Our Work

Bringing voice recognition to facilities management

As an innovation research partner, Digital Scientists successfully designed and built a tablet-based, voice-activated inventory management app and ordering interface in less than three months.

The challenge

HD Supply, one of the largest industrial distributors in North America, faced a critical challenge from online retail giant Amazon. To stay competitive, it needed to identify new opportunities for growth. The company’s leadership determined that it must transition from a distributor and supplier role to that of an integrated service provider.

When HD Supply approached us, the company lacked an integrated system that would allow property managers to identify and manage assets, inventory, or tasks assigned to maintenance personnel. The company needed a single platform with the ability to:

  • predict inventory replenishments and part malfunction
  • search for and buy parts on the spot
  • collect facility data along with integrating an e-commerce and distribution system

That’s where we came in.

HDS logo

What we did

Together with HD Supply, we ran through a detailed exercise that would envision the role of a property maintenance manager 5 – 10 years from now. Instead of focusing on the transaction of buying supplies, we zoomed out.

The team envisioned property maintenance managers as using augmented reality to diagnose maintenance problems in a unit, image recognition to identify specific parts, and voice recognition to be able to place orders.

Through this process, we worked to identify the first-phase solutions that could be developed and launched with relative ease and speed. Because technicians themselves had limited access to technology, the best way to start was to make the storeroom smart. So we worked with the company to create a beta test of an app that would run on an iPad located in the storerooms.




Engagements

  • Innovation for hire
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Mobile app development
  • MVP




Technology Stack

  • React Native
  • Native App for iOS Devices
  • Native App for Android Devices
  • Snowboy Hotword Detection
  • Swagger




Experiences Delivered

  • Responsive Desktop & Mobile App
  • Dashboard Interface
  • Hotword Detection
  • Contextual Voice Command
  • Locations

Voice-activated inventory management app and ordering interface

Common supply room actions are listed prominently on the dashboard. Voice appliance responds to touch or voice commands after the hotword “Hey FM.”

To activate, technicians say the hotword, followed by a command. Requests are displayed below on the command bar at the bottom of the screen. Contextual voice help is always available, just ask “Hey FM: What can I do?”

Search results for a given requests are displayed. Techs can scroll to select an item, or say “Next,” to display the next set of paginated results.

Voice activation

Search, browse & buy with just your voice.

Details are shown for a given item such as pricing, inventory levels, and storeroom order history. See what is in local storeroom inventory or buy without even a click.

Inventory

Outcome

Our client was able to open the lines of communication, alerting customers that innovation and efficiencies are on the way. In just over 90 days we built a functional prototype that showed our client’s customers it was serious about innovation and adding value.

Benefits to our approach:

  • A more efficient inventory management system
  • Increased customer and guest satisfaction scores
  • Better inventory planning
  • Detailed customer data around where and what inventory items are needed

While other companies begin at the wrong point and build an app without talking to customers first, the HD Supply team acknowledged the importance of focusing on the customer first and started the process with a deep understanding of its customers’ needs.

Learn more about our approach to software development for manufacturing companies.