BIG Show

New York was just the right surrounding for two big premiers. First of all we presented our brand new prototype, The Changing Room. And secondly Bert gave live demos of a prototype at an event. The only thing missing was a red carpet and screaming teenagers.

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The reason why Bert had the pleasure of trading his comfortable coding environment for the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, was that The Changing Room is basically “his” prototype. “Let him sort that one out”, we thought. And so he did. Everything worked, nothing broke down…neither machine, nor human. We can proudly state that the hybris labs Changing Room was a great success at NRF’s BIG Show 2015. If you don’t believe us, read what others say.

Apart from The Changing Room we also brought an old friend along, The Smart Wine Shelf! Haven’t mentioned it here for quite some time now… good old boy… always reliable, always doing its job, flashing nicely, attracting people, making them happy… awww……… Oh, and with it there on the photo is Sven, doing something…

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Augmented Commerce

hybris labs can do B2B! Okay, you might not identify it as such in the first moment, because it looks as if we’re just playing with lego. But far from it! If you honestly believe we use our valuable working hours to build lego aeroplanes… you’re not absolutely wrong… But we had a very good (commerce related!!) reason to do so, as you will understand shortly. The problem about demoing B2B is that it’s often a bit too big (get it? sorry…). By using lego we can demonstrate the prototype in a closed environment which we’ve created ourselves. We call this a space-efficient demonstration.

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Augmented Commerce is an enhancement of our previous augmented reality prototype. The basic idea of recognising objects with your phone or tablet and then directly ordering new parts has stayed the same (we’re also using the same software), but we’ve added some new elements. You can now scan a more complex object, like a (lego) aeroplane, and the application will list all the parts within this object, so the item that needs to be replaced can easily be identified and then chosen. All product information displayed within the app is pulled from the hybris server, just as the ordering process is integrated with the hybris platform. And since we’ve created our own lego Universe, we can really deliver the required part instead of just pretending what would happen next. After the order has been approved by the manager (more B2B stuff), the specific lego piece is immediately delivered in the coolest way you can ever imagine. When you see it you’ll start jumping up and down, clapping your hands like a child in total excitement! Or maybe that’s just us… There’ll be a demo video soon, but you need to experience it live. So pop in at NY82!

augmented-commerce-90x60[3]

 
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Time for a change

Imagine a lady shopping for clothes… no, actually don’t imagine a lady, picture yourself! Because the odds are pretty good you’ve already been in the following situation, or at least in one similar to it. So, let’s start again. You’re shopping for clothes. You’ve already been round town for a while and have had a fairly successful tour so far, with the result that you’re now carrying at a minimum of three bags around with you. Oh, and it’s winter which means you’ll also be wearing a thick jacket. All that’s left on your list is a pair of trousers. You find a pair you quite like, pick your size, walk to the changing room, put down your bags, take off your jacket, take off your shoes, take off your trousers, try on the pair you’ve chosen and… bugger! Wrong size… You now have a few options:

a)    You put back on your trousers and your shoes, take your jacket and your four bags,         look for the right size, and… you know the rest.

b)    You stay as you are, leaving your shoes, your trousers, your jacket and your five                bags in the cabin (hoping that nobody steels your phone and your wallet), and                    then walk through the shop half naked, searching for the right size. Then from the             top…

c)    You’re lucky enough to have a partner who accompanies you on your odyssey. So,          depending on your personality and relationship, you now either stick your head                 out of the cabin, communicate through the closed curtain, or your partner joins                 you in the cabin. In any case your belongings and your six bags are safe.

Does any of that sound remotely familiar? Oh by the way, this is how our new prototype works:

A changing room is equipped with an RFID scanner and a tablet computer. When an item (labelled with an RFID tag) is brought into the changing room, it will almost immediately appear on the tablet. By using the application on the tablet, the customer can choose a different size or colour, and have the selected item ‘delivered’ to the cabin. The customer can also select items to create a wish list which is sent to him via email.

A big thank you to the hybris UI/UX team for taking care of the design and Impinj for assisting us with the hardware!

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Tiles in the Labs Space, fresh UI

Just before the holidays, we had a prominent visitor to the labs space: Bernd Leukert. For this, we decided to put the current Tiles prototype into the labs space. We’ll switch the bottles (products) that we use most likely, but I wanted to share this quickly with you.

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Our friends at SNK also did a great job on the web ui. It is fully responsive, so it looks great to add a tile with your smartphone but you can also get a great overview about all your tiles on a desktop browser.

