Making a connected product like Good Night Lamp should be easy. We’re literally turning LEDs on and off. Our friends in the world of electronics consider it the ‘Hello World’ of technology. But it’s been hard. This week we had some problems with networks across Europe as we learnt from our partners Eseye. We’re at their mercy though when it comes to getting any information about what happens in telecoms networks. Upgrades on certain lines, shutdowns, problems, changes in their infrastructure. It’s all pretty opaque from our side which means we’re never able to be as responsive as we’d like with our customers. They email us first (well Laura), as they know first as the Good Night Lamp is in itself the first to suffer from any changes in the network.
After a few years of this situation and as we ramp us to make a completely new product in the US, with a completely new technology (known as ‘narrow band IoT’) we’ve decided to ‘take back control’ in a technological sense and open up the process of development.
This may mean open sourcing some of what we do, using easy to access platforms, and sharing a lot around some of the technical decisions we make, even some of the design decisions, all to share and help others build their own NBIoT solutions.
We’ve always been what I think of as a good example of a connected product and I’d like to see us be a good example of a company that shares its work in a way that is useful to others. I’ve always believed a rising tide lifts all boats but in the world of GSM connectivity, there is no tide. Everything is still so bitty, contracts with MVNOs, SIMs, testing in different geographies, the deployment, then the ongoing maintenance, this is nowhere near as easy as deploying a wifi-based solution. With the threat of 5G looming in the years ahead, there is the threat of constantly changing technology choices too and I’d like that transition to be easier. As easy as popping in another sim card in a phone.
I’ve also been helping steer a certification mark for better connected products. Like a Fairtrade sticker for connected products. I’d like GNL to qualify to get it.
I’ll be trying to work with old friends and partners like McQN ltd and Factoree in the next couple of months. I don’t want this to take long as we have to deliver some products to our US customers soon, but I’d like it to be an open and useful process for any company looking to use Narrow-band IoT.
We’re still not entirely clear as to why its so hard to make LEDs blink over mobile networks and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.