Digging tunnels, building new living locations, drilling for oil, or facilitating the release of geothermal energy: all of these projects can only be realised safely on the basis of a detailed knowledge of soil conditions. TNO (the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) has been engaged in soil research since 1932. All knowledge data acquired during TNO’s studies is stored in the Kernhuis in Soest (the Netherlands). This is important information that needs to be protected well. For this purpose, Egeniq built a smart app.
A challenging request
TNO’s request was simple: ‘being able to quickly and efficiently add new samples or adapt existing ones’. There were, however, a number of areas of concern that made our job a bit more complicated:
- TNO’s earth layer drilling samples that are analysed for their composition are stored in racks.
- New samples are often also kept in the Kernhuis.
The complexity of our task ahead became clear when we learned about the particular characteristics of soil drillings. These drillings have the form of blocks or strips of soil and stone with a considerable molecular density, and are stored in wooden containers. As a result, they block a large part of the signals required to transfer the data via Wifi and VPN to the central database.
An app that is simple and smart
Each soil drilling has a unique barcode. For checking-in and checking-out samples, TNO’s staff members use a Bluetooth-based infrared scanner. Step one was to connect this Bluetooth scanner to the app. In order to make the app run smoothly without good Wifi- and VPN-connections, we integrated a number of smart solutions. These additions enable the proper synchronisation of the information between the app and the database, even when the signal coverage is bad.
We aimed to keep the app as straightforward and simple as possible, so that it would be easy and fun to work with for all of TNO’s employees. So, no frustrations resulting from a lack of signal or because countless steps have to be followed before a sample’s check-in or check-out can be properly executed. And by using Google’s material design guidelines, we maximised the app’s user-friendliness. An additional benefit is that the users of the app have on-screen access to the buffer status, status updates, and the status of the scan-tasks from and to the database. In brief: a straightforward app that is crystal clear in its use.