North Star Systems is a hardware and software developer in Saskatchewan, Canada that manufactures Tattle Systems, a tool that supports business operations. Tattle Systems capabilities take technology to the next level. Real-time remote location, level, and data reporting define Tattle Systems. In our North Stars Systems Technology Tuesday series we will be exploring the business, culture, and impact of the technology industry. In our latest article, North Star Systems shares our thoughts on the big statement that IoT can do anything!

Building IoT systems for their most critical component

Does anyone out there know what an accelerometer is and how to connect it to a wireless transmitter to communicate via Bluetooth, WiFi and cellular to the cloud using SSL 256bit encryption? Anyone? (Carl, put your hand down; we all know you work in IT.) The nuts and bolts of Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) are technically complex, demanding a high level of specialized knowledge to design, build, and connect. But most people actually using IoT systems aren’t particularly technically savvy. IoT (and its non-industrial cousin, IoT) connects devices such as computers, sensors and actuators into a powerful, integrated web. The possibilities are endless: heat and motion sensors; appliances, valves, switches, fluid level and temperature sensors; desktop, tablet, and smartphone computers can all be IoT devices.But common to all IoT systems is the critical, decision-making, flesh-and-blood component: the human operator. And humans don’t talk the same language as the rest of the system. Decades ago, computers were the tools of scientists and technicians. They put in the time learning the intricacies of programming and computer code. They learned the language of computers. That learning curve was a steep one, demanding hundreds of hours. That changed when a few innovators decided to flip the paradigm: why not teach computers the language of humans? Make computers easier to use, and more people will use them, the reasoning went.Engineers and programmers got to work integrating the “human component” into their systems. They used graphics, layout, and icons to take advantage of how the human mind works, creating the first graphical user interfaces (GUI). These were new. Using a novel input device – the mouse – human users could now simply point to what they wanted on the screen rather than memorize an arcane set of keyboard commands. Of course, GUIs are now ubiquitous and it’s hard to imagine life without them (ask Carl to show you what a UNIX ed command line looks like sometime). Input devices now include not only keyboards, mouses, and styluses, but our own fingers on touchscreens. Computers now seamlessly talk our language. For IoT, this means the human operator – the master decision maker – can now be integrated easily into the system.IoT systems can – and should – do some things on their own. For example, if a tank sensor shows a sudden loss of pressure in a fertilizer tank or drop in level in a fuel tank in the middle of the night, the system should be able to automatically shut the necessary IoT-enabled valves. It should also be able to send an alarm to the sleeping human operator’s bedside smartphone. But when that operator awakes, he or she must be able to assess the situation at a glance, make the necessary decisions, and instruct the system accordingly. That means a well-designed, intuitive user interface.User interface design is integral to all North Star Systems solutions, whether it is an off-the-shelf TATTLE system for stationary and mobile tank monitoring, or a custom-built IoT solution specific to a customer’s specific needs and vision. Familiar tools such as iOS and Android apps for smartphones and tablets and web tools for computers are used to shorten the learning curve. Systems provide real-time reporting via text message and email. Webinar-based training brings operators up to speed efficiently, at a pace dictated by the user.North Star Systems developers are constantly looking at ways to build useful capacity into IoT systems. GPS systems can be used not only to locate that leaking tank, but to recommend the best route to get a maintenance team on site. The same user interface can also tap into weather channels to prepare the team for current conditions.Some developer tools are included with North Star Systems IoT solutions, but sometimes imagination exceeds what’s provided off-the-shelf. When that happens, give us a call. We’d love to help develop your ideas together. READ MORE TECHNOLOGY TUESDAY ARTICLES HERE – North Star Systems leads in the creation of innovative technology, including the Industrial Internet of Things. We pride ourselves on outstanding service and our TATTLE Products provide solutions to streamline the operations of your business.If you would like to know more about how North Star Tattle Systems can help you reach out to our team today