SCHURTER Smart Connector

Intelligence for your electronic devices
Schurter's Smart Connectors make devices, such as a coffee machine, IoT capable. The Smart Connector app and web dashboard provide information about the power consumption and performance of connected devices and enable remote control and monitoring.
Client
SCHURTER AG
Year
2023
Categories
Concept and design, Software development, Web development, Projektmanagement, UX Writing
Links

SCHURTER Smart Ecosystem

SCHURTER produces intelligent device connectors that can be built into almost any device or connected to devices as external plugs, thus connecting them easily and securely to the internet.

However, SCHURTER does not "only" have smart hardware in its portfolio, but also various software components that form an entire ecosystem consisting of the SCHURTER Smart Connectors, app and cloud solution. The app is the link between the hardware and the cloud: it is needed to configure the hardware, connect it to the network and visualize the data from the connected smart connectors. In SCHURTER's cloud solution, all data flows together and is made visible in a customizable and configurable dashboard. Finally, an API opens up the ecosystem and allows further processing of the data in other applications.

Onboarding and pairing of the Smart Connector

Control devices and monitor power consumption

The Smart Connector measures energy, voltage and current of the connected devices. Based on this data, consumption and the times when devices are in operation or in standby mode can be analyzed.
In addition, the Smart Connector App can be used to conveniently switch the devices connected to the Smart Connector on and off remotely. Remote control of the devices makes it possible to keep control of the devices even when you are not at home. You can ensure can that devices are only switched on when they are actually needed. This helps to reduce energy consumption and minimizes potential security risks.

Smart Connector Overview and performance data

The Smart Connectors are available both as a built-in version (Smart Connector DS11) and as a stand-alone version (Smart Connector DT31). 

Additional inputs and outputs for signals in the built-in version (two binary or on/off inputs and one serial interface each) allow additional control and data acquisition options. And because over-the-air updates (OTA) are also possible, the systems can be maintained remotely. The collection of data from the devices in which a Smart Connector is installed also opens up opportunities in the area of predictive maintenance.

Comprehensive information about the Smart Connectors is available on the SCHURTER website.

Apps for both platforms and a web dashboard

The SCHURTER Smart Connector app is available as an iOS and Android app. In addition, functionalities are also available via a web dashboard.

For the dashboard development we used so-called web components. The great advantage of web components is that they can be flexibly integrated where they are needed. They can be used anywhere in the dashboard as so-called feature boxes without triggering unwanted interactions with other code parts.

SCHURTER Smart Connector Web Dashboard

Step-by-step approach with click dummies and prototypes 

Apps with love was allowed to accompany the development of most of the software components from the very beginning. The firmware for the Smart Connectors was developed by SCHURTER, and when the first version was available, we had our first conversation with SCHURTER in the summer of 2020 about the development of the apps, or rather about the design and construction of prototypes.

Based on the developed concept and design, we created a clickable prototype. With this, the most important use cases could be tested and validated internally and externally. Since the communication between app and hardware can be tricky, we also built a technical prototype. This allowed us to make sure that the communication between the app and the smart connector works via Bluetooth and that the connection to the cloud is possible before we started with the "real" development.

We explained more about prototyping and why we're fans of it in the blogpost "App Prototyping - Benefits, Design Tools and Examples

The prototypes were followed by the first version of the app, initially only for iOS. In autumn 2021, we were allowed to tackle the conception, design and implementation of the first version of the web dashboard. The integration and further development was then taken over by the SCHURTER team.

Finally, in the summer of 2022, the Android version of the app followed. In 2023, the apps were expanded and made officially available.
As you can see: Building an ecosystem - especially when hardware, firmware, apps and clouds have to be integrated - takes time.

As the cliché goes: Hardware is hard! 🤓

Jonas Wirz

"The collaboration with Apps with love was very valuable beyond the actual product development. With a lot of know-how and good ideas, Apps with love not only shaped and continuously improved the app and the dashboard, but also our API. It has often become apparent that the devil is in the detail.

Jonas Wirz, Deputy Head of Advanced Engineering at SCHURTER

UX-Writing

During the development process, we also paid attention to the texts in the app. Wording and tone were standardized, supplemented or simplified where necessary. The texts should be clear, easy to understand and helpful so that users are optimally guided through the pairing process and do not encounter any stumbling blocks. The following are two before-and-after examples:

Empty State of the Schurter Smart Connector App before and after UX-Writingr
As long as no Smart Connector is connected, no data is displayed to the user. This so-called "Empty State" is suitable for informing the users about what they would see once a device was connected and thus to encourage them to take action.
Password requirements before and after UX-Writing
Originally, users had to scroll down to see the password requirements. Missing or poorly visible password requirements lead to error messages that could easily be avoided. Therefore, the requirements have been placed directly below the password field.

Conclusion and outlook

The cooperation with SCHURTER over the last three years has been a success story. It is a long way from an innovation project to a marketable ecosystem, but one that is very exciting, varied and instructive. The most important success factors: mutual trust and exchange at eye level. When integrating different hardware and software components, there are many interfaces and therefore many things that can go wrong. In the area of security, but also in the integration of Bluetooth, WLAN or cloud connection. We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to work together with SCHURTER in such a cooperative and pragmatic way.

And we can be curious about what is yet to come! From SDKs for white-label solutions, function extensions in apps and the web to further hardware variants, nothing can be announced yet, but the possibilities are almost limitless!

Overview
Martin Moser
Martin Moser
Project Management
Still waters run deep. A project manager with whom you can imagine sitting around a campfire, barbecuing the grizzly you’ve just caught, and pondering about the stars until the sun comes up. If you want to realise a project in a hyper-laidback, worry-free way, you’re safe in his paws.
Raphael Neuenschwander
Raphael Neuenschwander
iOS Development
The nicest guy on earth with an accent to die for. If we were childless, we would adopt him. Plus, he’s an absolute professional when it comes to bits & bytes.
Björn Cotting
Björn Cotting
Quality Assurance
In his physics studies, he specialised in something called "Quantum Atom Optics". It's probably just as complicated as it sounds. We're glad he can also do quality assurance and, as a Basel resident by choice, sparetime-photographer and -footballer, travels back and forth between our locations to keep our collection of phones and tablets in order.
Matthias Ossola
Matthias Ossola
Android Development
Techie with extended talents: Not only does he have a past as a .Net developer that now benefits him as an Android dev, but he also is fluent in irony and drops sarcastic remarks while keeping a straight face. In addition, he is a speed learner in table football and teaches the established table footballers in the office the meaning of fear.
Valentin Naegeli
Valentin Naegeli
Head of Marketing & Communication
If you want to develop an app with us, Valentin’s the one you’ll get the first info and tips from. He’s more than familiar with the whole app ecosystem and knows if an app is worth it or if investments are going to have to be made first in marketing or a website. We also know him as “The Wolf of Landoltstreet”.
Roman Hofer
Roman Hofer
Co-Head of Project Management
Always has a smile on his face and is ready to crack a joke, but when it's serious you can rely on him like no other. When he's not out in the fresh air with his phone to his ear, you're sure to find him on a bike trail.
Maya Walther
Maya Walther
Marketing & Sales, UX-Writing
Highly qualified know-how, pragmatism, efficiency, creativity: she has it all. Fresh texts and new ideas lift our marketing team to the next level.
Stefan Spieler
Stefan Spieler
Concept & Design
Design professional in all aspects. Has a beard now but is still up for every sort of goofing around when it comes to design, games, 3D, table tennis, swimming, horse riding or reading. One of the first with us and still one of the nicest.
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