IoT Button Roundup


What is an IoT Button?

An IoT button is a piece of hardware that sends data to the cloud when you press a button; a serverless application then takes an action or series of actions based on the information that is sent when the button is clicked.

What Can I do with an IoT Button?

Your serverless app can run a simple 1-task function, such as:

  • Send an email  
  • Send an SMS  

AWS’s One Click and IoT Button apps make it painless to set up serverless apps that perform seamlessly in the cloud

Create Serverless App Workflows

Your serverless app runs on a series of functions, which creates a workflow  

Common Example Workflow

Imagine that you are a representative for a wine distribution company

One of your customers is running low on stock between your regular visits.

The First Action:

In the stockroom, next to cases of a particular wine, a button tied to the SKU for that wine is positioned on the shelf. When the manager realizes the store is running low on stock, she presses the button – just 1-click!. The wine rep receives an email letting him know that the store is running low on stock for this item.

The rep knows all of the relevant information about the product: the SKU and the typical quantity this customer orders.

The Second Action:

An order is automatically placed in the distributor’s ordering system.

The Third Action:

An SMS is sent back to the customer letting them know the order has been placed and when it will ship.

Create Dynamic Serverless Apps

Using the Twilio API we can ask the customer, via a phone call, how many cases of wine they would like to order.


Demo

What About the Buttons?

Now that we have covered what buttons are and what they can do, let’s review the types of buttons out there.

Wi-Fi Buttons

If you are mainly going to be using your buttons in one place and have a wi-fi network available, the AWS Buttons might be a good bet for you.

AWS IoT Button

Use this button and the AWS ButtonDevApp to develop your serverless apps and test them with the button. You can let your users change the wi-fi Networks the buttons work on with the AWS IoT Button Wi-Fi App.

You can purchase this button from Amazon (Affiliate Link)

AWS Enterprise Button

Once you have developed and tested your Serverless apps, the AWS Enterprise Button is a great choice. It uses the AWS 1-Click infrastructure to keep track of and manage the buttons. The app, available from the Google Play store or Apple’s App store, allows you to easily claim a bunch of buttons at once and enable them.

You can purchase this button from Amazon (Affiliate Link)

Bluetooth Buttons

These buttons require a gateway or a device that captures the bluetooth signals from the buttons and transmits them over the Internet where they can initiate a server less app. You can learn more about gateways in our Bluetooth Gateway Roundup

LTE-M Buttons

The last category of buttons are those that register the button click using the special M2M networks provided by all of the cellular carriers. These devices are much, much cheaper then traditional cellular plans as they are intended for devices that send very small amounts of data.

The AT&T LTE-M Button

This is by far the easiest to set up of the M2M buttons. The button is supported by the AWS 1-Click Service; the cellular service is already included in the cost of this button.

https://marketplace.att.com

Estimote LTE-M Beacon

This product is meant for developers and works with the Estimote’s Events API. The unit runs javascript microapps on the device itself, and can call code for those apps from the cloud via the cellular network. In addition to the button functionality that is described earlier in this video, you can program this device to act as a GPS tracker or a BLE gateway.

You can purchase the Estimote LTE-M Beacon from their website

AT&T LTE-M Starter Kit

Your imagination is your only limit with this unit. Also meant for developers, it has several programmable buttons in addition to heat and humidity sensors as well as an on board accelerometer  You can also use expansion boards with this unit.

You can purchase this unit from AT&T’s IoT Store

Simplify Your Work Tasks with Help from Revolution11

Now that you have a pretty good idea of the varied and fascinating IoT products and services along with a better understanding of what these buttons are and what they can do — there’s bound to be a button for you! WIth so many ways of connecting to the cloud to run important IoT applications let Revolution11 get you started with any project, big or small. Ping us at inquiries@revolution11.com to get going today!

IoT Button Roundup

Utilizing Twilio and ThingSpeak API in IoT Applications

blog graphic

Rapid Systems Engineering Lets Your Devices Talk To You

Rapid Systems Engineering recently posted about how they combined our solution that utilizes Twilio to automatically send notifications with ThingSpeak API and Infrared Sensors to create automatic messaging and data collection whenever any motion is detected out in the field.

