Kalay: Holding hands, staying connected

Kalay: Holding hands, staying connected
As ThroughTek continues to propel its specialized adhoc online (peer-to-peer) technology for optimum overall solutions, its open IoT platform “Kalay” continues to break new milestones at unprecedented pace – having reached over four million managed devices to date with more than 60 million connections each month.

As a relatively young cloud platform design house set up only seven years ago, ThroughTek (known as TUTK) is sweeping the Internet-of-Things by storm, promulgating its P2P (peer-to-peer) and Relay experience in the video surveillance arena.

“We can offer solutions that integrate P2P and relay server capabilities in any designated space,” said ThroughTek CEO and President Patrick Kuo. According to him, as demands for multimedia applications have increased in the IoT, the implementation of P2P technology has surged in recent years.

The “Kalay” enigma

Derived from Taiwan’s indigenous Yami people, the word “kalay” means “holding hands.” Conceived under such idea, the company hopes to keep all devices connected in the IoT sphere using one simple software solution hence the aptly-named Kalay platform was born.

ThroughTek’s Kalay platform integration leverages a wealth of APIs (Application Programming Interface) for a growing variety of operating systems, thereby quickly and easily incorporating a wide variety of devices into online applications. The range of Kalay platform applications includes surveillance, personal cloud storage, smart homes, and consumer electronics.

Kalay is an innovative cloud-based open platform catered to enterprise and consumer applications, including smart retail, smart building, health care, surveillance, wearable devices, home automation, personal storage, and home security. It features a modular and scalable architecture that allows quick rollout of new services.

Openness

“The main strength of Kalay lies in its open IoT platform,” Kuo said. “An open platform is a software system which is based on open standards, such as published and fully documented external application programming interfaces (API) that allow using the software to function in other ways than the original programmer intended, without requiring modification of the source code.”

“For Kalay platform, we provide the developers with open SDK,” noted Kuo.

Using an open platform a developer could add features or functionality that the platform vendor had not completed or had not conceived of. An open platform allows the developer to change existing functionality, as the specifications are publicly available open standards.

Core modules

Reflecting on Kalay’s open structure, its platform could offer customized solutions or selected modules to the customer depending on the application and request.

Kuo highlighted VSaas, Logic Engine, TPNS server and Device Management modules in Kalay Cloud. VSaaS (Video Surveillance as a Service) provides a one-stop service including P2P real-time live viewing and cloud recording with the integration of video analytic tools.

"Kalay’s cloud recording is back-end compatible with all brands and models of IP cameras,” he added.

According to ThroughTek, contrary to P2P, network camera maker Dropcam utilizes streaming server to access recorded multimedia.

"Streaming server used for surveillance is outdated. Stream server existed because at the time there was no cloud. Today, P2P provides an alternative approach to multimedia streaming. However, in certain cases the stream server is still required.”

About Logic Engine, the Kalay platform boasts of similar concept of IFTTT (If This Then That) for task synergy in smart home. Using Logic Engine, its platform can automatically activate tasks to happen on devices on different locations, collect all the rules for data analytics, and also work with third-party applications.

"Our platform can record logics from third party applications and then use SPIs to enter the settings on Kalay,” Kuo claimed.

One possible example is to integrate the web service of real time weather report. The home gateway sends the command to turn on the air conditioner and close the window according to different predefined scenarios. "Put simply, we can integrate third-party applications such as Google Map, Yahoo Weather into our platform," Kuo said.

TPNS server, on the other hand, is one of key demands from most smart home providers. TPNS enables highly customizable push messages including scheduled and targeted push messaging. Its flexible push notification system can work on different push networks such as the Apple Push Notification Service, Google Cloud Messaging, and Baidu.

"One of the other major strengths of the Kalay platform is that it can provide push notifications in rich notification forms, images and videos in particular," he stressed.

The Device Management module further enables device makers to improve the user experience by examining the usage data collected from the connected devices.

