Case Studies - Animaware

IoT Portable Temperature Warning System for Animals

AWS-IoT-Software
Software Developers

1 developer, 1 manager

Software Technologies

Amazon Web Services, IoT, MQTT

Animaware was founded in 2011 to develop a unique product to protect dogs and other pets from the dangers of temperature extremes. The product, AnimAlarm, is a portable and easy-to-use thermal warning system.

The system sends alerts via text message and email about high and low temperatures that might affect animal welfare, with the range being customisable via an online web portal.

Whilst AnimAlarm is already successfully sold to end-users, including the Police and other organisations worldwide, the company needed a new development partner to enable the device to be used in the U.S market.

Blueberry suggested a new temperature warning system for animals that was built using IoT and Amazon Web Services technology.

The Requirements

The barrier to operating in the US was that SMSs originating from numbers outside of the US are frequently barred or ignored, often considered as spam. To ensure receipt, the display unit must send SMS messages from an 01 international code, which requires the installation of a US SIM or equivalent. Unfortunately, it is difficult to source US SIMs on a reasonable commercial basis.

To resolve the issue and at the same time enhance the system, it was proposed that a web-based UI be developed for both users and system administrators to manage the system, together with IoT connectivity allowing users to receive notifications on their phones from a genuine 01 international number.

The original system comprised a battery-powered hardware monitor designed around an Atmel microcontroller and an off-the-shelf Android phone working as a display unit running a custom app at all times. The monitor sent temperature readings to the phone/display in the driver compartment, which in turn sent notifications via SMS to external mobile phones according to set alarm values.

Our Solution

Blueberry’s solution was to change the AnimAlarm software on the display unit to communicate via IoT using AmazonIoT and Lambda – i.e. to abandon direct sending of SMS from the display unit. For AnimAlarm, the data transfer requirements and the load on the server were likely to be very low, even with a few hundred devices sending temperature updates every minute.

Blueberry modified the Android software to send messages to the server in a reliable way, using Amazon’s IOT and MQTT technologies. The messages are then processed using AWS Lambda technology, which allows the customer to run verification services with maximum reliability and without a server (which might have downtime).

A central database stores the details for every AnimAlarm account configuration. Configuration is written into this database by the Web Server, and read from the database by the processing code.

The Results

The new architecture now allows multiple possibilities for Animaware:

  1. The Server can send SMS messages to owners’ mobiles using an online SMS sending service such as Twilio – these services support sending messages with 01 international codes.
  2. The Server can also send messages via email.
  3. An online portal allows users to:

– Set temperature limits for an individual sensor.

– Manage multiple sensors.

– Obtain latest temperature and battery levels.

– Add “friends and family” mobile numbers to subscribe to alerts.

– Change user preferences.