You can read about it here.

Utilizing Twilio and ThingSpeak API in IoT Applications

Introducing Twilio Labs…

Twilio_logo_red

Twilio Labs is where additional features for the Twilio core platform are published.

Twimlets

The projects accessed through Twilio Labs are called Twimlets.  Twimlets are small web applications that implement basic voice application functionality.  They are open source so you can modify Twimlets to suit your needs; they are also stateless so you can pass the URL parameters of execution in when you call them.

Using Twimlets

You can wire up a phone number to the URL of a Twimlet, and they can be combined with your own applications. Twimlets can also be chained based on what happens during their execution.

The Twimlets currently available are:

Forward

will forward a call to another phone number and can forward to a new URL if the call isn’t answered

Find Me

will ring up to 10 phone numbers in order until someone answers the call

Simulring

will dial 2-5 phone numbers simultaneously and the first person to answer is connected to the caller

Voicemail

will ask the user to leave a message and will email the audio recording to a specified email address

Simple Menu

will play a message for the caller and wait for them to press digits that will launch them to a new URL or twimlet based on their selection

Simple Message

will play one or more audio files, say one or more text blocks, or any combination of both

Call Me

a simpler version of Simulring or Find Me that only rings one number and will forward to another URL or Twimlet if no one answers

Echo

outputs TwiML passed in via the URL, which is useful for building completely stateless apps that place outbound calls

Conference

allows you to build a simple conference line

Hold Music

plays hold music indefinitely based on music stored in an S3 bucket

Twimlet Generator

Twilio Labs provides a Twimlet Generator where you can build up and test a Twimlet URL on the website.

Below is the Forward Twimlet Generator and its Configuration parameters using Twilio’s Try It Out! section found in each Twimlet example:

image003

Twilio Sample File in FileMaker

Within FileMaker, Twimlets can be utilized by HTTP requests and the “Insert From URL” function.  Revolution 11 developed a sample file to send text messages shown in the blog “Twilio Sample PHP & Instructions.” In this blog, we integrated the Hold Music Twimlet.

image006

By entering a phone number in the “To Phone Number” section and pressing Send SMS button, the phone number you entered receives this SMS text message:

image008.png

When we enter the phone number we want to reach and press “Call 1,” the phone number receives a call with music playing.

image010

image013

Download a PDF of this blog here: Introducing Twilio Labs…

Introducing Twilio Labs…

Twilio Sample PHP & Instructions

Welcome back to Part 2 of the Revolution11 – Twilio/FileMaker integration where we have fun with Twilio, the service that allows you to make and receive phone calls and text messages using its web service APIs. In Part 1, we went over using a simple HTTPS request to send an SMS message, including a media file. In this post we will drill down into each individual piece that makes this integration possible and help you find the pieces to build it.

Previously we talked about:

  1. Integrating Twilio and FileMaker
  2. The PHP web service for retrieving texts from Twilio’s server

Here is a screenshot of the Twilio Demo File

FileMakerTwilio

As you can see from the screenshot, a few fields need to be populated:

  • account_id
  • token
  • from_phone_number
  • to_phone_number
  • Message

These fields are used to populate the variables used in the script to send the SMS message.

This is what the FileMaker script code looks like:

FMScript

The script checks that the required fields are not empty and that the phone numbers are formatted properly. The $post variable is set using the variables named earlier in the script, which sends a request to Twilio’s API. Twilio’s API takes the data that you are passing through this transaction, validates your Twilio account, and sends the message out.

Pretty fancy! but what happens when someone replies to that SMS? We can handle the reply easily with just a touch of PHP. In our example we are sending the replies to the SMS straight to an email address.

md2

This PHP file is kept on your FileMaker server, with the standard web configuration turned on. In the example, we have used “Your file path” so you can configure the PHP file for your server.

The header and echo tags are basically telling our application that this is the type of data that we are going to be receiving from Twilio’s server.

The next portion is variable creation and assignment. For example:

  • The $to variable – where we are sending the response message once it’s retrieved from Twilio’s server
  • The $subject variable – The subject of the message
  • The $message – The actual message and,
  • The $headers variable – the person the email was sent from

The final section is an HTTP request method that will send the reply email.

