Emerson, the world’s leading provider of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration solutions, has been pioneering in electrical technology for over 100 years. Their most recent venture into cutting edge technology is Sensi, a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat that can be accessed from anywhere–home or away–right from a PC, smartphone or tablet.
Emerson reached out to WWT to help them create their new product, bolstering their internal electronics expertise with our deep knowledge of sensor integration, mobile application development, design and the Internet of Things. In support of the Sensi thermostat, WWT created a web portal, an iOS app, an Android app, and the scalable Cloud infrastructure to connect it all in a single, business-driven ecosystem.
Our work together began with discussions focused not merely on the software WWT was going to develop, but the whole life-cycle of the product: what it would mean to take the thermostat out of the box, connect it to the Internet, and live with it in the home. Emerson and WWT collaborated to create an initial list of stories–features, capabilities, units of work–and evolved a vision for the back-end architecture needed to support a connected thermostat.
Throughout the evolution of Sensi, the Emerson and WWT teams participated in daily “stand-up” check-in calls, weekly demos, and on-site meetings, both at Emerson and at the WWT offices in downtown St. Louis. Emerson was able to keep up-to-date on the work currently in development, and the WWT team was able to gather feedback and keep ahead of the evolving requirements of the project.
The WWT team employed Agile processes during the development of Sensi. The software, hardware, and firmware components developed in tandem, with each team pushing the others to create the best product possible, resulting in an extremely tight-knit, high-functioning system.
Emerson and WWT participated in white-boarding exercises focused on using user interactions and design as a tool to overcome some of the challenges customers face. Thinking through the product from an interaction and design perspective led the teams to many of Sensi’s most innovative and exciting features, helping to fully develop the end-to-end Sensi experience.
We do a lot of testing at WWT. Every piece of code that we roll out is validated against programmatic tests to make sure it functions as intended. With Sensi, we saw an excellent opportunity to do another kind of testing as well–usability testing.
We conducted three rounds of tests for the Sensi project. The first round of testing provided us with penetrating insight into our initial efforts: only 20% of those tested were able to successfully complete the task at hand. We took the notes, comments, and feedback we received and looped it all right back into enhancing the apps. When we did the tests again, four out of five users were on the path to success. Then we refined the app even further.
The WWT Sensi team created a full, scalable Cloud infrastructure to facilitate the communication between the mobile and web clients and the Sensi thermostats. In building the Cloud infrastructure for Sensi, we were able to leverage our substantial business experience with server-side architectures, sensor integration, and third-party integration.
We integrated the web portal, mobile apps, thermostats, a number of different sever technologies, clusters, and a third-party customer management system in a complex, logic-driven system of communication and authentication that, at the end of the day, the customer will never have to worry about. And that’s exactly how we believe it should be.
Emerson now has an integrated, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat, a suite of apps and a web portal to bring to market, along with the back-end infrastructure to support them. Sensi is going to keep Emerson driving full-speed ahead into the future, and WWT is proud to have helped make it happen.
For more information about the Sensi thermostat, visit www.sensicomfort.com.