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For the hybris summit ’15, mid-February, we’re now working on our own product designs. We’re currently envisioning to create our own can designs and buy 7 sets of refreshing, caffeinated, drinks with a different design (barcode) each.  I’ll post some graphics once we have them.

Also check out our Tiles video.

 
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Video

Funky Interview

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!

Here’s something nice to get this year started. It’s show&tell with Sven and Nick. This time featuring Funky Retail. Check it out and tell us what you think!

 
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Tiles in color, plus finalized arch poster

Now that we have all major events (except the hybris xmas party) behind us, we can finally focus on getting a few projects really finalized. Tiles  made huge progress over the last weeks and I just got the fully-colored tiles in, plus I have a finalized architecture poster that I want to share with you. Big kudos go out to Elke and DerGrueneFish, our booth building partners for this and most other projects. The tiles (21 in total, for 3 complete demo sets) are colored in 4 fresh colors for a change (no boring white!). I absolutely love the way they look.  Over one day, I was soldering the first 7 which are currently connected to one hub.

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For the poster, Kathi at SNK did an awesome job. I already ordered our poster which we’ll then present at the hybris summit 15 in Munich at our booth. Having a descriptive poster will greatly help us to explain the IoT setup for this prototype. Right now we expect to have cans on top of the tiles, so we made that part of the poster.

tiles-90x60

 

 

Just to recap the architecture, have a read:

  • “Tiles” are the wirelessly connected platforms. We use Punchthrough’s LightBlue Bean and remove the battery holder to make the platforms 8mm high. We still use CR2032 batteries, which gives us about 1 week battery life right now. We would get more, but I send our a MetaEvent every 10sec which is hard on the battery.
  • The “Hub” collects all data. It scans for tiles, continuously, and connects. The hub runs on the raspberry pi, uses a BLE dongle (choice is key here) and uses node.js for all programming. It sends on data to the server with CoAP – a UDP-based IoT protocol.
  • The “Server” collects all data for all hubs (yep, there can be many) and provides the necessary APIs for managing the User/Tile association, authentication and authorization (Oauth2 used here), etc.

 

One change over the last days was that we can now associate products with the tiles. That means a store manager can just scan a tile (NFC or QR) and then add this tile to his private analytics page. The UI of these web pages is currently being worked on and will feature a few cool features such as a heartbeat every 10 seconds or the color of the scanned tile, that gets pulled via some static, factory-decided data. This system is all up and running now, currently with one live hub and 7 tiles connected.

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What’s left is the callback mechanism plus the web ui. The callback mechanism will “call out” to external systems for each event reveived. So if a LiftEvent is received and a webhook is configured, we’ll send out a HTTP Post to the configured external service. I also plan to pull in the product details from YAAS, hybris’ on demand API offering.

14 - 1

 

 
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Tiles Update – we’ve added blinky blinky

Our project Tiles, little BLE-connected platforms for customer interaction tracking, is entering a project phase which allows me to blog and inform you a bit more. Since yesterday night, the Raspberry PI and Arduino in the hub uses one power source. This makes the overall design easier. We also have been working on a Raspberry PI B+ hat, using Eagle, to further optimize our design.

One visible change is also that it now blinks :-) The hub rotates an LED light to signal the BLE scanning process. It flashes once you liftup the product, well, the apple in this case.

IMG_20141126_204216

 

We’ve now also locked down the architecture and below is a rough sketch that should help understand it. Again, a quick summary below.

tiles technical architecture

  • “Tiles” are the wirelessly connected platforms. We use Punchthrough’s LightBlue Bean and remove the battery holder to make the platforms 8mm high. We still use CR2032 batteries, which gives us about 1 week battery life right now. We would get more, but I send our a MetaEvent every 10sec which is hard on the battery.
  • The “Hub” collects all data. It scans for tiles, continuously, and connects. The hub runs on the raspberry pi, uses a BLE dongle (choice is key here) and uses node.js for all programming. It sends on data to the server with CoAP – a UDP-based IoT protocol.
  • The “Server” collects all data for all hubs (yep, there can be many) and provides the necessary APIs for managing the User/Tile association, authentication and authorization (Oauth2 used here), etc.

One more thing – I’ve connected the server to Xively, a data logging platform. We collect mainly the battery rundown to estimate battery life and also the temperature values from the lightblue beans. At this point I just want to share some nice graphs to show you how much sense it makes to track that data. It will definitely help us to optimize the design / battery consumption further. Right now we stay optimized for demo purposes, but we can later reduce the events sent for example to get a better battery life.

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