Home Coins Helium (HNT) Helium Console Retrospective. As a new year kicks off (thankfully)… | by...

Helium Console Retrospective. As a new year kicks off (thankfully)… | by Dal Gemmell | Jan, 2021

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Dal Gemmell

As a new year kicks off (thankfully), we thought it would be beneficial to reflect on what the Helium Console team has built in 2020.

During unprecedented times, despite moving to a 100% remote workforce, the Console team has continued to execute and deploy new features, and functionality.

Console early days
Console after

In 2020 as the community deployed 13,000+ Hotspots (currently at 16,000+) and built the world’s largest, public IoT network, more than 5,000 users registered a Console account to onboard and manage devices that sent many hundreds of gigabytes of data over The People’s Network.

As more wireless coverage was deployed, more users of the Network recognized the advantages and the cost benefits of a network built not by a single company, but by a willing community.

From medical devices to smart parking, or asset tracking of precious goods, here’s a sample of how innovative companies used Console to send data over The People’s Network in 2020:

  • Smart water: stop leaks and water waste (NOWI), here.

While too numerous to mention every one, here’s an overview of key features and functionality the team delivered in 2020:

Multi-tenancy

Organizations are virtual containers that include: devices, users, Data Credit balance. We provided the ability to easily switch between Organizations, and transfer Data Credits among Organizations.

Different users

Three types of users with different permissions: administrators, managers, and Read-Only. Administrators can see everything, and do anything, Read-Only limited to view only, while Managers are in the middle.

Fully leverage LoRaWAN

Early in the year we made a decision to fully support the LoRaWAN wireless protocol. This allows any existing LoRaWAN-compatible device to use the largest, public LoRaWAN network.

Joining devices

Onboarding devices is obviously a core action. Besides adding devices through UI, users can add devices via API, batch import with a csv file, and import devices directly from The Things Network Console. Start adding devices here.

Organize and manage with Labels

Labels are the super glue that binds Console capabilities to devices. The flexibility of Labels allows users to organize and manage devices, attach Integrations, and Functions, (more info here).

Packet commerce

Since August 2020, companies require Data Credits to transfer data on the Network. Through Console they can directly purchase Data Credits with a credit card or receive Data Credits from converting HNT. Credit Card users can set up auto payment so they never need to worry about running out. Data Credit details here.

Flexible Integrations

Like our decision to adopt LoRaWAN to make it easy for IoT communities to use their existing tools/platforms with The People’s Network, we’ve added the ability to send data to desired locations. Flexibility with HTTP, MQTT, AWS IOT, also made it simple with pre-built integrations, myDevices, Adafruit IO, Cargo and more to come. In a recent update we also added the ability to customize JSON Messages with templates (more Integration details here).

Up and Down traffic

Console allows users to use a downlink url based on their Integration to send data back down to devices. We also added a way for users to manually send downlink packets for testing purposes.

Packets in real time

View data packets in real time including decoded payloads using Decoder Functions using the Debug pane. The Debug pane displays full packet details which can be copied or exported (more info here).

Function decoders

We added Functions to Console with the first one being Decoders. Payloads sent by devices are encoded and need to be decoded so the information can be understood. Decoders allow users to display encoded payloads using known (Cayenne, Browan) or custom decoders, here.

Automate with APIs

We’ve learned our community has a large number of very tech savvy members who want to leverage APIs and automate tasks. In the new year we’ll continue to build out available APIs (read more here).

As we continue into 2021 we will continue to work on minimizing any friction to using The People’s Network and focus on a few key themes:

Open source — enables anyone to host their own version of Console. More details about the nuts and bolts here.

Integrations — both with other LoRaWAN Network Servers and IoT platforms. The team delivered pre-built Integrations with myDevices, Adafruit IO in 2020 and we plan to continue with other leading IoT platforms.

Console 2.0 — as the number of Console features have increased, unfortunately so has complexity. We’ve learned a lot about our users and we’re using those insights to re-think how to simplify the process, and eliminate friction getting devices online and sending data.

With a bigger team, we’re excited about what we’ll build based on feedback from users, and the Console community. We’re thrilled to learn how new customers will use the Network once they discover its undeniable advantages.

If you aren’t using Console, sign up here for a free account that includes 10,000 Data Credits.

To get a sneak peek of the future of Console, watch a demo on Helium Hacks Happy Hour and stay tuned for updates from the Console team!

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