You obviously don’t want to have to muck with the PHP files on your server every time you want to change the reply action to the outgoing SMS message, so stay tuned for a future Revolution11 blog post where we show you a few ways to get these preferences out of your FileMaker solution.

Get a PDF of this post: Twilio Sample PHP

Twilio Sample PHP & Instructions

Texting Clients Using Twilio

Twilio_logo_red

Twilio, a robust messaging software that offers a powerful instant messaging solution for companies large and small, works seamlessly with the FileMaker Platform to manage an otherwise roundabout method of contacting field staff and key partners. Read on to understand Twilio’s API and how Revolution11 integrates messaging features for our clients by utilizing a few simple PHP requests.

Understanding the Twilio API

Twilio is a cloud communications (IaaS) company that allows software developers to programmatically make and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages using its web service APIs. The services are accessed over HTTP and are billed based on usage. Twilio is a well-known player and has a large installed user base.

Twilio API and FileMaker

In the past year or so, there have been posts from FileMaker developers using the Twilio platform. Jeff England wrote a great post here: designingfilemaker.com

Colibri Solutions has a comprehensive post that goes over an integration strategy using SmartPill: colibrisolutions.com

Revolution11 recently developed a solution for a client that allowed them to send small audio/video and other files in addition to a text message via Twilio. Similar to the examples above we are using an HTTPS request and the Insert From URL script step in FileMaker.

How To Use Twilio

1. Sign up for a free Twilio account here: twilio.com.

2. Download the attached FileMaker Twilio Blog Sample.

3. Enter the Account ID, Token and Twilio phone number from your Twilio account in the corresponding fields in the demo file.

4. Add the mobile number you would like to send the SMS to in the “to_phone_number” field.

5. You can send audio or video by entering the URL of the media file in the media file field. It needs to be an unprotected site, you can use a public Google site to try the demo file. Read about the limitations on media here: twilio.com

The script in the demo file constructs an HTTPS request and sends it to the Twilio server, which processes the request sending an SMS using your Twilio phone number.

To Summarize

Digging into APIs such as the offerings from Twilio is well worth the effort. One script step and a carefully crafted HTTPS request can accomplish quite a bit once you understand the API. Stay tuned for a follow-up post where we will examine the Twilio API a little deeper and share some of our success stories.

Get PDF of this post: Twilio Sample File

Texting Clients Using Twilio

Integrate Messaging Into Your FileMaker Solution

Real-Life Situation

It’s Friday evening and you notice that one of your field reps has ordered the wrong part. You have limited time to make the correction and ensure that the part gets to the customer on time. No need to panic as you know your enterprise FileMaker solution incorporates SMS or text messaging, as part of its communications strategy and you can easily send a text message to the field rep, clear up the misunderstanding, and get the part on its way.

What if more than one field rep was having the same issue? You could try an email blast, but you know that won’t be effective on a Friday night. You may have an SMS group ready to go and you can send a mass message out to the reps, however the chances of that are slim. You may also need to send out an important file, video or audio message with that SMS and you don’t have time to compose messages one-by-one when you have an urgent situation.

Real-Life Solution

Integrating SMS into your enterprise solution solves these problems and offers a convenient, effective way to communicate with your staff. Chances are that you already have the sales reps cell phone numbers in your system, along with part numbers, brochures, photos and other pertinent business information. Sending any combination of these components out to the field from your system using SMS becomes a powerful tool to manage communication and relay critical information.

One of the important features of using this method is that it works with most carriers and phones, even with Robert, the rep who refuses to replace his flip phone. You also control what happens when replies come back from the outgoing messages; keeping the back and forth communication logged into the SMS provides a record and eliminates the need to open other apps on the phone.

In Conclusion

There is great potential for enterprise SMS solutions as highlighted by the rising popularity of SMS in communicating more effectively with staff, managing delivery receipts, sending alerts from airlines regarding delays and critical updates, tracking inventory and managing stock alerts, just to name a few of the many services that SMS provides to millions of users on a daily basis.

Get PDF of this post: SMS Improves Communication

 

Integrate Messaging Into Your FileMaker Solution