You are an entrepreneur. You have a great idea for a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) product and hardware, but no idea about the fastest way to get it PAYG-ready. You also don’t have servers to monitor and control your new PAYG devices, nor the time to setup the whole chain. Business is calling! What could help you quickly prototype your idea?
Here is where AirLink comes in — by simply downloading an Android app, you get access to full PAYG controls for your hardware using BluetoothⓇ. The app is backed by a modern IoT server hosted by The EnAccess Foundation, uses a documented protocol designed for interoperability, and has an open source repository on GitHub. So you get not just the app but also source code, and you start building the experience you had in mind… just like that, you’re on already your way to kicking off your PAYG product.
My colleagues and I developed AirLink at Simusolar — a productive use equipment servicer — in partnership with The EnAccess Foundation for the simple purpose of breaking IoT PAYG Control free of hardware barriers and ushering it into the smartphone realm. Connecting your PAYG hardware to the cloud now only requires that it talks BluetoothⓇ! No connectors to worry about, no servers to setup, no SIM cards to worry about, nor special hardware to integrate. As soon as the BluetoothⓇ characteristics of the hardware match AirLink, data starts flowing between the device and the server via the smartphone. Use existing, commonly used profiles such as “Battery” or “Energy Consumer”, or make up your own just as easily. Build data-augmented customer experiences using the smartphone.
Our PAYG protocol is designed to extend interoperability beyond wires with a shallow adoption curve, and is easily implemented on any BluetoothⓇ 5.0+ hardware. Manufacturers can design for AirLink just by designing for BluetoothⓇ, and the app acts as a test companion to ensure AirLink compliance. AirLink itself is based on robust, low data interoperability concepts such as the OCF and CBOR. Utilising a seamless wireless standard was important to our vision of bringing the adoption difficulty down for the entrepreneur while making the client experience even simpler than driving a BluetoothⓇ speaker.
AirLink also comes bundled with standard PAYG security, with Nexus Keycodein the first release and plans to also include the OpenPAYGO Token. Additionally, AirLink makes the token-transfer seamless without requiring a remote control, so the client doesn’t have to worry about inputting the token code. The phone acts as an automated remote control and uses minimal data to get tokens from the server and update the client’s devices that are nearby.
As an important side-benefit of adopting BluetoothⓇ, AirLink enables crowd-sourced device security by anonymously detecting device locations and reporting them to the server, allowing for authorised viewers to find lost or stolen hardware. This type of personalised asset security is unheard of in the PAYG world, and frequently requested by our customers.
The advantage of having a device connected via BluetoothⓇ is that IoT data streams come standard with AirLink, so you can make every device data-enabled without a host of additional connectivity and data-storage/processing efforts, and everything neatly flows to the AirLink server in a manner that allows different types of devices to store different kinds of data without additional configuration.
Building AirLink has pushed us at Simusolar to think beyond our realm of control, be open to ideas and standards that required more effort to build but in turn made our solution more robust / scalable, and most importantly, participate in the technology-for-development community with our own stake in the ground. We believe that there is a potential-multiplier effect when protocols and back-end infrastructures are standardised and made available right at the get-go to a technology entrepreneur, and we are excited to see how AirLink adopters can leverage this work to move beyond the initial technology hurdles of PAYG products.
In fact, all products that Simusolar sells, finances and supports will come standard with AirLink, which will enable another business looking to sell productive-use PAYG equipment to quickly adopt our entire line of products into their AirLink compatible PAYG business.
We will continue to collaborate with EnAccess to build a community around AirLink by making adoption easier, engaging with loan-software providers, hardware providers as well as distributors to connect their services and products with AirLink and participate in making the road to PAYG entrepreneurship just a little less bumpy.
I am proud of our work on AirLink, and I invite you to head on over to the landing page to access FREE TO USE materials!
Vaibhav Vaidya | CTO, Simusolar Inc