RoadTest: Hanhaa Symbisa IoT Dev Kit
Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:
What were the biggest problems encountered?:
I’ll start my roadtest review by giving a little insight of my background and the motivation to accept this roadtest.
I’m currently preparing an IoT network to gather information for my pHd thesis case study. In my work I have to monitor an air compressor installation, from the machine room to the consumption site. I was using mostly ESP8266 DIY boards to monitor different parameters and send data to an IoT server.
All was going well, until I faced two small obstacles: In the compressor room I have no WiFi coverage and there are no power outlets. Yes, they could be easily overcome with WiFi extenders and power banks (or working on the power grid), but the Symbisa seemed to be a good alternative.
The device arrived tightly packed in a box protected in all direction with a pink foam. In the box was only the SIM card shaped device and a business card with the get started link.
The first thing I thought when I opened the box was: This thing is big… or at least I as expecting a smaller device. The device has single button and an always on paper ink display that presents the link to start configuring the device.
The size however is not a limitation for me. It monitors the following variables:
These values are periodically sent to the Symbisa IoT server through GSM network. This is really handy for my situation since I do not have WiFi coverage.
One of the selling points from Hanhaa is that we can start using the device minutes after the unboxing I believe it won’t be true for most people, especially on the first time they handle one of these kits.
The first steps were preaty simple and straightforward:
…or at least is that what I was expecting.
I have waited a few minutes, then an hour and nothing happened. No information on the device display or the symbisa platform. Pressing the single button on the device did not change anything also. On the troubleshooting page there is no additional information and the suggested steps are exactly the ones followed.
I have then decided to upgrade the firmware using the tool available for download at the symbisa platform. After flashing the firmware, it started working correctly.
The user can then select the transmission interval (from 1 to 1440 minutes), a message and bar code to show on the display. The later can be very useful for tracking application, but for the current application it has no utility.
Each update costs one credit and the device is sent with 500 free credits to use, however there is no pricing information and no way to buy new ones (at least from the Symbisa platform). In my application I am recording data every minute, so these credits would only last about 8h.
Data can be viewed directly on the Symbisa dashboard and accessed using the Microsoft Excell Add-in, an API or by downloading a xls file from the symbisa dashboard.
The Symbisa dashboard has some small widgets that show the main in plots for the independent values, a map for the location and a table with temperature, humidity and events. You can expand each widget to get a detailed view of each variable, but you cannot rearrange them in any way.
The Microsoft Excell Add-in is only intended for only use through the Office 365 platform. Although I managed to install the provided manifest on a OSX machine the Symbisa functions are not available. When using the Office 365 platform it is pretty straightforward. After loading the manifest, as soon as you start typing “SYMBISA” a pop-up shows up with all the available functions.
If you need to have an automated system analysing the data from the device the only way to go is using the API. There is little information on the Symbisa platform regarding this method, so you need to have some experience with API for using it. After a few hours battling with the scarce API documentation I managed to access the stored data using Postman.
The first step was to generate an API key for the registered device. This key will then be used has the access token for the OAuth2.0 authentication. Although you should be able to get this token using the Client ID and credentials I wasn’t able to use their API for it.
You can then use the https://symbisa.hanhaa.net/portal/api/data/intervalurl to query data from the device. You can specify start and end (time in milliseconds) parameters to restrict the data sent. If no parameter is passed you will receive all the stored data. Below is an example of each interval information.
"trackingDate": "2018-09-10 02:00:03",
"time": "2018-09-10 02:00:00",
Although most information received is easily self-explained, there is no documentation regarding the values received.
The last option is to download a xls file from the Symbisa dashboard. To do that you must expand the table widget, choose track detail from the device link and click download on the top right corner. Similar to the data received through the API, there is little information regarding the different variables.
The Symbisa kit was developed with a main market in mind, parcel tracking. And its features make it excellent for this use. But it could be really useful to make use of the GSM communication to integrate other devices with the Symbisa platform.
This leads us to another limitation, the Symbisa platform. It is not possible to use the GSM device to send data to other IoT platforms, and the available API is limited to a handful of calls and with scarce documentation.
The main limitation was however the failure of the device. After a few days of use I started having problems with the device. Although it was sending data to the symbisa platform every hour, some data was not correct. I was receiving 0ºC of temperature and 0% of humidity at every single upload. By analysing the detailed information, I saw that the maximum value was having aleatory values between 0 a 5000+ degree (yes 5 thousands…).
I have used the Symbisa platform to submit a ticket to get help, however after more than two weeks I am still waiting for a response.
With no reply from Hanhaa I have then decided to check for a firmware update. Although it was no new firmware available I have re-flashed the existing one. After this procedure the device started sending correct values again… for one day…
I have then decided it was not worth to continue with the current roadtest. I had enough information to describe the device features and usage, but I wouldn’t be able to use it due reliably.
As described before, most of my experience with IoT devices is related to Arduino based DIY kits. In order to use these kits, one must have experience with a handful of tools and technologies. The Symbisa kit simplifies this to the point that even a kid could use it.
However, the Symbisa kit was design with parcel tracking in mind. It an excellent device to make sure a parcel is safely handled in every stage of the journey.
After using it for the past weeks I have concluded that it should not be compared with the other devices I am using. Each one of them was developed with a different application in mind. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the Symbisa setup and interface, but it lacked some other important functionality. Namely expansibility for other sensors and a flexible IoT platform with good documentation.
At the time of this writing there was no information on the cost of the device or the credits.
The biggest problem was the absence of support when I was having bad temperature and humidity readings.
It was very interesting to read your review. I had some similar thoughts about the device and the Symbisa platform. I am sorry that your device malfunctioned. You must have been unlucky as they seem…
I also agree that there are also limitations to the messages displayed.
it would be more useful to display the sensor values directly on the screen.
Nice honest review.
Nice honest review.
It was very interesting to read your review. I had some similar thoughts about the device and the Symbisa platform. I am sorry that your device malfunctioned. You must have been unlucky as they seem quite robust. My Symbisa appears to work perfectly (even though I have exceeded the specified humidity levels during some of my tests - as you will see when I post my own review).
It would be a lot more useful, as you say, if you could configure the device to display the sensor values that you are interested in, on the screen. Surely that could be achieved by Hanhaa just with a firmware update.
BTW, you might want to obfuscate the latitude and longitude readings on your screenshot. I can see your exact street address in Aveiro (or maybe the GSM cell location)!
With best wishes
Congrats marcosgomes ,
You've performed this roadtest pretty well. Thanks for saying what need to be said. I see the same limitations too, I think it's excessive proprietary to be called DevKit. One can't do anything beyond what is ready.
an always on paper ink display
Btw, the messages shown in the display are way limited.
E-paper displays are awesome, they retain information even when energy is pulled off
João Paulo N Bino