At Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) 2021, In-Situ is highlighting the VuLink telemetry device. The company is also holding a webinar, entitled How VuLink Telemetry Revoluntionises Remote Water Data Collection, during the virtual event. Matt Trumbo, software and solutions product manager at In-Situ, shares more about the journey to bring this product to market, and the promise of a solution that addresses a host of problems in environmental remote monitoring.
How long have you been working on VuLink, and why was it the right product to develop?
Matt Trumbo: VuLink has been in development for about two and a half years, but the concept of how to do telemetry right is something we’ve been working on and talking about with customers since I started here six years ago.
Right now, something like 10% of users are connecting their instruments to telemetry, which is kind of shocking when you consider how long it’s been around. The reason is because it’s been too complicated and expensive for people to mess with. It’s a usability problem, which we set out to solve. We thought we could come up with the right product to make our customers’ lives easier for a lower cost of ownership. And we’ve done that.
What were the design priorities?
Trumbo: First and foremost, we wanted to make sure that device status was available at a glance. Users had to know for sure that the unit was working when they walked away. A bunch of green lights telling you that everything is connected and you’ll have data when you get back to your office is very reassuring.
The second thing was cost. This was an opportunity to develop a dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) solution that’s less expensive and easier to use because it doesn’t require solar panels or a complex mounting solution to deploy. Something you simply slip into a tube or well and turn on can lower costs dramatically.
We put a ton of effort into the design of this product to ensure it addresses all the problems our customers identified. I encourage people to visit the VuLink page at In-Situ for a full list of features.
Who is VuLink for?
Trumbo: The simple answer is, ‘everybody’. Right now, telemetry within the realm of environmental monitoring is a niche area. Our goal is to bring the power and convenience of a cloud-based solution to everyone. People who’ve thought that data transfer isn’t something they want to mess with can now have a simple solution for less than cost of a monitoring instrument. Frankly, VuLink is for everyone who does and doesn’t thinking it’s for them.
What was the reaction to VuLink from beta customers?
Trumbo: We run beta programmes on our instruments to verify accuracy, assess user experience, and uncover any outstanding technical issues. This is data transport, so accuracy wasn’t a factor, but the reaction on usability was really positive – along the lines of, “I see what you’re trying to do, and I love it”.
We’ve confirmed that we have a product that works for people who don’t have time to become telemetry experts. We took advantage of the beta process to troubleshoot in a few areas. And by getting it into the hands of customers around the world, we’ve been able to take a multi-cultural approach to make sure VuLink works equally well for everyone. That’s something we’re really committed to.
Why was In-Situ the right company to make VuLink?
Trumbo: There are hundreds of remote monitoring companies doing IoT, but what makes us the right company to develop telemetry for environmental monitoring is that while some companies provide just part of the solution, we do the whole thing.
We listened to customers and understand that people want complete solutions where all the parts work together. That’s really at the crux of it — the way to solve most problems. And we’re really the only company that can do that, because our products are homegrown. We’ve designed the instruments, the telemetry and the software so it all works together.
Also, because we’re privately held, I think we’re able to take a longer view of the universe. We can look at where technology is going and the long-term needs of our customers. We really take the time to understand the problems customers are having, and then we do the work to solve them.
Speaking of solutions, what are some of the changes you’ve made to HydroVu?
Trumbo: Our new self-signup model for HydroVu gives the user more flexibility and makes it easier than ever to start using your data. But let’s be clear: HydroVu, VuSitu, our instruments and VuLink aren’t disparate pieces; they’re all one thing — one product.
That’s the point I really want to drive home here. Instead of dealing with multiple steps, each of which requires a degree of expertise, your setup is a QR code scan and a button press. That’s it! We’ve taken a modern approach to cloud-based infrastructure and created nothing short of a new paradigm.
Trumbo: The process of collecting data about the environment and turning it into useful information should be a single thing that you do, because that’s how our customers view their work — with the end in mind. We’ve created that experience, and we’re pretty excited about it.
I’d also add that it’s easy to see a product launch as the end of a journey, but for us it’s the beginning. You can see that in our other products. We’re constantly adding value, improving our software, taking feedback and thinking about what we can do better.
VuLink gives us the chance to do even more than that, and we’ll continue to work with our customers to make refine and improve our solutions. We’re not focused on the final step. We’re focused on the next step.