Nerves in Action at Le Tote
One of Nerves’ first success stories starts in a Biergarten in Germany. While in Europe for an Elixir conference, I had dinner with Lance Halvorsen, currently the senior software architect at Le Tote and the author of a book called Functional Web Development with Elixir, OTP, and Phoenix: Rethink the Modern Web App. After talking about everything from better development practices to motorcycles, Lance told me he was getting ready to go work for an online women's clothing rental company called Le Tote, and they needed an embedded engineer.
Lance asked me, “How would you like to work on Nerves full time?" and I think I said something along the lines of “Yes, a thousand times yes.”
Lance’s promise to me rang true: while at Le Tote, I spent a majority of my time working to improve the Nerves framework, and it was during this time that Frank and I also built NervesHub, our device management service. This work was not only fun for me but great for the business.
At Le Tote, I worked with Lance and a lot of other awesome teammates, using Nerves to build out the logistics and warehousing portion of the company’s process. Surprisingly, there are not a lot of off-the-shelf solutions for warehouse management that accommodate for a rental model, where most of the items that leave the warehouse return. Le Tote needed to account for each item and monitor it throughout its lifecycle, including things like re-steaming, pressing, and finally packaging the garments.
Le Tote kept track of each item through barcode scanners, but this method wasn’t meeting Le Tote’s high standards for efficiency. Each garment has many touch points in its warehouse lifecycle, and the barcodes on each item of clothing were tiny, hidden on the back of the tag. Employees had to find and scan each individual tag at each touchpoint, adding a lot of unnecessary time to the production cycle.
Le Tote brought us on to help them develop and implement an RFID system to more efficiently track their product. And here’s where Nerves really shines: in addition to building this custom RFID solution, we used Nerves to build web based kiosk systems to guide employees with all kinds of tasks all across the warehouse.
Nerves made developing the kiosk system incredibly easy because it helps apply the principles of web development to hardware. We could take web developers and “trick” them into becoming embedded engineers by having them create web apps which would then be run on top of a Chromeless Chrome window that's rendered on a device’s display.
This approach allowed us to then be able to create rapid prototyping mechanisms. We were able to replace a third-party vendor for pack stations and receiving workstations within months by being able to rapidly develop and iterate on our own software and deploy it so quickly and easily. We have also found that by using Nerves, system reliability and up time drastically increased.
What Brought Me to Very, and What’s Next for the Nerves Project?
What’s next for Nerves? Well, that brings me to the reason I’m writing this blog — to share how I arrived at Very.
I’ve been interested in Very for awhile, ever since I learned about the Hop project, where the team used Nerves to build the first-ever beer kiosk powered by facial recognition. As someone who brews their own beer at home, the project was exciting to me, and every time I would see Very employees at conferences, they’d tell me about another new, innovative product they were building.
Honestly, I got really jealous. I was very eager to work on innovative new projects using Nerves in production.
That yearning for more, plus the awareness that Nerves is ready to take the next step in its evolution, motivated me to keep researching Very.
The final push for me came during the Gig City Elixir conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You know, people say that Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love, but I think Chattanooga is definitely in the running. Everyone I spoke to from Very spoke highly of one another, and of management, which was refreshing and amazing to hear.
I started talking more in-depth with the senior engineering leaders at Very, and about the huge potential for Nerves to grow as we use it to benefit Very’s diverse clients — from IIoT for manufacturing companies to consumer IoT.
And now here I am, joining the team. I can’t wait to see where this role takes me, Nerves, Very, and most importantly, our clients.
By the way — if you’re ready to start your IoT project with some Nerves experts, drop us a line today.