August 11, 2020
Custom Solutions
Product Design
Quality Engineering

Building a mobile application for insect-monitoring smart sensors

Building a mobile application for insect-monitoring smart sensors

When a company is ready to pursue an idea for an app, nothing should stand in the way of getting the product to market as quickly as possible. But between the full cost of app development, the time required to build a high-quality solution, and the uncertainty behind whether an app will be well-received by the marketplace, making the very decision to build an app requires care and precision.

Minimum viable products (MVPs) help bridge this gap of uncertainty, enabling companies with an idea for software to develop and release a scaled-back version of a fully functional app.

Intended to deliver an app’s core functionality, MVPs enable companies to quickly build functional solutions that can be tested on the market by users and improved upon for future releases. Rather than developing and releasing a feature-complete solution, MVPs also make it easy to quickly bring a usable product to market.

FaunaPhotonics, a technology company focused on real-time insect monitoring technology, develops proprietary solutions for agricultural use. Its patent-pending remote optical sensing technology can remotely count and classify insect species for improved decision support, allowing agricultural producers to better understand insect biodiversity and control the insect-borne disease. FaunaPhotonics’ proprietary fifth-generation sensors can accurately measure an insect’s wingbeat frequency, colour, and wing-to-body ratio, delivering real-time insights into insect populations and activity.

FaunaPhotonics sensors in the field
One of the FaunaPhotonics sensors in the field.Source:

The challenge

The FaunaPhotonics technology platform automates several manual agricultural tasks, allowing producers to optimise time-consuming crop scouting processes. Sensor data, which is collected and stored on a variety of different platforms, allows FaunaPhotonics’ users to collect information about insects, such as pests in oilseed rape, biodiversity, and activity peaks. Affordable digital sensors allow for highly precise, efficient insect monitoring, which benefits growers around the world.  

But sensors — which can be susceptible to being disconnected, falling over, or losing battery power — can lose their ability to gather data and ultimately render inaccurate statistics. FaunaPhotonics sought a solution to notify farmers and engineers of each sensor’s status, ensuring that any sensor issues could be immediately addressed in order to maintain the continuous collection and analysis of data.   

FaunaPhotonics partnered with Ciklum to build a mobile application MVP to provide an easy and convenient method of monitoring sensor data. Ciklum’s team, working in concert with FaunaPhotonics’ data engineer, sought to create Android and iOS applications that provide operation information from insect sectors and basic data analysis of insect activity. Because of Ciklum’s expertise in mobile application development, thorough experience with internet-of-things (IoT) devices, and its global staff of award-winning technology experts, FaunaPhotonics chose Ciklum as a partner to help solve its complex development challenges.

The Solution

The development process took place over three stages: product design, product development, and quality assurance. Ciklum recommended and ultimately built FaunaPhotonics’ apps using Flutter, the UI toolkit that creates native Android and iOS experiences with a branded material-like design. Created by Google to help developers quickly and proactively create beautiful user interfaces, Flutter apps also take advantage of hardware-accelerated graphics and UI elements powered by native ARM code. 

Developers first worked to implement FaunaPhotonics’ many desired features, including an account sign-in, homepage profile details, configure sensor capabilities, sensor details, notifications, weekly insect activities, and activity peaks. The Ciklum team then designed and built the Android and iOS application MVP, which enabled users to monitor operational data of installed insect sensors and received notifications about the different sensor states. In the quality assurance phase, the apps were manually tested on nine different devices, and 84% of the applications were carried out through autotests employing a behaviour-driven development framework. 

The Result

Not only did Ciklum cover all of FaunaPhotonics’ major business logic hidden within the app, but the developers also built a user experience using a UI widget-oriented design. This approach made it possible to simulate user interactions in multiple languages, to check that all labels and components were placed properly, and to confirm that all buttons and gestures worked across all devices in all locations.

Ciklum’s team also developed two graphs to help farmers make the most of their FaunaPhotonics data, which helps determine the best times to apply pesticides to crops or when a situation requires thorough data monitoring. The first graph, measuring weekly activity, shows the number of insects detected by the camera daily, allowing farmers to identify trends in insect activity and determine whether a farmer needs to take action. The second graph, measuring activity peaks, highlights daily insect activity to inform farmers of periods with high insect activity to identify the best times to apply pesticides to crops. 

FaunaPhotonics ultimately received its desired MVP, allowing farmers to comprehensively monitor insect activity using a convenient Android or iOS application. Ciklum’s team members not only delivered the project in time, but FaunaPhotonics apps also included features that were not even included in the first place. The result was an ideal solution that allows agriculturists to stay informed through powerful mobile apps that also leaves room for further software refinement. 

By partnering with Ciklum, FaunaPhotonics was able to leverage the perceived value of their product by building applications that were ready for market launch. As a powerful mobile solution that allows users to keep track of sensors and receive basic analytics about insect activity, FaunaPhotonics can continue to keep up with the mobile app revolution in the farming and agricultural sector.