First Line is currently participating in a very exciting project for an international wearable tech startup led by some of the industry’s most experienced technologists and visionaries. (We can’t tell you who they are right now – maybe after their product conquers the world.)
A wearable electronic device alone, no matter how cool and cutting edge, is not sufficient for success on its own. It needs to be brought to market packaged with mobile apps, web applications, and the cloud. The cloud backend is crucial: since on-device computations are costly from the power consumption standpoint, all the processing needs to take place on the backend. The connected device continuously streams data from its sensors (accelerometers, heart rate sensors, light sensors, etc.) either to the mobile app, which transmits it further into the cloud for processing via Bluetooth Low Energy, or to the cloud backend directly via 3G/4G or Wi-Fi. It is there that the data is analyzed, visualized and presented to the users in the most compelling way, incentivizing them to change or improve their lives, driven by their new “quantified self” awareness. Integration with social media is conducive to the creation of communities of like-minded individuals and helps build support systems for users with similar objectives. Through gamification, users are motivated to share their data, compare their progress, compete, and meet their goals.
The customer came to us with a strong vision of an absolutely new and unique suite of new generation wearable devices. At the start of the engagement, First Line’s analysts and consultants worked closely with the client’s globally distributed team to translate the product vision into a manageable, comprehensive product backlog of specific features and functionality that could be delivered on the available budget and using feasible technologies. By estimating the numerous features envisioned by the client’s tech and design teams, we made it possible to start putting concrete dollar numbers on the “wishlist”, prioritize the feature list, and accelerate the process of getting to an MVP (minimum viable product).
The project spans multiple technologies: hardware, including technical design and power consumption; three mobile platforms; the web application; on-device software; backend; and numerous external integrations with other devices and applications. First Line assembled a cross-functional team that included experts in hardware, MEMS (microelectromechanical systems, e.g. accelerometers), embedded software, web development, big data, mobile development and UX design. We also came up with the work process to gradually add features and enhance the product incrementally over time, across all of its components, in sync.
When it comes to the mobile applications, their key feature is obviously the user interface. Our mobile application designers worked closely with the client’s team to translate their vision into actual screens that are easy to read, move across, and use; in other words, we helped translate the existing design assets into a workable, compelling and intuitive mobile UI.
One of the main challenges has to do with handling a very high volume of user data (such as biotelemetry) streaming from the device to the cloud backend. Built with millions of users in mind, the system needs to be able to capture and store many thousands of terabytes as it acquires new users over time. First Line’s experts designed a lightning fast solution driven by in-memory Redis for operational data capture, and CouchDB for persistent storage. This open source stack is capable of extremely high performance even when run on inexpensive hardware, and is easily scaled. The server architecture includes regional datacenters around the globe. Based on the user’s geographic location, the device data is streamed to the closest available physical server for optimal performance.
So, we are part of bringing a new product to life, a set of innovative wearable devices coupled with engaging mobile apps and a compelling web application with rich data visualization and advanced analytics. First Line is acting as a full-service technology partner, helping the customer get from a fascinating, innovative vision to a tangible, functioning product in hand.
On device: proprietary operating system
Mobile: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Backend: Java, Redis, CouchDB
Team size: 25
Total effort: 400 person-months