Coffee IT: Key lessons learned from successful IoT app development projects

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According to the most recent report from IoT Analytics, the number of global IoT connections grew by 18% in 2022, to 14.3 billion active IoT endpoints. By the end of 2023, the research firm expects the number of connected IoT devices globally to move up a further 16%.

In short, if you are not yet exploring an IoT app development strategy and taking advantage of these connections, then you need to start now. Ahead of their participation at IoT Tech Expo Europe, IoT News spoke with Fabian Giger, chief commercial officer at IoT app developer Coffee IT, to discuss key lessons learned from developing various client applications and examples of strong, strategic projects.

What is the history of Coffee IT as a company? How was it founded?

Coffee IT was founded nine years ago in a student house, determined on building apps the three founders started working for clients. One of them being ClearVox that needed a VoIP app. The ball started rolling and a couple of years later, in-lite joined as a client. They needed an app to control garden lightning through Bluetooth, a Bluetooth Mesh network was created (at that time Bluetooth Meshing wasn’t a thing yet). Nowadays, Coffee IT is forty employees strong and can handle the whole spectrum. Launching an app, from concepting and designing to developing and marketing. With a focus on IoT projects to improve lives, Coffee IT is ready for the next thing!

What are the main attributes of Coffee IT, what makes you stand out from your competitors?

The projects that we love doing combine hardware and mobile apps, we like working with physical devices in the real world. It’s also where we shine, we like to think that we’re very good at this. Especially if there is a technical challenge involved, where we know that things will be difficult to get done and working. As we don’t develop hardware (yet) we like to work together with hardware engineers to make sure our apps end up in the user’s hands as seamless as possible.

Give an example of a case study where you developed an IoT app. What problem did it solve, what was the brief, what was the result, what was the client response?

As frequent airline travellers, having to stand in line to drop off luggage is tiresome and for an airline printing a luggage-tag is bad for the environment. These were the problems that BAGTAG wanted to solve, with a convenient device and app for both travellers and airlines. That’s where the BAGTAG luggage tag comes in, an e-ink tag which displays a barcode that can be scanned by airlines. Users can check-in their luggage and easily drop it off without having to stand in line or worry where their luggage is, as they can follow it in the app.

The app uses NFC (near field communication) to write data to the tag, that way no battery is needed. Next to the app we developed an SDK that airlines can use in their own app, that has been released in more than 10 airlines such as KLM, Air France, Lufthansa, Qatar Airlines, and many more. With so many airlines already on board and many more following, the client is very happy with the result. Together with the client, we keep developing new features for the app and the SDK to make things even easier for the end user.

What are the key lessons that Coffee IT has learned after developing multiple IoT apps, both from the client perspective and the business perspective?

We actually wrote a whitepaper on this exact question, our main takeaway is having a test/dev-kit ready as soon as you possibly can. To help software developers for your hardware, it’s quite essential to give them a dev-kit while your soldering work is still cooling down. The earlier the better, that way the software developer can start creating a POC (Proof of Concept) on one platform (either iOS or Android) to explore if everything that was envisioned is possible. At this stage it’s still easy to make changes to the hardware, firmware or API. As soon as the POC is complete, the hardware and software is both ready to take it to the next level, UX and design of the actual user-facing app.

What is the most interesting/exciting IoT app use case right now in your opinion and why?

We are very excited about transportation and how apps can help make things smarter, more efficient or more fun. If it’s a luxury yacht where you can turn on the air conditioner from your home or get the most efficient route for your electric car. There are so many more use cases which makes this area very interesting. How cool would it be to make traffic jams a thing of the past with the help of apps?

What will you be doing at the IoT Tech Expo event and what do you expect people will be talking about?

We are at booth 209 and as our name is Coffee IT, we’re making freshly brewed coffee! And of course we’re really eager to talk about apps that can connect to hardware devices. We expect people to be talking about our coffee of course! And next to that, AI will be a popular topic as well as security. As the EU regulates (more) tight security rules (and rightly so), it will be a very interesting topic to get data from one side to the other without leaks.

Editor’s note: You can download the full IoT app development whitepaper here.

Photo by Fahmi Fakhrudin on Unsplash

Want to learn about the IoT from industry leaders? Check out IoT Tech Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London.

Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

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