Amway

Consumer

Complexity is no substitute for function. In some cases, it even diminishes it.

The same goes for mobile applications.

One of Amway’s environmental quality monitoring IoT devices was troubled with unstable Bluetooth connections. Compounding the problem was an unfriendly interface for field technicians to use. A set of utilities had previously been developed in LabView to run on a laptop, but Amway wanted a simple solution that would allow the tech to use a phone to perform the same operations.

DornerWorks engineers were able to locate and diagnose the Bluetooth bottleneck, and using a USB OTG UART connection instead, enabled faster data parsing and more reliable speed for users. A port of a Windows app flashes firmware updates via the UART, while the WiFi connectivity can be tested by using a mobile device.

The app was developed using the Xamarin framework in Visual Studio and C# and support multiple languages. A DornerWorks engineer developed a simple strings XML database lookup file that the app can access externally, allowing Amway techs to update translation strings (and other images or PDF links) separate from the app itself.

The app also uses a Xamarin plug-in that invokes the phone’s camera to allow for barcode scanning of the unit—the first step when creating a new report. The USB OTG UART interface works with Windows 10 and Android (though not iOS), and the Bluetooth functionality works on Android and iOS (though not Windows).

Step by step instructions included in the new app guide the user through required steps to put the device in certain modes or manually measure and input certain values to supplement automated readings. Technicians, meanwhile, are now able to save reports, or even email the results.

No longer do the technicians need to understand in every knob in the LabView interface. They can deploy diagnostic repairs faster and easier thanks to the time this update has saved them.

Amway Makes It Easier For Technicians To Get Their Work Done Effectively

Amway wanted a tool to help service technicians interface, diagnose, and repair issues with water purification devices connected to WiFi and Bluetooth.

Their initial mobile app design ran the user through various steps, with prompts to input and verify certain power readings. The Bluetooth pairing feature, meanwhile, forced the app to occupy a history slot on a phone’s list of paired devices. To that interface, a custom encryption protocol was built in, with a complicated key exchange.

It was both complex and not entirely reliable. Bluetooth connections would drop, rendering the app ineffective.

Approaching both issues with the goal of simplifying the application and making it easier to use, DornerWorks engineers outfitted the device with a USB OTG UART connection to read most of the data at a faster and more reliable speed. A port of a Windows app flashed firmware via the UART, and the WiFi connection made testable through a hotspot originating from the phone.

The app was developed using the Xamarin framework in Visual Studio and C# and support multiple languages. A DornerWorks engineer developed a simple strings XML database lookup file that the app can access externally, allowing Amway techs to update translation strings (and other images or PDF links) separate from the app itself.

The app also uses a Xamarin plug-in that invokes the phone’s camera to allow for barcode scanning of the unit—the first step when creating a new report. The USB OTG UART interface works with Windows 10 and Android (though not iOS), and the Bluetooth functionality works on Android and iOS (though not Windows).

Much to the delight of Amway technicians, they can now update the files without needing to rebuild the app: simply copy a zip file to the phone, run a command to point to the zip file, and it unpacks and reloads the assets dynamically.