Microprogram got a chance to work with I-TEK Metal Manufacturing in 2013. We worked hard to learn new knowledge and changed our R&D staffs and partners. After we went through the adjustment period, and through our great effort, we finally developed "Klacci smart networking electronic lock". This product extended our technology service to the door lock industry. Our idea and the tool of I-TEK Metal Manufacturing capture the world together.
We cooperated and developed the electronic lock through serendipity and set market segmentation for mobile control.
Wu Teng Yan, the General Manager of Microprogram and Shen Mu Lin, the General Manager of I-TEK Metal Manufacturing met in the SMS Business Leader Class and started their cooperation in 2013. It was observed that the mobile door lock might be available, but the door is not opened by Bluetooth and its data is sent from the backstage. Microprogram proposed that it is possible to use a mobile phone to manage a single door lock. We invested in the cross-authorization technology to manage the door lock by mobile Bluetooth or NFC. Therefore, the electronic lock we developed sets ourselves apart from the current market.
We work together and learn by doing while getting our feet wet.
At the beginning, the division of labor was clear cut and we each give full play to our strong points. I-TEK Metal Manufacturing was responsible for the structure of traditional mechanical lock. Microprogram offers sensing technologies including RFID, Bluetooth and NFC. That means that Microprogram implemented the use of the smart technology in the door lock. However, door lock industry is all new to Microprogram. Therefore, the R&D team of Microprogram began to devote themselves to learning Bluetooth and NFC technologies. In the first year, our project team focused on hardware design and development and asked our software department to develop the Android system. However, we had to change R&D staff after hardware development and carry out organizational changes to refine our teams. The development of electronic locks didn't go well for us.
The first dilemma: We had no one to test the hardware after we made it
"The hardest thing is going from zero to one". We had to change the R&D staff members responsible for hardware testing after completing hardware development. We began to train the abilities of R&D staff since our access system in the early days. We lost talents we trained despite the fact that we went through all that trouble and got no one to test our hardware when we were halfway through. People who took over the project couldn't get in the groove right away. As a result, our project was delayed.
The second dilemma: Changes caused by organizational change
It takes lots of courage to carry out organizational change during the project and we need time to start over the communication and negotiation. App development is one of the important projects of the smart electronic lock for I-TEK Metal Manufacturing. Microprogram tried to conduct the organizational change to meet the development technology and requirements of the product. We also brought in young employees for Agile and innovation of the team and focused on the electronic lock of I-TEK Metal Manufacturing.
The third dilemma: Technique needs to catch up with rapid technology advancement
IT trends are constantly changing. Our technical energy needs to keep up with the times. When it comes to Bluetooth technology, we produced the OS or elements of Bluetooth 3.0 back then. Now mobile phones come with Bluetooth 4.0. However, we can't add new functions and we have to rewrite everything; otherwise, we couldn't go on. It takes lots of time and cost for rewriting. Therefore, we have one team in charge of both operating systems to minimize losses and achieve the most effective development mode.
The fourth dilemma: We modified the Bluetooth application and reduced hacking risks
We planned to sell our product as a home lock. That's how we ran into the issues of Bluetooth application for the hotel lock. Microprogram modified the antenna design for accurate and suitable sensing scope with Bluetooth. Furthermore, Microprogram used a special encryption for the stored data during development to avoid theft and replication. As for Bluetooth communication, we bound a key to the transmitted data for encryption and decryption to ensure information security of user. The entire system is in the mobile phone instead of the cloud, which is the case for typical suppliers being hacked. The only risk we would face is hackers using the mobile network of the customer to steal mobile information of one user.
The fifth dilemma: Trial of the UL verification
After carrying out endless tries and tests and solving the issues with development specifications of the entire project and Bluetooth by the end of 2016, we had to pass 100,000 UL (Underwriter Laboratories Inc.) trials. That was the first time we faced such a severe challenge, which incurred a huge backlash with our R&D team. To pass the verification, we found more bugs and increased the power consumption of electronic lock from about 5,000 times to 100,000 times, which means we passed the standard. In addition, we broke through the bottleneck and had learned and grown from our setbacks. After 100,000 repeated self-tests, we believe that our product will pass the verification half a year after its submission and we can put it in mass production.
Communication with I-TEK Metal Manufacturing, our long-term partner in implementing the use of industrial technology
I-TEK Metal Manufacturing is in the traditional industry and acts as an agent. It is unfamiliar with marketing. Because of the difference in business models of I-TEK Metal Manufacturing and Microprogram, I-TEK Metal Manufacturing thinks that we should find developers to carry out technologies after getting customers, but Microprogram thinks that we must complete the product before beginning its promotion. One of us is being conservative and another one is being impulsive. We must cope with each other and reach consensus to narrow the cognitive gap for the sake of our long-term cooperation. On this long road, I-TEK Metal Manufacturing and Microprogram grew together and learned from each other's strengths. Eventually Microprogram practiced what we preached by demonstrating innovative marketing strategies. We gave a few products to I-TEK Metal Manufacturing for testing and promotion. We hope that we can find the right place for demonstration of establishment in Taiwan.
Our electronic lock comes with three functions and we strive for diverse development. We expected to put this product in mass production in the second half year of 2017
Currently our electronic lock combines RFID, Bluetooth and NFC. We are now developing the software development kit (SDK) for dealers and hotel owners to integrate our electronic lock with their own applications. We will head toward active sensing and lock minimization. We will also get our hands on fingerprint and vein sensors. We will continue to optimize products and services to increase our competitiveness in the world and gains more sales opportunities.
Products from the first pilot run have been delivered. We expect to deliver the products from the mass production in Q4. We will launch our app after passing the UL verification in the next half year. We hope to find a small store to sell our products in Q4 this year. Our target audience is high-end customers, such as four and five-star hotels, meeting rooms, research labs and VIP wards.
It's tough but we are tougher! Our team has grown
We worked on this product for more than three years and went through organizational change and difficulties with production. Finally we reaped the fruit. Growth and changes along the way give our project team more confidence in our product. We stand on the shoulders of giants and learn from the experience of industrial cooperation to stimulate the growth of our team. We learned SOP standards from I-TEK Metal Manufacturing and our hardware department became mature and stable. We've become more powerful overall. We will continue to stick to our belief "connecting to the industry, helping the startup" and become a long-term partner of technology services in all industries.