Need to get up to speed with IoT? Try SpinDance’s Bootcamp

April 4th, 2017 | Brian Tol | Uncategorized


SpinDance loves building software for the Internet of Things. We believe the IoT, along with machine learning, represents the future of technology for the next 50 years. Everyday we see exciting new IoT products coming into the market.

But for each “awesome” product, we see more than a few clunkers. In this regard, IoT is very similar to other technologies, including the web… remember

We’re very early in the evolution of IoT, which has a number of ramifications on the market:

  • IoT technology, standards, and best practices are still coming together.
  • Firms are experimenting with IoT business models, and startups are taking big risks on unproven markets.
  • Users are navigating the plethora of IoT-enabled devices available to them, and trying to figure out what adds value at home and at the office.

We see these three themes woven into every SpinDance project. Organizations are challenged to not only ship great technology, but to do so in a way that delights customers and grows the bottom line. It’s hard to build a great IoT product.

Compounding the problem is a lack of practical real-world knowledge available to organizations. You can find 1,000 articles on IoT on the internet, but most are click-bait drivel. And have you seen any good books on IoT development?…

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Using Flexible Slots to Design Alexa Skills

March 28th, 2017 | Conor Livingston | Engineering,Uncategorized

Voice Interfaces For IoT

The Amazon Echo is a breakthrough product. It is the first consumer product with a voice-centric interaction model, and it has really caught on. The number of skills (think apps… more on this below) available in the Alexa Skills store has increased 5X between Q2 and Q4 of 2016, and Amazon Echo sales have more than doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 2.4 million to 5.2 million.

SpinDance recently created an Alexa skill that enables consumers to control Whirlpool and Jenn-Air home appliances with their voices. Along the way we discovered a better way to design skills, resulting in less code and increased flexibility. Read on to learn how you can follow suit.

About Alexa Skills

Alexa Skills are still relatively new, so before we explain the improved design methodology, here’s some background information on Amazon Alxa skills, and the traditional way of designing them.

It might help to think of Alexa skills as mobile apps. Just like mobile apps add features to mobile phones, Alexa skills add features to Alexa-powered devices, like the Echo, Echo Dot, or even a Kindle tablet.

Users can browse for skills in Amazon’s skill store, enable them, and then interact with their device by talking to it. Here are some examples:

  • “Alexa,

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Living the Values – A Perspective on Receiving Advice

June 3rd, 2016 | Mike Stroud | Uncategorized

My son was practicing basketball last night. Every time an athlete made a move that led to an unfavorable result, the coach blew the whistle. She would explain the consequences of the move, give the athlete a couple of other options with predicted outcomes, and then let the athlete execute whichever move they chose without further interruption. It was a brief interrupt that occurred no more than once each time they crossed the court. She would praise their second effort by focusing on choice rather than outcome. As I watched, I was impressed with how she kept the advice brief and the players in control of their task (the basketball).

That’s when it occurred to me. When receiving advice anywhere and at any time, what most of us desire is an experience similar to what I saw at basketball practice where the ball remained in the athletes hands and encouragement followed the coaches interrupt. Sometimes this doesn’t happen and instead we receive advice from someone who takes over our task or tells us explicitly how to do the task. Now, I’m not talking about the person who does this infrequently. After all, we have each done it at one time or another and on occasion it is necessary. For those cases we need to put it behind us.  What I am talking about is when it is recurring and the next incident occurs before the prior incident is forgotten….

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IoT is Ready for Seamless Accelerator

October 20th, 2015 | Kevin Virta | Uncategorized

SpinDance is serving as a Mentor for the Seamless Accelerator, a coalition of world class enterprises providing new market opportunities to IoT startups located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  As a Mentor company to Seamless, SpinDance is providing in kind services to help the IoT startups progress their business to the next level.  This blog first appeared as a guest blog to Seamless.

Back to the beginning.

When I first heard the term “Internet of Things,” it was 2006. I had just joined my friends, Garrick Pohl and Budd Bentley, to help them launch the fledgling Crayon Interface.

We set out to conquer the growing connected world, armed with visuals Garrick would create, showing a variety of environments all connected through a software back-end service (intended to be ours) and available for monitor and control purposes on a mobile phone (using apps we would develop in J2ME).  We targeted companies who had products in these environments and told them about the coming Internet of Things and how they needed to get their products connected. We approached companies with products ranging from lighting to door locks to thermostats to appliances to video cameras to garage doors to vehicle security systems to office furniture to home security solutions to dog collars to bicycle locks to . . . well, you get the picture. We covered a lot of ground,…

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