Other than the four highlighted modules, Kalay’s Service Programming Interface (SPI) is noteworthy. It provides seamless communication and connectivity. It is a service in the Kalay platform that allows it to act as a client to communicate with ThroughTek UID-enable devices while enabling the system operation in any web browsers.

"Devices can all interconnect and interoperate through our Kalay cloud without issue,” Kuo said.

Using UID via P2P

A unique identifier (UID) is a numeric or alphanumeric string that is associated with a single entity within a given system. UIDs make it possible to address that entity, so that it can be accessed and interacted with.

Like logging into Skype or any other similar programs where an ID password is required, Kalay employs simple UIDs to establish connectivity between two devices.

“Using this technology, users only need to scan a barcode and input a password to connect their phone to the home controller or standalone device, all from within the app,” Kuo said, adding that with UID its software platform can transmit recorded video directly to a mobile device via P2P without having to go through a cloud server.

Kalay Box – personal cloud box

Cloud storage has been one of the greatest things to come out of the IoT evolution. Examples of services such as Dropbox consist of cloudbased services for user identity and management, data storage, access, and management, and application programmatic interfaces (APIs.)

The concept of the Kalay box is based on cloud storage, a private personal storage solution that is derived of security issues. Kalay Box transform the portable hard drive or USB flash drive into personal NAS or mini NAS without complicated network setting.

“The Kalay Box is a private NVR solution for the masses. It’s catered to those who do not necessarily have to know about NAS, DDNS, Port Mapping, and other complicated terminologies. The Kalay Box is easy to understand and use. On the contrary, NAS is more suited for small businesses or techies.”

“Networking device should be easy to use in order to reach mass adoption in a smart home,” Kuo added.

Under-tapped market

“Our customers care about three things: First, economics – it has to be affordable. Second is security. And third is performance. I want to be able to recover and see data at a reasonable rate. We’re intrinsically faster because we use P2P connections. We are more secure because we provide encryptions at both ends of transmission and device with no single point of failure,” Kuo said.

P2P is largely an under-tapped area in the smart home because there aren’t many software platform providers that deal with both P2P and relay server.

“Using P2P, ThroughTek provides comprehensive platform services and solutions to suit different modules.”

IC makers, brand name companies, device manufacturers and solution providers have all chosen to adopt the ThroughTek platform solution. Qualcomm, MediaTek, Broadcom, Intel, Ambarella, Hisilicon, TI and NXP are some of their major IC partners.

Another proven track record of Kalay is its exceptional time-to-market through an unmatched chipset vendor ecosystem already supporting more than 80 SoCs.

“Kalay currently manages more than 4 million devices with over 60 million connections a month,” ThroughTek’s CEO proudly stated.

Currently, the company is working on providing its Kalay platform for energy-saving operating systems (RTOS) in wearables.

“Wearables are fast becoming the next big thing. And as such always-on devices require fast start-up, RTOS is what they need to operate on.”

According to Kuo, chipmakers RealTek and MediaTek are some of their working partners in this respect.

“Kalay’s total solution is not limited to home automation and personal cloud. On the long run, we will definitely look for even more possibilities to integrate our solutions with wearable devices.”

Moving ahead

Home electronic appliances in a smart home is quickly catching on with Samsung, LG and GE spearheading ahead with the launch of new smart TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, and so forth. Kuo said all the major electronics companies are working on their own smart home devices.

It will also link to smart door locks, allowing people to open the front door by talking to their smart watch or phone, he added.

Despite the prevalence of connected devices and the growing potential of intelligent home electronic appliances, the smart home mass adoption is a little far away in the distance. To all companies in the game, the core sentiment remains the same – to efficiently promote smart home awareness is the most important element of a smarter living.
While working with telco, channel players and retailers in the international market, ThroughTek looks forward to partnering with home electronic appliances makers, including those in Europe and US. Home appliances certainly have a great future.”

At first, there was the smartphone, and then came along the smart home. Soon, there will be raves about smart buildings and ultimately looking at the bigger picture, smart cities, Kuo concluded.

“Either way, we are open to all opportunities, open to all businesses regardless of sector.”
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