Building the SoftBank Smart Building/City Application
Event-Driven Applications

For SoftBank World 2019, VANTIQ presented a demo of a Smart Lobby application built on the VANTIQ platform. The idea was to instrument the lobby of SoftBank’s new office in Tokyo to enhance the capabilities of security, reception, and building management. For security, this meant alerting them proactively when someone on a watchlist enters the floor so they can react and intercept the intruder quickly. For reception, this meant helping receptionists triage new arrivals and quickly register unknown people as visitors, new employees, or contractors. For building management, this meant providing complete visibility into who was where in the lobby in real-time.

The use case was targeted at SoftBank’s new HQ in Tokyo, but as of the demo the building was still under development. We had access to a floor plan, and we knew what kind of data we could expect to receive when the lobby was fully constructed and all of the sensors and cameras were installed, so we set out to build a representative simulation of the system SoftBank needed in time for the conference.

We were on a tight timeline, with only 45 days between choosing the scenarios and features we wanted to showcase and presenting the demo. We were able to deliver a functional demo ahead of schedule by leveraging a few key pieces of the VANTIQ platform, namely the Pronto Advanced Event Broker and the Client Builder.

We made the decision early on to decouple the Smart Lobby application from the data that powered the demo. This allowed us to segment the work, so one developer could work on the simulation, while another worked on the smart lobby application. The definition of the location event in Pronto served as the interface between the simulation and the application. It defined the schema of the events that the simulation was expected to produce, and the application was expected to consume.

This was a logical choice because we knew the actual sensors and cameras that will eventually power the application were not available yet, and we wanted the ability to swap out a simulation of that data with the real thing at a later date when the sensors and cameras were operational. In doing this, we had effectively created a digital twin of SoftBank’s new lobby.

softbank world smart city building lobby app

We used Pronto – VANTIQ’s Advanced Event Broker – to route events from the simulation to the application. The simulation was a publisher of location events, and the Smart Lobby application was a subscriber of those events. When the cameras are installed and the building is operational, we can disconnect the simulation publisher and connect up the camera-driven publisher with just a few clicks.

To build the simulations for the Smart Lobby demo, we built a Client that could record a series of clicks on the HQ floor plan and convert those into a repeatable “Journey” that could be replayed on demand. These journeys made up the building blocks for the overall simulations. We defined “Scripts” containing a sequence of Journeys that would bind to known identities and replay the sequence of steps as a person known to the Smart Lobby application. These replayed events were the location events routed by Pronto from the simulation to the Smart Lobby application.

In the end, we built an additional client that could run on a mobile app with a collection of buttons to launch one of the scripts on demand. This made it easy for presenters at SoftBank World to control the flow of a demo via their phone, and tailor the demo in real time to their audience.

In the end, the demo went off without a hitch, and we’re already working on the next iteration.

To hear SoftBank’s COO explain why they chose VANTIQ for this and future projects, see the video below.

 

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