It wasn’t long after meeting Fredrik Timour, CEO of award-winning startup Neue Labs, that we dove straight into a conversation about their latest product called AUTOMAT. Over a beer, I questioned Timour on the ins and outs of Neue Labs, with the objective to understand the possibilities that their product offered whilst also learning more about how AUTOMAT can help brands take their product from prototype to market.
So what is the best way to explain AUTOMAT? Well, it basically provides the entire software and hardware stack needed to make absolutely anything connect to the internet. AUTOMAT’s impressive features make it possible for anyone, from any industry, to re-imagine how their product can be part of the Internet of Things. More importantly, Neue Labs’ latest product can play a key role when it comes to brands re-imagining how their product could offer greater value to their customer base.
For people to understand how limitless the possibilities are when it comes to the AUTOMAT toolkit, one needs to first understand a few things in advance. With the rise of Internet of Things, for some, it is still hard for them to try and imagine how a device, like the AUTOMAT toolkit, could add much needed value to their product. This is because the adoption of new technologies has not come so easily and therefore the most effective approach has been collaborations between brands and technology.
At the pace that technology is evolving today, clarity is key, especially when simple questions like, what to develop? and who to develop it for? become more and more complex. In the case of Neue Labs, these simple questions are easily answered by the endless possibilities that the AUTOMAT tool kit offers. That is why I think that the smart approach would be for apparel professionals or production companies to find ways to embed an IoT system into whatever it is that they are offering. On this Fredrik stated:”At this point in time, I think it’s more important for brands to release something rather than try to figure out the ultimate device. The knowledge gained by actually releasing something and receiving user feedback will give brands the edge when it comes to how they move forward with connected devices“.
AUTOMAT’s Baseboard, App and the Cloud
With the AUTOMAT boards you can create your own devices, build musical instruments and controllers to use with your apps, connect your garments or add features to your jewellery or game controller to enhance your gaming experience. When the Automat iOS and Android app connects to your devices, it allows you to easily create your own functions and interface for your device. But if you want to go all out, the open software developer kit (SDK) also enables you to create your own apps. AUTOMAT also has a platform that uses a node-based interface for visual programming that will, for example, allow your smart jewellery to notify you by lighting up when you receive a tweet or when your plants need to be watered. There is also no need for any on-board AI or machine learning capabilities because you can find these in the cloud.
“For us, it has been very important that Automat integrates into the design workflow, we are taking ideas from prototype to market”
In the realm of education and research, the Stockholm-based startup has built up a good mix of clients that include the The Scandinavian Airlines, Fjällräven and Henzel Studio to name a few. Even companies like H&M and Microsoft are doing some prototyping with AUTOMAT. On this Fredrik stated:”For us, it has been very important that Automat integrates into the design workflow, we are taking ideas from prototype to market.” Looking to help people imagine the added value AUTOMAT can have, Neue Labs have been inspiring students at Universities and the maker community at Fashion Tech Hackathons.
The Startup Mindset From Prototype To Market
When tech startups make fundamental decisions in the beginning, based on a hypothesis which is yet to be tested, it can end up affecting the business several years down the line. Therefore, making the right decisions in the beginning is crucial. For example, should a start-up wonder what protocol they should use or whether an open source strategy is a smart tactic, they need to keep in mind that re-inventing the wheel is not an intellectual approach. Instead, they need to be motivated by big boys like GE Digital, Intel, Microsoft and Samsung who have formed an alliance called the Open connectivity foundation. In doing so, they are restructuring the ecosystem, which some could argue is one big mess right now. By teaming up, these brands are finding a way to offer users a standard protocol so as to prevent, for example, consumers having to toggle between different apps in their smart home.
The thing with new technologies, especially with the Internet of Things, is that it can be really hard to imagine how it benefits our lives. For example, who knew, when the internet was born, that 20 years later we would be able to pay our parking tickets directly from our smartphones. With that kind of progression, can today’s businesses afford not to have a startup mindset? I’d like to think they can’t. Of course, there are many ways to pivot your strategy, but some choices need to be correct from day one. One of these choices could be the use of an open source strategy. It might require some courage, but it expresses confidence and understanding of the fact that you need to have a mindset that will allow you to be open to work with others when exploring a new business within the technology space.
When you have the right mindset there will be no getting away from choosing the right platform, developing the application software, creating some form of integrated UI and possibly coming up with beacons, web sockets or procedure calls that make high level communication possible between devices. These are just a few decisions that need to be made from the start. AUTOMAT is basically providing all that is needed to be connected, and while doing so, it opens up a whole new way of thinking and how you can add value to your customers.
AUTOMAT Aims to be the Beginning of a Startup’s End Point.
The future looks promising for Neue Labs and their product AUTOMAT. With the ability to work as hub, AUTOMAT creates a bridge between the ‘things’ and the rest of the digital world, enabling you and those assigned to it, overall control over whatever the device is connected to.
To summarize, AUTOMAT is a rapid product development tool that takes ideas from prototype to production. With the belief that new and exciting technology should always be in the hands of everyone with an idea, AUTOMAT has made it possible for anyone to work on any platform and communicate in any language. They did this by removing the complexities, usually associated with bringing an IoT device or service from prototype to market. The most interesting aspect of this, is that normally the end-product is a company’s final destination, but in the case of AUTOMAT, it is where the journey begins.
FashionTech Consultant, Freethinking Opportunist Hero, Aspiring to Inspire. Wearobot Groupie with a Tech for Passion. Contributed to Wired.com. Founder of WearableGuru.com Founding Managing Editor FashNerd.com