Whisker sought to revamp its infrastructure to increase the speed and dependability of its mobile app while delivering a digital user experience that echoed its customers' fervent passion for its products.Soluciones Cloud, Cloud Adoption & Migration Plataformas Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Whisker (formerly AutoPets) has been innovating pet tech and refining pet accessories since 1999. Whisker strives to make pet care more enjoyable and convenient by developing highly functional and refined IoT-connected pet products.
The company’s iconic Litter-Robot™ Connect, a Wi-Fi-enabled, self-cleaning litter box for cats, automatically senses when a cat has entered and exited and then initiates a cycle to clean the litter without the need for manual scooping.
“We view Onica by Rackspace Technology as our software technology partner. The Onica team is helping to develop our software technology and mobile products, which are used by pet owners around the world. We’re increasingly satisfied.”
The obstacles they faced
Since 2015, Whisker has witnessed a skyrocketing demand for its pioneering products: the Litter-Robot and the Wi-Fi-enabled Feeder-Robot™. But with rapid growth came a few challenges.
Whisker’s users loved controlling their devices via a mobile app. However, as sales boomed, the app faced strain, leading to onboarding issues and inconsistent performance. Whisker recognized the pressing need for stronger infrastructure that could both launch a new mobile app and also efficiently manage the influx of millions of messages each day on its growing device network.
Though it was already leveraging Amazon Web Services (AWS), Whisker wasn't utilizing features like AWS IoT Core for this. As a result, scalability suffered, and app response times became unpredictable. Whisker’s past iOS app experience further amplified these concerns as it ramped up the launch of a new Android app. Looking ahead, the challenge was clear: Whisker needed to integrate Android users and upgrade legacy devices — without disruption. Undaunted, Whisker embarked on a mission to incrementally reinforce and refine its infrastructure.
“Thanks to the help we received from Onica, the launch of the Android app was much more successful than we anticipated.”
How we helped
To ensure it met its deadlines for the Android app launch, Whisker hired Onica® by Rackspace Technology® for integration services and for help addressing user experience and onboarding issues related to the iOS application.
The Onica and Whisker teams modernized and streamlined existing devices using AWS services for automation, scalability and cost optimization. To ingest the data, they used AWS IoT Core along with a rules engine. The buffered data was passed through Amazon Kinesis streams and processed using AWS Lambda, and DynamoDB was utilized for long-term storage. As new requirements arose, the team opted for serverless computing.
Using AWS IoT Core, Whisker enabled real-time communication and seamless debugging of robots, sending critical data to guide repairs without disruption. Amazon Athena allowed for the capture of debug data for the team to analyze faults and issue proactive firmware updates.
Using Amazon Timestream, the Whisker team added the ability to get data for the debug process, enabling it to build custom dashboards from sensor data, viewing its growing device fleet and identifying any robots that needed support. Amazon CloudWatch let team members monitor system performance and track Whisker platform activities. AWS IoT Device Defender helps Whisker locate stolen devices and restrict their function.
The Onica and Whisker teams took on an aggressive 45-day timeline to deliver new IoT firmware for the next generation Litter-Robot and ensure a successful Android application launch. They successfully improved the stability of the AWS infrastructure, ensuring a smooth onboarding process for the Android app and enhancing hardware capabilities to seamlessly support the IoT core service.
The results were immediate. From the design of the provisioning and onboarding process to the implementation of communications firmware, every step was seamlessly executed. This included building a cloud native infrastructure, updating existing iOS applications and refining the preliminary work on the Android application. All these measures ensured successful integration with new devices.
What we achieved together
Utilizing Onica's specialized knowledge of AWS, Whisker was able to upgrade product reliability and expandability, reducing operating expenses and supporting more customer devices.
Working together, Whisker and Onica developed a secure system that facilitates seamless communication and updates between a cloud-based platform and a variety of device types. The collaboration enabled Whisker to make significant advancements in its product and benefit their customers through more effective and efficient digital operations.
To further improve customer experience, Whisker upgraded its server infrastructure, transforming the application experience on AWS and increasing app speed and reliability. The upgrade increased product reliability and scalability while reducing operating costs.
By going serverless, Whisker eliminated the need to manually manage a growing array of connected devices, allowing the team to focus on the innovations that have earned it a market-leading position with more than 200 million daily messages from connected robots.
Serverless computing has also improved customer service for its IoT devices through decreased response and resolution times. Innovations enabled by AWS IoT Core and other AWS services are allowing Whisker to collect and analyze data and sensors for deeper insights into pet wellness.
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