AWS IoT Named “Best Consumer IoT Solution” at 2020 IoT World Awards
At AWS, we build technology to help customers and partners like Bose, Vizio, LG, British Gas Centrica Connected Home, Ayla, NXP, and more solve real world problems and unlock possibilities to create better business outcomes and new consumer experiences. Yesterday, IoT World named AWS IoT the “Best Consumer IoT Solution” for 2020. We are grateful to the IoT World team and panel of judges for this honor, and commend our ecosystem peers who were shortlisted. This award is an opportunity for us reflect on the journey we’ve forged with our customers and global ecosystem of world class partners who use AWS IoT services to build consumer application for use cases such as home automation, security and monitoring, home networking, energy management, and more.
These organizations rely on our technology to help accelerate time to market, innovate for better customer experience, reduce connection costs, manage IoT devices at scale, and deliver results to their top and bottom line. But the truth is, we also rely on them to ensure we are providing the market with the right solutions for building and managing great consumer IoT applications. Our ecosystem of partners help integrate our services with IoT hardware customers need to produce smart and secure products, build ready-made solutions, and extend their expertise to help customers achieve their desired outcomes faster. Our customers and partners inspire us by their ingenuity and constant desire to break the boundaries of what is possible today. Understanding their problems and desired outcomes helps us better shape the technology we provide them, and inspires our teams to always strive for more from the solutions we deliver.
Since launching AWS IoT in 2015, we recognize that most, if not all, of our major product milestones are the direct result of learning from the pain points our customers and partners are facing and turning those learnings into solutions that help them securely build and manage IoT devices at scale. This blog post will chronicle several of our key solution milestones and highlight a few of the customers and partners who continue to help us define what it means to be the industry’s best solution for consumer IoT use cases.
2015-2016: AWS IoT is born
Before we announced the general availability of AWS IoT in December 2015, pioneer customers were already building IoT applications using other AWS and Amazon Services. Coupling their feedback with our experiences with Amazon Robotics, drones (Amazon Prime Air), the Amazon Echo and Alexa Voice Service, the Dash Service, and multiple generations of Kindles and FireOS devices, gave us a well-informed perspective on current pain points that added complexity and development time to IoT applications. We designed AWS IoT Core, a managed cloud service that lets connected devices easily and securely interact with cloud applications and other devices at scale, with all of these learnings in mind.
One of these early customers was iRobot. In September of 2015, as the popularity of the Roomba climbed and the number of connected customers and services quickly multiplied, iRobot recognized it needed an IoT solution that could quickly scale for more direct control. They selected AWS IoT as a core component for their next generation platform. “The AWS serverless architecture and the ease of use of the AWS services inside it free up developer time to produce business value,” said Ben Kehoe, Cloud Robotics Research Scientist, iRobot. Today, iRobot uses AWS IoT services to provision and manage their global connected device fleet (they surpassed 30 million robots sold milestone in 2019!), delivers new innovations in smart home robotics such as the Terra® t7 Robot Mower, and continues to handle holiday traffic spikes of up to 20X their norm with ease.
Another pioneer was Rachio, creator of the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller, a WiFi-based irrigation controller that allows consumers to optimize irrigation schedules. The controller consults local weather forecasts and automatically adjusts watering time and volume to account for specific irrigation setups, plants, and soil types in up to 16 different irrigation zones. This allows users to conserve water while not under-watering lawns and landscaping. “For companies wanting to get into the IoT space, tools like AWS IoT enable a faster time to market and eliminate the need to spend months and months and hundreds of thousands of dollars building a solution yourself,” says Franz Garsombke, CTO and Co-Founder of Rachio.
Zimplistic — the makers of Rotimatic, a smart, fully automated flatbread-making robot —use IoT and Machine Learning technology to replicate a bread making process that’s been handed down from parents to their children over generations. Using AWS IoT, Zimplistic can monitor the performance of the machines, making changes to its software if errors occur. Crucially, Zimplistic can also gather data on customer usage and feed that information into design updates. The connectivity also enables Zimplistic to roll out new software quickly and easily to all machines at the same time. This means Rotimatic owners get the convenience of a smart device that repairs itself if an error occurs and is being constantly improved.
2017: Powerful intelligence at the edge, easier device management, and a better way to manage video data generated from connected cameras.
In June 2017, we introduced AWS IoT Greengrass to help customers seamlessly extend AWS to edge devices so they can act locally on the data they generate, while still using the cloud for management, analytics, and durable storage. This functionality is particularly useful for customers managing security cameras, routers, and in-home health monitoring devices, for example.
