The Flexfy project, realised through the agile collaboration of DAW, Sotec GmbH and the Public Cloud Group (PCG), has produced the prototype for a pioneering smart home product. Magnetic walls, which also serve as power conductors, make it possible to install electronic media without cables and arrange them flexibly on the wall. The unique combination of cloud native development and proprietary hardware highlights Flexfy as an incubator for digital business models within DAW and promises innovation in the smart home market.
The DAW group of companies, an established Hessian family business in its fifth generation, is the largest private manufacturer of building paints and thermal insulation in Europe. With a clear focus on innovation and sustainability, DAW develops, produces and sells coating systems under the Caparol and Alpina brands, among others. The Flexfy project marks an important step into the digital world within DAW and demonstrates the innovative spirit of a company steeped in tradition.
Greenfield - the path from innovative vision to smart reality
Placing a lamp, a screen or a loudspeaker simply and wirelessly at any position on the wall, controlling it easily via app and thus making the redesign of rooms easier than ever before - without tradesmen, waiting time, dirt and noise - that is the idea behind Flexfy.
The vision: Flexfy applications transform every room into a smart multifunctional talent that can be customised to suit all wishes and needs.
The challenge: Turning the ground-breaking vision into reality.
For the DAW group of companies, which had previously relied mainly on analogue products, the addition of this electronic and digital project meant rethinking and adapting to new technological requirements. Together with the project partners PCG and Sotec, it was necessary to build up comprehensive expertise in this area and to work out which technologies had to be used in order to realise Flexfy.
"We had little experience with digital or electronic products and were therefore initially able to describe our idea, but not our specific requirements," explains Anja Schöpfer, Business Development Manager at DAW. "The biggest challenge for our technology partners and us was therefore to find out what was needed to turn our vision into reality. The first step was therefore to implement a prototype." This put PCG's cloud native Development Unit in charge of understanding the Flexfy team's vision and, based on this, providing comprehensive advice and designing and developing the right solution.
It was particularly important to take the perspective of the end user and design an application that was easily accessible from the outset, even for non-technical users.
For the prototype, a completely new ecosystem and a suitable infrastructure had to be created. In order to fully utilise all ideas and possibilities, it was decided not to use existing smart home platforms.
Time was a decisive factor in the realisation of the FLXFY prototype. Both the hardware and the software, including the smartphone app, had to be ready for use within two months.
The synergy of cloud native development and hardware innovation
PCG was dedicated to developing an intelligent application capable of controlling various media on the wall. At the same time, Sotec worked with full commitment to realise the required hardware for Flexfy in record time. In addition, it was made possible to virtually link several Flexfy walls via an IoT gateway based on an embedded controller to create comprehensive networking of the media. The solution was realised via Matter, which opens up the opportunity for Flexfy to interact with other smart home devices and IoT platforms from other providers in the future.
The design of the application was carefully crafted and seamlessly integrated into the overall concept. With a human-centred design approach, it was possible to create an intuitive user interface for both the physical wall and the control via the app, which makes using the product an experience.
This extremely efficient collaboration between cloud development, UI/UX, hardware development and product design led to the rapid development of a functional prototype.
Right from the start, the project relied on a modern, cloud native architecture based on Microsoft Azure. The architecture scores points for its scalability and can therefore cope with increasing user numbers, while it also offers the necessary degree of flexibility to meet new requirements and innovative functions with the necessary development speed in the future.
The prototype already benefits from this technical foundation and could be delivered in a short time with all the requirements placed on it.
The team succeeded in developing a physical product that visualises the diverse possibilities of the cloud by transferring the flexibility of applications and microservices in the cloud to the world of electrical components on the magnetic Flexfy wall. The wall adapts just as flexibly to the individual needs of users as the cloud solution on which it is based.
The solution for Flexfy combines cloud native development, innovative hardware and a powerful cloud platform to enable intelligent, flexible room design that meets the requirements and wishes of users.
Results and Benefits
The excellent partnership between DAW, the Flexfy team, Sotec and the Public Cloud Group (PCG) was characterised by agility, clear communication, a deep understanding of the project's challenges and an enthusiasm for innovation. The collaboration resulted in a highly efficient, sprint-based way of working that ensured the project stayed on track and on time and on budget.
One of PCG's most notable strengths was the provision of dedicated contacts who not only understood Flexfy's vision, but also actively challenged it to work towards continuous optimisation of the solution and provide the client with the best possible support in the development process. The close collaboration and continuous dialogue between the partners made it possible to derive clear requirements from the original vision.
The PCG showed how agility, clear communication and efficient working methods can help to successfully overcome complex challenges, develop innovative solutions and play an active role in shaping them.
Future perspective: Lots of room for new ideas
The outlook for the Flexfy project is extremely promising. The prototype will undergo an extensive test phase to ensure that it meets the high demands of users.
Flexfy impressively demonstrates the added value that innovative concepts can have for the business model of an established company like DAW. This pioneering project marks the path to a digital future in the smart home market and shows how the integration of cloud native technologies and IoT solutions can revolutionise the way we design and use our spaces.
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