September 28, 2023

Smart Machine Fleet Management from Anywhere: Introducing the Viam Mobile Application

Written by
Natalia Jacobwitz
Product Manager

Smart machines and robots are increasingly playing a larger role in our lives, helping us automate otherwise tedious, dangerous, or unproductive tasks. However, in many cases, monitoring these smart machines still requires us to be chained to a desk, which can be inconvenient if you need to be out in the field with your hardware, or otherwise find yourself in a situation that doesn’t lend itself to bringing along a computer. But you will almost certainly have your mobile phone on you at all times.

Where to download the Viam mobile app

With that in mind, Viam is happy to announce that we have released a mobile application, available for download now in the Apple and Google Play app stores, which takes a big step towards making the management of your smart machines more convenient. If smart machines can enhance our lives from anywhere, why shouldn’t the people managing them be able to do so from anywhere too?

The Viam mobile app in action

A simple example drawn from my own life as a product manager at Viam and a hobbyist smart machine developer will help illustrate how handy the Viam mobile application can be. About a year ago, I built a smart machine called “Shady Friend” that opened and closed my window shades at my apartment. To be honest, I built this machine out of sheer laziness - I just didn’t want to have to walk over to my window and pull the beaded cord, which often got jammed, up and down to open and close the shades.

Say hello to my shady friend

I started this process by connecting my smart machine to a Google Home so that I could ask it to open my shades when I woke up, with the eventual goal of opening and closing shades based on sunrise and sunset times. 

I also spent a lot of time building a hardware solution where I could long press the down button until the shades were closed, or long press the up button until they reached a desired height that could be anywhere from slightly to fully open

However, in practice this turned out to be annoying, since it still required me to actually walk over to the shades to adjust them, and essentially defeated the purpose of the smart machine saving me effort in the first place.

More convenient, but still requires getting up.

The good news, at least for my laziness, is that we already offered a remote control option on Theoretically, I could lounge on the couch, pull out my laptop to go to the Viam app, click on its motor component, and press a button to move the shades until they reached the height I desired, at which point I would press the stop button.

Adjusting my shades on the Viam computer app - more convenient still, but I don’t take my computer everywhere

However, that didn’t make things optimally convenient either. The laptop I would need to access the Viam app would most likely be on my desk, far away from my comfy spot on the sofa. 

Until recently, that was my only option. Thankfully, we now have the Viam Mobile App, which is already doing a lot to make smart machines smarter, and in more labor-saving ways to boot! 

Closing my shades through the Viam mobile app - getting up no longer required! 

With the new mobile app, I can access my “shady-friend” smart machine. Once there, I navigate to the motor component (which happens to be the only component on this very simple smart machine) and use my phone’s touch screen to drag the handy motor joystick to the right until the shades are open to the desired height. Then when I let go, the motor will stop moving. When I am ready to go to sleep, I simply drag the joystick in the opposite direction until the shades are closed.

Viam mobile app use cases

I am used to doing a wide variety of daily tasks with my mobile phone, and being able to seamlessly control my smart machines from it as well makes Viam easy to integrate into my routine. Whether I have one or a whole fleet of shady friend machines, the Viam mobile app also supports a wide variety of features to easily manage them, including standard SSO and logins, a single pane of glass for viewing all machines and their locations, full data on the status of the machine and its components, and much more.

Life before smart machines at my window - not optimal!

While my smart machine use case is simple - and arguably not one of the world’s many pressing problems - the Viam mobile app’s remote control functionality is even more useful in situations where bringing along a computer near your robots out in the field is not feasible, appropriate, or safe. 

The Viam mobile application has a lot of built-in functionality, but there may be a feature we didn’t foresee that you would want to include when developing your smart machine application. Conveniently, the Viam mobile app is built with our own public Flutter SDK, which means that you can leverage Viam’s flexible APIs to customize your own Flutter version of the application tailored to your needs. 

For example, let’s say that you wanted to create your own shady friend machine with an even simpler UI, with three button options to set the shades as “fully open,” “half open,” or “fully closed.” Viam makes this kind of mobile application customization easy, which comes in handy if you want to market and sell smart machines to end users who may be less technically savvy than the machine’s creators.

Try the Viam mobile app now

Want to try remote control through Viam’s mobile application for yourself? Just download the application for Apple or Android, create a Viam account or log in with your existing credentials, go to our Try Viam tab, and click on the “Try Now” button. 

In less than a minute you could be remotely controlling a Viam machine in our office, and seeing how easy it is to drive it around, move its motors, or turn on different camera views. Give it a whirl, and then imagine controlling your own smart machines from your phone just as easily. How would fleet management from your mobile phone make running your smart machine-based business easier?

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