AbiBird Helps the Elderly Live Independently at Home Using AWS

AbiBird

Helping the Elderly Stay Independent with Technology

AbiBird is a wholly owned division of ATF Services, an Australian group of companies with 350 employees and contractors, and 60 branches in Australia and New Zealand. AbiBird offers a service consisting of infrared sensors for homes, which help monitor the activities of elderly residents through a smartphone-based app. The sensors can be set to monitor lifestyle routines such as waking up for breakfast or going to bed by certain times. It then sends an alert to the occupant’s loved ones via the app when a routine behavior has been broken, or no activity has been detected for a while.

When AbiBird developed the AbiBird service, it was built on the expertise that ATF Services had gained in sensor technologies. The business developed AbiBird to use Narrowband Internet of Things (NBIoT) technology, which is a cellular communications technology to connect devices. Key advantages of NBIoT include improved indoor and outdoor coverage and low power consumption. Robin Mysell, CEO of ATF Services and AbiBird, says, “The low power consumption of NBIoT means an AbiBird sensor can run for 12 months on four Energizer AA lithium ion batteries. Competing sensors using the 3G communications technology, for instance, would run for no more than a few days on the same power source.”

“We believe our technology running on AWS will allow the growing number of elderly people to live independently at home—where they are happier.”

Robin Mysell, CEO, ATF Services and AbiBird

  • About AbiBird
  • Benefits
  • AWS Services Used
  • About AbiBird
  • AbiBird offers a service that helps elderly people live independently at home, safe in the knowledge that their loved ones are always reachable in times of emergency or distress through its smart sensors and smartphone app.

  • Benefits
    • Cuts the number of support tickets from 62 to 0
    • Delivers competitive edge with cloud IT
    • Drives innovation and product development though platform’s flexibility
    • Enables expansion with a scalable global solution

     

  • AWS Services Used

Facing Initial Technical Challenges

Prior to using Amazon Web Services (AWS), AbiBird was working with Two Bulls, a Select Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN), to build the backend infrastructure for the AbiBird service on Microsoft Azure. In order to keep AbiBird’s infrastructure up and running, Two Bulls had to raise about 62 support tickets with the cloud service provider. Evan Davey, partner at Two Bulls, says, “Microsoft Azure didn’t provide enough stability and scalability. We needed an infrastructure that could provide reliability and scale massively—potentially to millions of AbiBird sensor devices without issues.” Two Bulls looked to move AbiBird to AWS, which has supported several other workloads at ATF Services, including ATF Vision, an outdoor video security monitoring solution using 4G and solar power, whose backend has been running in the AWS Cloud for almost five years.

Migrating to AWS Fixes the Problems

Two Bulls rewrote the service backend code to run optimally in an open-source AWS infrastructure. The IT partner spent four to five months migrating the backend from Microsoft Azure to AWS and used this time to fully test a microservices architecture. Key AWS services supporting the backend include AWS Lambda, which provides AbiBird’s message-ingest pipeline. The pipeline transports data from AbiBird sensors to the backend using AWS IoT Core. Davey comments, “We chose AWS Lambda due to its ease of use and its scalability as well as for the managed nature of the service.”

The AWS IoT Core receives sensor messages, processes the data, and publishes messages on the AbiBird smartphone app. Two Bulls is planning to use AWS IoT Device Management in the future to track, monitor, and remotely manage connected AbiBird sensors. “We’re keen to use AWS IoT Device Management to allow for two-way communications and device shadowing,” says Davey.

Two Bulls created a hybrid solution for the sensor backend whereby the public application programming interface (API) is hosted in Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), while the message-ingest pipeline utilizes AWS services such as Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), and Amazon DynamoDB. To run containers in Amazon ECS, Two Bulls added AWS Fargate. Says Davey, “We decided on AWS Fargate because we wanted the platform to be as managed as possible and didn’t want the hassle of administering our own fleet of virtual machines.”

Eliminating All Support Tickets

AbiBird launched the sensor backend on AWS in January 2019 and has never needed to raise a single support ticket, saving time and money. “Every support ticket we raise has a cost because 5 to 15 people could be spending time in some way to support that ticket. Not raising support tickets with AWS means that we’re running efficiently with a minimal amount of support overhead,” says Davey.

Staying Ahead with the Cloud

With AWS, AbiBird’s technology is two to three years ahead of its competitors’. “AbiBird uses mature sensor technology, integrated with the AWS Cloud that is already successfully supporting several services of ATF Services. Our use of IoT is also at a mature state,” Mysell explains. “I see competitors that are still investigating how they can migrate their technology from on premises to the cloud.”

A Platform That Promotes Development

The reliability of the AWS microservices infrastructure allows AbiBird to focus on development. The company is currently building AbiButton and AbiWander, both of which will run on AWS, using similar infrastructures to AbiBird. AbiButton is a device that elderly or vulnerable people will wear, allowing them to raise an alert when they meet with mishaps such as a bad fall and need help, while AbiWander is a sensor that alerts loved ones if, for example, a family member leaves the house unexpectedly at night. Mysell says, “We can focus on innovation with AWS and not be constrained by what our server infrastructure can cope with.”

Today, the AbiBird service is operating in Australia and New Zealand, but the business has plans to launch in the US, the UK, Spain, Germany, and other parts of the world with AWS, as NBIoT becomes more widely available. Mysell says, “We believe our technology running on AWS will allow the growing number of elderly people to live independently at home—where they are happier.”

Learn More

To learn more, visit https://aws.amazon.com/iot/