We took the opportunity to talk to CEO Jason Harris of Anrim Technologies, an engineering and consulting firm focused on developing IoT products and capabilities. Based in Maryland, Jason and his team are currently invested in uncovering previously inaccessible opportunities in the connected car market.
Tell us about Anrim and your exploration of the connected car.
Anrim Technologies provides engineering and consulting services for our clients. We have also developed our own in-house product called DRIVE that deals with vehicle analytics in the connected car space.
In the auto service industry, dealerships and service centers currently use antiquated techniques such as emails, paper flyers, and mailers to market to their customers. These techniques rely on educated guesses as to when vehicle services may be needed, but ultimately rely on customer intuition to reach back out to the service center to have the work performed. The yield is low with this style of marketing, and allows competitors to easily steal customers away.
DRIVE changes things up by providing a cost-effective solution for connecting directly with customers and their vehicles. A service center can now have real-time insight into vehicle health, allowing them to call a customer about known service needs, increasing customer response, loyalty, and ultimately revenue.
For vehicle owners, DRIVE makes maintenance hassle-free. You no longer need to check the sticker in the windshield that says when the oil needs to be changed or worry about getting stranded on the side of the road when the Check Engine Light comes on. Now your service center will reach out to you when your vehicle needs service, giving you peace of mind that someone is watching out for your car’s well-being.
Because we are invested in providing a quality customer experience, we work with dealerships and service centers to offer DRIVE as a complementary service for the vehicle owner.
Was that your vision for DRIVE from the start, and how does it relate to your other offerings?
DRIVE was envisioned to be extremely low cost, but one of the significant costs of these types of services is the Mobile Network Operators (MNO), which provide cellular data connectivity. DRIVE was designed to eliminate the need for MNOs and enable the vehicle to connect to the DRIVE Service via the users’ smartphones. Users only need to have the DRIVE app installed on their phone. There is no need to open the app or press a sync button for the phone to relay the information between the vehicle and the cloud.
After seeing the need for such a service in other markets, we decided to market the data connectivity capabilities of DRIVE as a standalone offering called FlightPipe. FlightPipe has already solved the complexities of implementing a low-cost data connectivity solution for IoT. We are now providing this solution to other IoT providers, enabling them to focus on their core application instead of worrying about how to move data between their devices and the cloud.
So FlightPipe was also really born out of a real focus on data security as well?
Absolutely. Security is essential. The IoT is connecting millions of new devices to the internet every day and anything that connects is vulnerable to hacking. FlightPipe uses industry-standard cryptography and authentication mechanisms to provide a point-to-point VPN connection between the IoT service and the IoT endpoint device in the field.
I really like the cascade effect of you setting out to create one product and ending up creating two as a result of the real innovation you were tapping into. How did Silicon Labs help, and what was the selection process like?
After evaluating several different Bluetooth SoCs to meet our requirements for DRIVE, the Silicon Labs BGM123 SiP module was the singular solution that met all our needs. Additionally, it was very convenient to have pre-certification from the FCC; that enabled us to finalize the hardware portion of our design in record time. All this ultimately enabled us to meet our very aggressive go-to-market schedule.
Our team also benefited from working with Silicon Labs to get access to prerelease software and SDKs so we could finish our development quickly. Between the tools and the resources that were provided, Silicon Labs was extremely helpful in enabling us to meet our aggressive schedule.
In your opinion, what does the future of IoT look like? What are your ideas on what’s to come or to consider?
There is a lot of great opportunity for innovation in this space. I think the industry needs to be careful to appreciate that it is not the technological capabilities that will drive success, but ultimately the marketplace. That said, it will be exciting to see what is to come in the next few years.