Connected smart home heating, energy and maintenance IoT device for housing associations


Established in 2015 by INSEAD students, Switchee was born from a vision to enhance living conditions in rented homes. Their innovative solution, a smart thermostat tailored for landlords, offers real-time insights to optimise energy costs. Switchee's reach is extensive, having collaborations with over 100 social housing providers in the UK and the Netherlands.

The Challenge

The core vision of Switchee extended beyond just creating a smart device. It was about bestowing housing associations with a powerful tool to seamlessly manage and communicate with these smart thermostats. With devices designed to intuitively adjust to household energy patterns, the underlying challenge was architecting a backend software system robust enough to extract the device's full potential. Not least it was also able to display key messages and communication on screen that can be pushed from the portal and form a key communication hub for the home.  Furthermore using the on device sensors it could detect occupancy, temperature, condensation and alert teams to mould and potential damp issues.

Technical challenges

  • Managing many devices and performing maintenance without physical access.
  • Over the air software and firmware updates.
  • Handling network failures - packet loss or corrupted files through network outages and being able to recover without maintenance.
  • Defining a secure communication protocol and api.
  • Marking a seamless self discovery and handshake process so new devices are easy to install and register in a management cloud system.
  • Connecting to third party services for weather updates - for useful information but also for more accurate thermostat and heating control.
  • Software to read sensor data and communicate with the cloud system so logs and data can be analysed in real time.
  • Building heuristics & machine learning to correctly determine heating profiles.
  • Automatic network connection via onboard SIM cards. Managing SIM cards and usage through the Switchee cloud portal.
  • Developing the cloud portal and API in collaboration with Cubik and Switchee.
The Solution

Newicon's approach incorporated our standard, proven Agile architecture phase. We took on the intricacies of this IoT project and handled the process of developing an API to enable the simultaneous connection and management of devices.

Key areas of development

  • API Development: We collaborated closely with Switchee to craft the communication API, a bridge between the physical device and the cloud. This API manages the many nuances of IoT, such as software updates, firmware management, and device self-registration. This included a protocol with ACK /NACK messaging as well as a REST based protocol so both the cloud and physical device remained in sync.
  • Device Communication: Each Switchee device contains a SIM card, ensuring instant connectivity. This eliminated the need for manual WiFi setups. Our team developed a protocol allowing these devices to communicate with the cloud, streamlining device activation and management.
  • Advanced Portal: An advanced management portal was built. Here, administrators could oversee the entire "fleet" of devices, sorted into building blocks and estates for efficient management. The portal featured capabilities like broadcasting messages to specific devices and deploying firmware updates, as well as processing the logs and real time information.
  • Integration and Collaboration: While Newicon was responsible for key developments, the project was a collaborative effort. We worked hand-in-hand with Switchee's team and other partners from The Product Partnership, Realise Design, and Cubik Innovation, ensuring every aspect of the project was managed and collaborated on in the most efficient way. Newicon designed the information exchange and protocol (API for the cloud platform) and also the embedded software in collaboration with Cubik, as well as deployed the cloud portal and build the web based software and database.
The Result

Our technology partnership enabled Switchee Ltd to roll out their smart thermostat solution with confidence. Housing associations utilising the Switchee device now wield a cutting-edge backend system, facilitating easy management, monitoring, and updating of devices. Switchee Ltd's delivery to the social housing sector is now both cost-effective and technologically advanced.

For more information on the Switchee device visit:https://www.switchee.com/


Three of "The Product Partnership" companies collaborated on this impactful project, showcasing the collective expertise this partnership brings to IoT initiatives.

Find out more about TPP here: https://productpartnership.co.uk/

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