Bluetooth-based Remote Control App for Outdoor Lights

Manages Multiple Light Locations, Stores Custom Settings For Each User

  • Xamarin iOS
  • Xamarin Android
  • Google Firebase
  • Atlassian Jira
Solution Bluetooth-based remote control app for outdoor lights
Industry Consumer Electronics
Engagement model Fixed price
Methodology Scrum
Team
  • Business Analyst
  • Xamarin Developer
  • QA Engineer
  • Project Manager
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Cutomer

Problem

The customer manufactures and markets outdoor lights for commercial and private spaces. The lights have an RGBW capability—an LCD display technology that uses four subpixels (red, green, blue, and white).

The lights are controlled by an RF remote control. To allow users greater control and functionality compared to the RF remote capabilities, the customer wanted to create a BLE-enabled mobile application, which would link a smartphone to a string light. The client expected the service provider to have relevant hands-on mobile app building skills.

Solution

Softeq created a mobile app to be used as a remote control for managing the colorful outdoor string lights. The app connects to the string’s controller via Bluetooth and allows the user to manage multiple parameters:

  • Different lighting modes
  • Color temperature
  • Flashing effects
  • Timers for automatic turn-off, etc. 

The connection between the lights and the app is encrypted with a PIN. Additionally, users enter the PIN to manage particular functions, such as disabling individual bulbs from the string light or deleting the string.  

Application Functionality:

  • Manages multiple light locations, e.g., Backyard
  • Detects available garlands
  • Manages light strings (single strings or groups, e.g., Backyard Group: Patio, Pergola, Porch) 
  • Supports on/off scheduling
  • Selecting color combinations
  • Selecting lighting modes, e.g. Solid, Pulse, Twinkle
  • Creating custom lighting modes
  • Supports black-out of selected bulbs

Security

The solution leverages the authorization mechanism provided by the Google Firebase platform – the user must first log into his/her account to proceed to the app. The app communicates with the lights string over a PIN-secured channel using Bluetooth.

Challenge

The hardware and firmware for the lighting were developed by a contract manufacturer in China. The team had to adapt the development schedule to the availability of the hardware and firmware components.

The initial idea was to store the configuration of the lights and user profiles on the lighting device’s flash memory. However, the vendor could not entirely implement this capability. The device memory can only store either the current lighting mode, or a select color and event timer, or several lighting schedules. The team suggested using the Google Firebase platform to be able to store the user data on the server. The platform can also synchronize the data with the device while the Internet connection is on. If the string light is used in an Internet free zone, the user will be able to control the settings thanks to the offline mode availability. When the Internet is back, the changes will be synced to the Firebase server.

Results

Further plans included ensuring the compatibility and manageability of other customer’s electronic products with the updated string lights version.