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IoT: Esprida cloud monitors machines and keeps them running

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Think about the amount of digital signage you pass in the course of one day. You see it in malls, on sidewalks, and above your head on subway platforms. That’s a lot of hardware, a lot of software and, given the weather conditions some of the signs are exposed to, a lot of things that can go wrong. Which is why one of North America’s major advertising companies relies on TELUS Partner Esprida to help them monitor and maintain their digital signs. I sat down with Rupi Badwal, Esprida’s Corporate Alliance Director, and Asad Jobanputra, their Director of IoT Solutions, and they told me more.

“Our client builds digital signage enclosures,” explained Rupi. “They have multiple deployments across the U.S., such as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, San Francisco’s BART transit system and more. They sell their unique enclosures to major outdoor advertising companies, so they have to make sure the signs are working and that they minimize onsite support costs. To do that, they use our Esprida LiveControl™ to gather data from 30+ sensors and make smart decisions”. Esprida LiveControl is a very broad IoT platform for remote service, providing users with a global dashboard, remote diagnostics, remote control, notifications, software updates, and analytics.”

Instant, real-time status reports and alerts.
Asad picked up the story. “Our client puts a lot of work into dissipating heat, screening against glare, weatherproofing for snow, rain, heat. Their expertise lies in hardware design, but they didn’t have the experience building a backend software system for remote operations. So we help them gather data from their sensors, then we make it available in the cloud and alert them when an incident occurs. We can provide anything from a simple green, yellow or red alert signal to actually telling them exactly what has gone wrong, whether it’s a software or hardware fault and what needs to be done. The whole purpose is to reduce truck rolls and maintenance costs.”

In many cases, Esprida’s built-in self-healing rules solve the issue without any human intervention. For example, it reboots the system or restarts specific components such as the modem or the screen. As you can imagine, having these capabilities can make a huge difference to Esprida’s client, especially when getting a qualified technician to diagnose or repair a unit can cost north of $500 per visit. The client knows what’s wrong, what needs to be fixed and the system can even dynamically route a service ticket to the right team, making the whole process far more efficient.

Managing the world’s largest fleet of retail kiosks.
Esprida also works with a wide range of other clients. One is Kodak Alaris, which has about 100,000 digital photo machines and mini-labs in retail stores around the world. When the machines went down, some retailers would simply put up a sign saying “Out of service” and wait for a technician. To prevent this loss of revenue, Kodak Alaris deployed Esprida software on the back end of every machine and rebranded it Remote Business Manager. It monitors the system and identifies any problem and its source. When something goes wrong, Esprida LiveControl will try a number of self-healing processes and will only send an alert for service if the processes don’t work.

As well as making sure more machines are up and running more of the time, you can imagine how much this saves Kodak Alaris when it comes to service and maintenance.

The future.
Looking forward, Esprida is investing a lot of time in Android devices. “We see the Android device broadening out to commercial tablets, and Android computers used in a broad range of commercial applications in retail stores and restaurants,” said Asad. “So we’re working on providing a back end to make it easier to use them commercially. We’re solving problems to help companies with remote monitoring, troubleshooting and updating.”

For more information about this partnership and others, visit the TELUS IoT Marketplace.