Case study: Sophisticated IoT platform for billions of connected fridges

The challenge

A meal subscription provider decided to extend their services with intelligent connected fridges to supply office staff with fresh food and nutritious snacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They developed an MVP version that quickly proved popular with companies seeking to ensure their employees get fresh and healthy lunches while respecting social distance and limiting human-to-human contacts, Report by Sergiy Seletskyi, IoT practice leader and senior solution architect at Intellias

Once a small German start-up, our client is now a global provider operating in Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia. To keep their expansion pace, the company decided to speed up the development of a fully operational IoT platform for smart fridges and release the product into mass production as soon as possible.

The new IoT platform had to be highly scalable, support enriched functionality, and provide system optimisations. To make up for the lack of development capacity and keep up with the time constraints, the meal kit provider teamed up with Intellias to tap into our experience in delivering similar solutions.

The solution

Having addressed our client’s high requirements for skills and qualifications of engineers, Intellias set up an experienced development team proficient in the technology stack for cloud, web, mobile, and IoT solutions. Now, we are working on the next version of the smart fridges software, which should replace the existing version and enable the network of hundreds of thousands of Internet of Things (IoT)-powered vending machines.

All refrigerators are equipped with a tablet, a camera, and a set of sensors that monitor the device’s condition and contents. Also, an NFC/Pay Pass reader accepting Visa, MasterCard, Google Pay, and Apple Pay is installed in each fridge to enable self-checkout.

Users can select a subscription plan through an app, choose meals, and personalise their orders to match their lifestyles, tastes, and dietary needs. The incorporated artificial intelligence (AI)-powered recommendation engine suggests tailored menus based on user preferences. Users open the fridge with the mobile app, get a pre-ordered meal kit, and enjoy their meals.

The deployment

Besides implementing firmware for connected fridges, we’re integrating AI algorithms into the system to enable personalised menu suggestions. My teammates are developing an on-board application that collects sensor data and information on payment processing and user interactions. Via the MQTT protocol, all data is then transferred to Azure IoT Hub. The microservice platform on the back end processes this data and provides APIs for user applications.

Our responsibilities include configuring communication between devices, developing frontend and back-end components, and building web and mobile apps. The team is also working on extending the system’s functionality, such as self-service device support, over-the-air updates, pricing policy compliance, reimbursement options, and security certificate renewal. We’re gradually increasing the infrastructure resiliency so the system’s sophisticated architecture will allow for automatic scaling and enable the connection of millions of IoT devices.

The result

With the high-tech smart fridge solution powered by IoT, the meal subscription provider can meet the demand for food delivery services, which has spiked during the pandemic. Our client continues to invest in the technology to provide a strong response to food insecurity worldwide by minimising disruptions in the food supply chain and maintaining safe-catering services during these challenging times and beyond.

The smart fridges solution allows our client to expand their market presence faster and gives the company a competitive advantage over other food delivery service providers. My team’s contribution streamlines the launch of the production version of the catering application. Being a powerful tool for boosting employee motivation, productivity, and loyalty, this app is quickly becoming popular among companies, seeking to offer their employees easy access to fresh and nutritious food at the office.

Report by Sergiy Seletskyi, IoT practice leader and senior solution architect at Intellias.

About the author

Sergiy Seletskyi, isIoT practice leader and senior solution architect at Intellias. Sergiy helps companies harness the right IoT technology stack to scale business and make it future-proof. Strategic thinker with extensive knowledge of the IT Industry in a wide variety of innovative solutions for different business domains.

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