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How to expand a smart product by adding digital services

What happens if you bring digital services and a physical product together? In a bid to answer this question and show both the benefits and the technological implications of such an approach in practice, Sirris developed a demonstration tool based on an existing smart product, namely US firm iRobot's Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner.
  • By expanding an existing product with the addition of digital services, Sirris wanted to demonstrate the potential of 'digital servitization'.
  • A Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner manufactured by iRobot Corporation was wirelessly connected to a cloud environment with a variety of software applications.
  • The outcome was a demonstration tool inspiring companies to think about their own ambitions in the field of servitization.

 

Sirris used US tech company iRobot's Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner as a basis when developing a demonstration tool.

The Roomba demonstrator quickly gives companies wanting to expand their products by adding digital services an understanding of the opportunities and stumbling blocks involved

Servitization in practice

Imagine that a physical product is connected to the cloud. In this way users could have single-click access to a range of online services, including helpdesk services and dashboard monitoring. On paper such digital servitization offers a lot of benefits. For one, it reduces the cost of the existing services in terms of commissioning, support, and recovery. For another, new subscription services can be linked to the product. And that's even before we started talking about other innovative product features, such as smart user interfaces, remote operation and others. In this light, Sirris decided to develop a demonstration tool to showcase these benefits in practice.

From an autonomous robot to a connected robot with digital services

We used an existing smart product, called Roomba, as our basis for this. This robotic vacuum cleaner, manufactured by iRobot, uses sensor technology to detect stains for itself, circumnavigate obstacles, and avoid being a trip hazard. We fitted Roomba with a wireless connection to a cloud environment and integrated a number of available software applications, including a helpdesk ticket service, an online payment gateway, and an analytics tool for usage data...

Gaining an understanding

With the digital Roomba upgrade companies can quickly gain an understanding of how they can expand a product by adding digital services, the potential this offers, and the challenges it poses. A major challenge for the Roomba demonstrator was, for example, the end-to-end integration of the various features. These along with many other lessons Sirris learned from the demonstration tool provide a sound knowledge base for companies wanting to make their way to digital servitization.

 

This demonstrator was developped in the context of the icity.brussels project, an initiative of ULB, VUB and Sirris, subsidised by ERDF and Innoviris, which is fully dedicated to strengthening research and innovation in ICT in the Brussels Region.