ibac_2

Alcoholmeter in your mobile phone

Background

In most developed countries alcohol is not only one of the most addictive legal drugs but also the third largest trigger for illnesses and accidents. This has led to a greater need for measuring the degree of sobriety.

Alcosystems is an innovation company based in Stockholm, Sweden, founded in 2007. Their mission is to provide accurate breathalyzers in a small attractive packaging and with mobile connectivity. Alcosystems is the patented solution for iBAC , which solved the challenge of high accuracy with a patented fuel cell technology. (More information about the company here)

iBAC’s alcoholmeter “Proven sober” is a device that lets it’s customers prove their sobriety to make responsible decision, especially when it comes to driving. With the size as small as a key (36g), the device fits in every pocket and can be a daily companion. (See live demonstration here)

Challenge

As a solution provider, Symbio started collaborating with Alcosystems in November 2012, when the customer wanted the breathalyzer to communicate results to the web cloud via mobile devices.

”It was critical to our business to build the cloud service to support iBAC. That way, we were able to grow into global markets. Thanks to the Azure cloud service, we didn’t need to build a local infrastructures to provide our service globally.” says Peter Wasmuth, iBAC Alcosystems AB sales manager.

Solution and Execution

Symbio recommended iBAC to partner with Windows Azure in order to build a sophisticated cloud. Patrik Carlander, enthusiastic Microsoft specialist and certified Azure architect, was appointed as the project architect.

Azure has many advantages and offered every feature iBAC was looking for – flexibility, scalability, approachability and security. Another advantage of using Azure was that it was easy to build in any future applications for modern mobile platforms like iOS, Android and BlackBerry OS.

When the collaboration started, the iBAC alcoholmeter user base of was comparatively small, but over time the end-user base grew exponentially. The overall idea was that the iBAC alcoholmeter connects to a mobile phone wirelessly, live-streaming the result when in use. GPS coordinates and the time of use are also stored in the cloud.

Use cases

Since all data will be stored in the cloud it is easy to also use the iBAC alcoholmeter for business purposes. All data can be transferred to a corporation’s IT server, and benefit companies such as cab, taxi, airline, public transport or health care. They now will be able to monitor their employee’s alcohol level. iBAC alcoholmeter is available for purchase for consumers and corporations in in Scandinavia, Germany, England, France and the United States.

Solution architecture

The apps are natively developed for iOS and Android.

The backend solution is quite simple, developed with Net 4.5.

•    Responsive web front developed uses ASP.NET MVC4 and Twitter Bootstrap.

•    RESTful Services was developed with MVC4 WebAPI.

•    Entity Framework 5.5

•    Server: Azure SQL
This is a global solution and scales well horizontally, it is easy to add a partition key based on user-ID’s and add scale with SQL Azure Federation or refactoring to use Azure Table Storage if necessary.

When it comes to security, Symbio used SSL, a basic authentication and an encrypted checksum based on posted data. To handle errors we used the logging framework ELMAH, easy to add to an ASP.NET MVC solution. The responsive web interface for the backend works well on both, mobile devices and computers and adapts to different screen resolutions.

Symbio has used the NuGet packages for Twitter Bootstrap, which makes it easy to transform a traditional MVC web GUI into a responsive web GUI. Techniques like ASP.NET MVC4, WebAPI and Azure Websites helped to develop mobile back-ends and it’s safe if the project starts to grow. Azure Websites solution can be hosted at very low cost, which suited our start-up customer well.

Learnings

1.     We learned that it is most important to keep the solution simple and seamless. (Tip: Don’t use Azure’s specific technology if you don’t need to.)

2.     It is beneficial to use the cloud for version control and as a test environment. Skype turned out to be a beneficial tool for internal communication and helped to collaborate between developers located in different countries.