This ability to act locally, even when not connected to the Cloud, was critical for Electronic Caregiver, as this enabled them to directly support a patient’s safety and wellbeing in the home. Electronic Caregiver provides patients with wearable gadgets (such as a wrist pendant), 24/7 vitals monitoring devices (such as a contact-free thermometer and a glucose meter), and in-home healthcare solutions that are connected to the cloud but must operate seamlessly day and night at the edge. If a patient’s health reading is atypical, Electronic Caregiver springs into action delivering 24/7 Emergency response if needed to get the patient back on track. From a technical perspective, AWS IoT Greengrass Machine Learning Inference pushes a machine learning model built in Amazon SageMaker directly to the edge device in the user’s home. The patient is asked specific questions to help assess the cause of the anomaly, and then they receive from their device a prediction of the likely reason(s) for this result as well as recommended solutions. These questions and solutions are voiced to the patient with Amazon Lex and Amazon Polly, as well as shared with the patient’s selected stakeholders (such as family members and doctors) so everyone on the individual’s care team is immediately aware. Today, Electronic Caregiver delivers critical patient information around the world that helps save lives using AWS IoT together with dozens of other AWS services.
While edge use cases were growing in importance, our customers had also seen growth in device fleets, with millions or even tens of millions of devices deployed at hundreds or thousands of locations. At this scale, treating each device individually was impossible. We introduced AWS IoT Device Management to help customers securely onboard, organize, monitor, and remotely manage their IoT devices at scale throughout their lifecycle.
Klika-Tech, an AWS Systems Integration Partner focusing on IoT, Big Data, and Data Visualization solutions, began using AWS IoT Device Management in a number of solutions tailored for consumer IoT use cases. In one such solution, Klika Tech and Stonehenge NYC came together to demonstrate what’s possible in smart apartment technology. Klika Tech built a proof of concept using Alexa, Salesforce, and AWS IoT services including AWS IoT Core, AWS IoT Analytics, and AWS IoT Device Management. As part of the proof of concept, AWS IoT monitored the air conditioning in the apartment, and users could control temperatures using Alexa. Klika Tech created a system for tenants to report service issues via Alexa, which are automatically entered into Salesforce, where they could be monitored and addressed by management.
In 2017, AWS also introduced Amazon Kinesis Video Streams (KVS), a service that makes it easy to securely stream video from connected devices such as security cameras or baby monitors to AWS for machine learning, analytics, and processing. AWS IoT, together with KVS, simplify device management and video streaming for millions of smart home cameras. Comcast migrated to AWS IoT and KVS as well as other AWS services, such as Amazon SageMaker, to power their Xfinity Home security cameras and focus on secure storage of video data from customers worldwide. By using fully-managed services, Comcast was able to develop a solution that was at least 25% less costly than their previous solution and reduced operational burden. This helps them focus their engineering resources on building better customer experiences such as Alexa Voice integration and developing rich playback applications.
Finally, we officially brought FreeRTOS into the AWS IoT portfolio. FreeRTOS is an MIT licensed open source, real-time operating system for microcontrollers that makes small, low-power edge devices easy to program, deploy, secure, connect, and manage. FreeRTOS helps consumer products companies like appliances, wearable technology, or smart lighting manufacturers standardize microcontroller-based device development, delivery, and maintenance across a wide variety of products and models. Customers like Traeger, PetSafe, Hatch, and more use the FreeRTOS kernel to run low-power devices as well as software libraries that make it easy to securely connect to the cloud or other edge devices, so they can collect data from them for IoT applications and take action.
Belkin, a global electronics brand that specializes in connectivity devices, is no stranger to innovation. They launched the original Wemo smart plug in 2012. As their device count grew and Belkin prepared to introduce the next generation, the company needed a solution that would allow them to focus on their product innovations—not on managing their IoT infrastructure—and found one in AWS IoT. By updating its IoT infrastructure with AWS IoT Core and FreeRTOS, Belkin was now prepared to handle a surge in new devices at less cost, while reducing product latency. As the next generation of AWS IoT Core and FreeRTOS–enabled devices reaches more people, such as the newly announced Wemo Mini that works with Alexa, Belkin expects the time and money it saves will lead to more robust data analysis and machine learning, providing opportunities to further improve Wemo devices.
2018: IoT security and robotics
To help customers secure their fleet of devices, we introduced AWS IoT Device Defender, a service that lets you continuously monitor security metrics for deviations from what you have defined as appropriate behavior for each device. If something doesn’t look right, AWS IoT Device Defender sends out an alert so you can take action to remediate the issue. “AWS IoT Device Defender provides device behavior monitoring that is a must-have for any IoT company that is building a secure infrastructure,” says Franz Garsombke, CTO, Rachio. AWS IoT Device Defender was recognized as the “Best IoT Security Solution” at the 2019 IoT World Awards.
