Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming to our everyday lives by offering various value added services based on the information different products, electronic devices at home or industrial machines provide.
During Spring 2014 our innovation team decided to demonstrate IoT concept on Salesforce platform. The idea was to link data from a connected product to a business application. To achieve real data for demonstration we connected the flight data of remotely controlled Parrot AR Drone 2.0 quadcopter to Salesforce Service Cloud. By default the quadcopter logs all kinds of interesting data about its movements, energy consumption and even images and video recorded by its camera.
In order to connect the quadcopter to Salesforce we created a data acquisition functionality into the quadcopter controller which is an Android application communicating via WLAN. The original Android application supplied by Parrot is provided open source and this made the data acquisition customization very easy. All the flight data was delivered to Salesforce and stored in a FlightData object.
Demonstrator acquired flight data from Drone’s gyros GyroX, GyroY and GyroZ and rotation data theta (pitch), psi (roll) and phi (yaw) which was then utilized as a following data in Salesforce:
- flight path in x,y coordinates and height
- energy consumption and battery health
- flight time, air time, flight route length, average speed, maximum speed, average height, maximum speed
- images from the camera.
Salesforce Service Cloud and workflow features were demonstrated by triggering Cases of each flight for technicians to check the drone before and after flight. Cases were also triggered automatically based on the quadcopter’s battery level to encourage recharging.
Experiences about Connected Product Data in Salesforce
Data in Salesforce is constructed as objects. There is an object named "Flight" which will consist of child objects called "FlightData". One "FlightData" object will contain one set of sensor values and these values are snapshots taken every 66 milliseconds. We saw that in this case between 900-1500 “FlightData” records were collected in one minute. In the long run - and by taking the scaling of the solution in consideration - the volume of data will significantly increase and Force.com data storage may be limiting the use of some IoT applications.
Data storage based on flight time of one quadcopter:
Flight time = 1 minute
Storage space in Salesforce = 1,8 MB-2,5MB
Amount of records = 900-1500
There are several solutions available to enhance data management for the Force.com application. All the flight data can be stored into an external cloud server (e.g. Heroku) and process it in Force.com application. Secondly, the data can also be processed in the external cloud server and then the analysed data can be sent to Salesforce. In this scenario canvas application enables flexible integration capabilities between Force.com application and external cloud application server.
To fully manage flight data in Force.com without the external cloud servers, “Big Object” will be available for storing large big data amounts in the future. According to Salesforce.com, big data solution is considered when your system needs to manage over 100 million records. A real business case could be using quadcopters in border guard operations acquiring both flight data and video. No more than 30 minutes flight time a week by ten drones would mean over 100’s of millions of records per year.
Roadmap in utilizing data of connected products to build a business case
Key element in IoT is the business case for users. Monitoring and analysing the data of connected products need to be linked to business’ processes enabling additional sales or optimizing internal processes. According to Gartner in area of IoT the following high level business cases are recognized:
- Manage: Optimize utilization of assets
- Monetize: Pay-per-use
- Operate: Remote operation
- Extend: Provide digital services and content
Additionally, based on conversations with our customers, clear business case for increasing revenue comes from creating added value - with just in time and proactive services.
Fluido Drone Tracker project on Force.com demonstrates that bridging technology is available to link product data to business processes. The next step is to decide which business case fits best to your business and start creating value for your customers by offering new services. For example, by monitoring how much and when your customer is consuming materials you are able to offer products demand based (pay-per-use) instead of based on the customer’s purchasing request. This way performance can be measured and benefits reported to your customer.
Written by the Fluido team and the Metropolia students who participated in the project
For more information contact lauri.seppala(at)fluidogroup.com