Dwelo is a start-up based in San Francisco that provides simple, seamless, smart apartment hubs to the owners and managers of large multi-family rental communities. They aggregate consumer home automation solutions into their management platform so that property managers can run their properties more efficiently, save energy in vacant properties, and give remote access to maintenance providers. With the rental market being over 40% of the total housing market in the US, Dwelo sought to solve challenges facing both renters and property management.
Consumer IoT (Internet of Things) instantly makes us think about home automation and smart appliances. With the popularity of home WiFi, things like thermostats, smart locks, and security cameras have become desirable in single family homes where the owner has full control over their property. But for renters who don’t have as much control over their environment, home automation has quickly become a differentiating feature for rental properties.
Building connected device solutions are much more complex than building a web app. The combination of hardware, software, services, and connectivity means that many companies in the IoT space can spend years developing concept solutions and working through initial iterations of the product to get hardware and software configurations working well. For Dwelo, the process was no different. And because Dwelo aggregates consumer IoT products, they also needed proprietary software to combat the challenge of network congestion.
Compared to the hardware manufacturing process, Twilio [connectivity] was a snap
Dwelo spent much effort evaluating different connectivity providers to suit their specific use case. Usually, internet is brought to the unit by the tenant, but because the smart control hub is being sold for operational purposes, Dwelo needed a way to connect their hubs without a tenant’s internet connection. The hub has to be cellular-connected, and Dwelo chose Twilio Wireless to use APIs enable to provision cellular services on demand and at time of installation. They were also able to achieve the flexible and affordable rate plan they needed for devices that are not in use most of the time.
Dwelo uses Twilio Sync for IoT to guarantee deliverability and cut costs
Residents expect a high standard of reliability from their home automation devices, and to achieve this, Dwelo models every device with its own Twilio Sync Map. The map reflects the current state of connected devices (thermostat temperature, set point, battery level, etc.), acknowledges commands, and records if they were successful or not. Updates are pushed to the web app, Android or iOS apps, as well as to an API in the cloud that stores commands/historical sensor data, and MQTT communications between controller hubs.
Dwelo also uses the MQTT protocol with Twilio Sync for IoT. Typically, connectivity providers only offer the HTTP request/response protocol which means the device needs to be continuously polled to check for its state. MQTT uses a publish/subscribe architecture, and MQTT packets are much smaller which means they are bandwidth-efficient, use little battery power, and can guarantee message deliverability. This means devices and users can get updates only when something significant changes rather than using more data than needed to constantly poll the device.
Twilio Sync for IoT is fast and reliable, and it saves us an incredible amount of engineering work
Cellular connectivity with Dwelo, has created a 10% improvement in customer satisfaction up for residents during on-boarding. Having a persistent internet connection has also reduced confusion for residents and property owners and managers when getting set up in a new rental property. Dwelo continues to experience rapid growth, and adding Twilio Wireless connectivity has only accelerated projects that give it a unique advantage in the market.