After recognizing the growing importance of data collection and management to corporations of all sizes, Azhar Hussain, founder and CEO of Hanhaa, Ltd., sought to develop an IoT solution that would eliminate any technical barriers to entry for prospective users and allow for direct out-of-the-box operation. Because he identifies practicality, rather than finances or limited technology, as the most substantial impediment to a company's general efficiency, Hussain emphasized the need for a product that a user could simply power on and immediately achieve full functionality.
Following the development of a working prototype, the team at Hanhaa was ready to introduce the world to Symbisa. The device is equipped with five sensors capable of tracking location, light, temperature, humidity, and movement, and also features a GSM quad band module for communications. With the ability to be deployed nearly anywhere in the world and transmit data over Hanhaa's own private mobile network, Symbisa provides an attractive solution for individuals seeking efficient and secure access to data.
Once activated, data captured by the device is automatically loaded into the user's preconfigured Microsoft Excel spreadsheet using a special plugin. The user can then easily share this data as an email attachment and it will be immediately refreshed when the attachment is opened by the recipient.
Hussain credits the ubiquity of Microsoft Excel as a primary reason for Symbisa's appeal to customers who might not have technical backgrounds. Utilizing a well-known platform such as Excel is a way of empowering users to interact with data within an environment that is already familiar, thereby contributing to the product's overall ease of use. Hussain explains that users can easily "link in other data sources or create their own template and send templates out to people" who can then "fill in the name of a specific Symbisa device and the entire template will be instantly populated with all of the information that they need."
Speaking to the effective integration of Excel within Symbisa, a representative from Microsoft's Office 365 Ecosystem team recalls being impressed by Symbisa's ability to "bring live data into Excel that you could analyze or consume in all kinds of ways that we might not even imagine." When Hussain approached Microsoft seeking resources that would allow him to upgrade his product, the Office 365 team immediately saw potential in Symbisa and offered him engineering support amongst other resources that, according to Microsoft, helped the Hanhaa team "build a modern add-in that worked with Office 365, that worked with Excel, that worked across platforms, and really looked like it was integrated into the Excel experience in an elegant way."
During the development process, Hussain shared that his team faced challenges regarding connectivity and security. Rather than utilizing a Wi-Fi connection to transmit data, the team ultimately decided to equip Symbisa with a mobile connection, with Hanhaa serving as its own mobile operator. Hussain notes that by "taking the devices off the public IP network, they are not publicly accessible, and that really helps increase the security and minimize the risk of hacking." While Symbisa devices presently utilize 2G cellular technology, Hussain is excited about the prospect of transitioning the devices to 5G mobile services in the future.
Additionally, Hanhaa forged a working relationship with Premier Farnell, Avnet, and TE Connectivity early on in the company's development, which Hussain mentions was crucial in terms of "developing, modifying, and fixing Symbisa and helping the product come to market." The connection with Microsoft further augmented Symbisa's accessibility and proved to be an essential component of the product's success.
Hari Kalyanaraman, Global Head of Emerging Businesses at element14, shares Hussain's excitement regarding the limitless possibilities that Symbisa offers. He explains, "By combining sensing capabilities with a global mobile network, Symbisa offers a secure IoT solution that can be rapidly deployed. The ability to stream data in real-time from Symbisa into Microsoft Excel lowers the barrier to entry for IoT applications. We are seeing effective real-world applications from environmental monitoring to freight tracking, and are excited to collaborate with Hanhaa and Microsoft and bring Symbisa to market."
According to Hussain, Symbisa is well-positioned to improve upon the data capture methods currently employed by both individuals and large corporations. As a low-cost and intuitive IoT device, "Symbisa empowers users to quickly and easily measure, capture, and analyze their world," offering immediate solutions to problems that previously required far more labor-intensive processes. Whether it's used to track the shipment of valuable merchandise, monitor the humidity of a museum display case, or establish a comfortable temperature within the home, Symbisa offers an endless possibility of applications that can be customized and adapted to meet any need.
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