At re:Invent 2018 we introduced AWS RoboMaker, a service that leverages AWS IoT Greengrass and helps developers build, test, and deploy robotics applications in the cloud. AWS IoT veteran iRobot uses AWS RoboMaker to quickly discover problems across different product lines, accelerate the pace of their software builds and tests, and to ultimately manufacture higher quality consumer products. “We were already an AWS customer, using AWS IoT services to monitor our robot fleet,” Chris Kruger, Director of Software Engineering at iRobot says. “We trust AWS to deliver reliability, flexibility, and scalability.”
2019: Alexa Voice and two-way video streaming
In September 2019, Amazon announced the general availability of Alexa Connect Kit (ACK), a new way for device makers to connect devices to Alexa without worrying about managing cloud services, writing an Alexa skill, or developing complex networking and security firmware. ACK is built on AWS IoT, and meets the cloud reliability requirements for the Works with Alexa (WWA) certification program. Leading device makers and consumer products companies, including Procter & Gamble and Hamilton Beach, use ACK to develop smart devices.
Following up on the launch of ACK, we released the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) Integration for AWS IoT Core on AWS IoT Day in November 2019. AVS Integration for AWS IoT Core helps customers quickly and cost-effectively go to market with Alexa Built-in capabilities on new categories of products such as light switches, thermostats, and small appliances. AVS Integration for AWS IoT Core lowers the Alexa Built-in cost up to 50 percent by offloading compute and memory intensive workloads to the cloud and lowers the hardware requirements from 100MB to 1MB of RAM and from ARM Cortex ‘A’ class microprocessors to ARM Cortex ‘M’ class microcontrollers. This enables customers to bring Alexa directly to any connected device so users can talk directly to their surroundings rather than to an Alexa Family of Devices. The AVS Integration for AWS IoT Core was highlighted by Gartner in their 2020 Vendor Report as a key example of how Amazon is expanding the breadth and depth of its cloud infrastructure offerings. In this report, Gartner rated Amazon as Strong due to its consistent delivery of capabilities and customer value.
By using the AVS Integration for AWS IoT Core, iDevices was able to accelerate time-to-market from their typical 12-14-month development cycle to 4 months and optimized their infrastructure costs for their Instinct light switch with Alexa Built-in. “If you think about the innovation in the gangbox, the light switches, and outlets, there really hasn’t been anything,” says iDevices CTO, Shawn Monteith. “Now you can control it with voice, and what we’re really trying to do is just extend that technology and bring some innovation to it.”
Finally, at re:Invent 2019 Amazon Kinesis Video Streams added support for real-time two-way media streaming with WebRTC for use cases like home security and monitoring, camera-enabled doorbells, baby and pet monitoring, smart appliances, and more. Wyze uses AWS IoT to connect and manage their consumer devices and Amazon KVS to ingest, store, and process camera video. Now, Wyze has expanded their product offerings to include devices such as light bulbs, smart plugs, locks, contact and motion sensors, and more, delivering innovative experiences at attractive price points across a variety of consumer use cases.
What will 2020 and beyond bring?
In 2020, we have seen companies continue to rely on AWS IoT services to help them cost-effectively deliver innovative consumer IoT products and experiences at scale.
“We have great customers. They challenge us every day to peek around corners and invent the tools they need to build connected ecosystems. Our customers are solving real world problems every day and we love being a part of that process!” says Michael MacKenzie, GM of AWS IoT Connectivity and Control Services.
One such customer is Traeger Grills. Traeger allows users to command their grill from the couch or on-the-go with a WiFi controller that connects a smartphone to the grill via the Traeger App. They saw rapid commercial success and quickly realized they needed a new IoT platform to support their growth—and saw AWS as a way to better integrate different parts of their business. Earlier this year, Traeger worked with a member of the Amazon Partner Network (APN), OST, to migrate hundreds of thousands of grills to AWS IoT Core, FreeRTOS, and OST’s proprietary IP, The IoT Foundation, with no disruptions to the end user’s service. By the end of 2020, Traeger expects that number to quadruple—and with the AWS platform, this growth in capacity is available on demand, allowing Traeger to scale as needed. Traeger Grills also work with Alexa, so users can ask Alexa to set the food probe temperature, check pellet levels during cooking, or to shut down the grill after they are done. Because it’s on AWS’ single, well-integrated platform, Traeger can now bring value, like voice-enable actions, to the market faster.
We always welcome feedback about what to build next – get in touch with our team to let us know what you’d like to see us build, or to learn how to get started with AWS IoT Solutions for the connected home and consumer devices. If you’d like to stay up to date on the latest AWS IoT news, subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.