Digitalizing Workplace with an IoT-Enabled Fully Automated Power Bank Rental Platform

JatApp developed software for a portable IoT power bank sharing station for a French startup. We also built iOS and Android mobile applications for managing power banks.

  • Duration: 8 months
  • Country: France
  • Industry: IoT
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Background story

A digital workplace doesn’t only mean a virtualized form of the traditional office environment.

It’s also about transforming the employee experience within the limits of a physical workspace.

Our client, a startup from France, came up with an idea to support digital transformation in the workplace by leveraging IoT technology to help people to be less attached to their work desks.

We helped the client develop software and mobile applications for their power bank sharing platform that allows employees to work on their computers anywhere around the office.

Power bank sharing platform

About the client

Our client is a French company based in Cannes. The startup allows companies, coworking spaces, and educational institutions to rent portable power banks and charging bases. When a user’s device is out of charge, or they want to change their work environment, users can take our client’s power bank and continue working from anywhere.

How does the product’s power station work? The station consists of a base and power banks. To take a power bank, a user needs to register on the platform via a mobile app and get validated by the admin. Once validated, the station unlocks a power bank for the user. When the user wants to return the power bank, they can simply put it back into the empty slot on the base.

Powerbank sharing platform

Challenge

Our client hired a professional product design team to develop the device: a charging base and power banks, but he still needed technical expertise to make the base and power banks communicate with each other. He found that expertise at JatApp.

We engaged with the project at the end of November and had to complete it by May when the device was expected to be produced and shipped from China. We had only six months to complete our work and we did it despite the tight schedule.

But because of the pandemic and shipping delays, the device was shipped to us only in September. To help the client speed up the time to market in these circumstances, the JatApp team developed an emulator to be able to test the hardware even without the real device.

Solution

  • Project planning

    At the beginning of the project, JatApp ran a discovery phase. As our main deliverables, we developed a detailed technical specification that documents how the system should operate, estimated the time and cost necessary for the project implementation, created a project development roadmap, and designed the architecture of our future solution.
  • DevOps

    Following the DevOps approach, the JatApp team set up the CI/CD pipeline to automate the software testing and delivery process. We also created staging environments to test the code and prevent potential issues in production. JatApp configured AWS to adjust the network, the load balancer, and the firewall to our project's needs and ensure software security.
  • IoT software engineering

    When building the IoT solution for our client, we used a powerful open-source message broker ActiveMQ to establish high throughput and low latency connection between power bases and power banks. This message broker is managed by AmazonMQ, a server that automatically manages software and security updates while making it easy to set and operate message brokers on AWS.
  • Testing

    When we completed the project, we couldn’t test it, since the hardware was not ready yet. JatApp developed a software emulator to be able to test the solution without hardware. When we received the real device, we performed final testing to ensure the software is working as it should.
  • Mobile app development

    JatApp developed Android and iOS applications for people to manage their power banks. The app communicates with the charging base, allowing users to get access to power banks.
  • Admin panel development

    JatApp developed an admin panel to allow office owners to manage their charging bases. Here’s how it works: an administrator enters general information about the company, chooses an interaction mode, and sets specific parameters. With the help of the panel, businesses can manage access to power banks: limit the number of power banks used simultaneously or set up a working radius for them, so that power banks won’t be stolen.

Technologies Used

  • Laravel
  • ActiveMQ
  • AWS
  • Swift
  • Java

Results

Apart from the basic functionality required for such systems, we integrated the following features:

Registration and verification

To achieve better security, we implemented a multi-step registration and verification process. It works as follows: a user registers with a mobile app and enters the base ID by scanning the QR code on the base. Next, a user has to be verified by the administrator, or the verification can be done automatically in case a corporate email address is entered when logging in.

QR code scanner

The mobile application has an in-built QR code scanner that simplifies the process of unlocking a power bank.

GPS tracker for power banks

Each power bank has a GPS tracker which limits their working radius. This way, users can’t take power banks far away from specified areas, like office buildings or university campuses.

Mobile application development
Push notification system

Another feature we’ve implemented is a push notification system. When a user returns a power bank, they get a notification via the app that the device is successfully returned and how much time they were using it.

Benefits

Today, our client has 24 registered organizations and more than 40,000 active users who charge their devices with our client’s branded power banks.

  • Secure access management
  • GPS tracking
  • QR code scanning
  • IoT software

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