Crowdsourced machine status reporting

April 12, 2016 // By Julien Happich
Enterprise IoT solutions provider ContinuumBridge has launched Spur, a call-to-action device and service that tricks consumers into reporting machine status to their host.

Aimed at service providers in the facilities management, retail, leisure and hospitality industries, the battery-powered Spur feedback button can be stuck on any "dumb" legacy equipment to upgrade it with an extra menu, prompting users to request attention, a service or to report a fault if for example a machine is not working. Via its built-in 868MHz radio, the Spur button communicates the request to a nearby gateway bridge (plugged into a power outlet) which itself transmits the data to a server via its cellular modem.

In some of the examples put forward by ContinuumBridge for its product launch, the only real service offered to customers is to gratify their reporting action with an acknowledgement message in exchange for them acting as a cheap M2M communication upgrade. Installed by a coffee machine, the display could say, “Push here if this machine requires more coffee” and then after pressing the button the display could change to say, “More coffee for this machine has been requested”. In other scenarios, the button enables status reporting for office equipment (printers or photocopiers out of toner) or washroom facilities (if for they need cleaning).

Other sets of menus could call for a more direct customer service, for example, requesting waiter attention or asking for the bill in a restaurant, and later on rating the customer experience.

For the service providers, the smart button is marketed as a way to automate the service process, allegedly turning customers' input into cost-savings, since it allows staff to focus on responding to the end-user and avoids time spent checking for issues. They can access the server through a fully programmable but easy to use web portal that is designed to help them solve problems. It provides comprehensive reporting available through the web site or via email, SMS or data-sharing with a third party database.

Such crowdsourced machine status reporting data may eventually give them more insight on the best