may access specific widgets tailored for controlling and monitoring devices depending on their designated role within the system. This flexibility empowers administrators and technicians with capabilities beyond those available to regular end-users.
Newtwen developers have the capability to deliver firmware updates to their devices via over-the-air (OTA) transmission. To accomplish this, they need to upload the updated binary to the platform and initiate the update publication. The solar panel controllers will then receive these updates according to the settings customized by each user.
In addition, developers also have the option to update the mobile application’s interface for end users using the same no-code builder. Once the changes are published, users will encounter the updated interface the next time they restart the mobile application without requiring an update from the app store.
Within the developer’s web application, you will find the minimum required device usage statistics:
For more comprehensive and detailed monitoring, the enterprise management platform can be utilized.
Our customized web application, designed for remote device control and monitoring, incorporates the following fundamental features:
This functionality empowers Newtwen with the capability to connect and oversee its entire fleet of devices. The company can also incorporate its subsidiaries or partner firms into the system, allowing them to independently access and utilize all the features of the business platform.
Newtwen also showcases the enterprise management platform to prospective clients of their digital business transformation services to enhance their value.