Elemental Machines – using AI-powered platforms to accelerate scientific discovery.


The Brief

The Elements of Elemental Machines

Elemental Machines is a Boston-based company that creates AI-powered systems, catering to science, biotech, and healthcare companies. Their IoT (Internet of things) solution is usually used in research and clinical laboratories, using sensors to collect and send information via a gateway device. This device in turn uploads data to a dashboard in the cloud.

There are many steps to the collection process, several of which not obvious or straightforward. The cloud-connected sensors are the first step. They check the temperature, light intensity, humidity, and barometric pressure every few seconds. That info is transferred to a gateway device (usually a tablet) via Bluetooth. Then, the gateway device forwards it to the clients via WiFi or cell.

The IoT ecosystem lets clients track values in different time intervals, shows errors, analyzes trends, and creates auditable reports. When a value is out of the usual margins, the system’s rules engine routes notifications to the stakeholders.

We helped Elemental Machines create and design the dashboard and application programming interface (API), optimize the transfer of collected information, design the mobile app, and work on the gateway device.


Web & Gateway Development

Adding Speed and Composition

We started by focusing on full-stack development and an API for their dashboard. After that, we turned our attention to the gateway device. This is where the scalability of IoT shines since the gateway device uses both Bluetooth and WiFi/cell to connect and transfer the information. We streamlined the operation of the gateway device including improving reliability and transfer speeds.

Next up we optimized the entire system! Since the sensor network can be very large, the dashboard needs to present a myriad of different types of data. So, the entire system and process as a whole has to be optimized to a tee. We aimed to create dashboards that are quick and organized. To lessen the information traffic jam, we worked on cutting down the loading time.

We managed to increase the loading speed 20 times.



Data-Driven Design

For the design portion of our work, we first worked on the dashboard Elemental Machines uses for their clients. Our designers took on the job of creating a UI design that transparently shows all the relevant data collected by the sensors. Using filters and picking sections makes visualizing and analyzing the data intuitive and efficient.

The dashboard shows all the devices in one laboratory and the details, alerts, and insights that come with them. Everything can be viewed in a multitude of formats, including interactive time-series graphs, consolidated analytics, tables, etc.



Conclusion Ex Machina

As per usual, there were some legacy issues that we addressed head-on. We inherited the dashboard and the gateway code-bases from other companies and needed to adopt them.

Secondly, when we started working with Elemental Machines, they were still in the start-up phase. We went through all the growing pains and stages throughout the years to create a great, full-fledged product together.

Working with physical hardware devices (as is the case with IoT) is always interesting and challenging, especially when you have a client as data-driven as Elemental Machines. Starving to create a good design with that much data could have been our downfall, but we have forged a very collaborative partnership with Elemental Machines that allowed both companies to grow and succeed together.

It’s been an amazing experience working with Ars Futura. They feel like an extension of our team and their team is top-notch. Once we brought Ars Futura on, things improved a lot during the early stages.

Sridhar Iyengar

CEO and Founder @ Elemental Machines

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