Case Study

WHILL Inc. - smart wheel chairs with IoT

ABOUT

Enhancing personal mobility

WHILL is a personal mobility device with a stylish design and intuitive ride, feel and controls. It’s a new form of transport.

Connecting WHILL to the Internet had been in the planning stages for some time as it would allow a range of new features and functionality. However, the WHILL team came from backgrounds in hardware like cameras and mobile phones, so telecommunications and the cloud were a bit unfamiliar to them. Also, given the battery constraints of the device, they knew there would be some challenges to offering Internet connectivity.

CHALLENGE

A flexible approach to system configuration enables faster development speed

When developing new features, the WHILL team builds demo products and prototypes they can loan to to customers to refine the development while testing actual equipment. Previously, whenever they changed the structure of their back-end systems, they would have to visit prototype users in person and tweak the settings manually in the devices. Since this ecosystem didn’t cater to making changes on the fly, it took a long time to get to a stage where they could have a full-scale user test.

SOLUTION

Whill uses SORACOM Air to manage devices and start/ stop SIM data communication. In the future, they look to programmatically control communications via the API during manufacturing and shipping.

Making the most of WHILL’s functionality as a mobility device requires minimizing communication load. SORACOM Beam converts UDP and TCP to HTTPS in the cloud, which they use for routing purposes. Soracom handles the secure transfer of data for WHILL in the cloud. The connection is converted to HTTPS on the cloud and sent to WHILL servers, allowing them to securely transfer data using a small packet size.

WHY SORACOM

Embedding small-scale communications in the product and letting the cloud do the heavy lifting

Thanks to SORACOM Air and Beam, WHILL has been able to drastically cut down on development time and keep battery consumption down. By changing routing settings, when content changes they can easily change the server-side setup and toggle the connection in the cloud.

Net-net is that WHILL achieved a 30%+ reduction in power usage by using Soracom.

WHILL also makes use of the IMSI IDs of the SIMs and the timestamp feature. They realized that sending the machine’s serial number was a waste of data. To that end, they identified devices by the internal IMSI ID on each SIM, which they then check against the serial number on the cloud in Soracom.

 

FUTURE PLANS

Improved safety and convenient new experiences

They want to power WHILL up to meet the needs of users, and to be able to upload GPS coordinates and battery state levels from WHILL and work with the data to offer services for user safety. They have high hopes that this new form of connectivity will let WHILL bring new, exciting, and convenient experiences to riders.

 

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