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1059 Wealthy Street SE, Suite 202
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
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"We were looking for a good partner and we were fortunate to find Engine to help us to create a back end for the sites so we are able to manage our content effectively and efficiently while the front end is aesthetically pleasing to the eye."
Kasie Smith
Kasie Smith
Serendipity Media, LLC
"The difference is in the details, and the team at Engine sweats the details. From design concept until the last "i" is dotted and "t" is crossed, Engine is creative and efficient in getting the job done. After three major website updates and multiple small projects, I can say with conviction: Engine consistently brings creative ideas to life."
Steve Wierenga
Steve Wierenga
Ajacs Die Sales Corporation
REVUE Magazine
REVUE Magazine
REVUE Magazine reinvents itself monthly as the premier guide for music, arts, food and drink in West Michigan, and its online presence mirrors that creative energy. Engine delivered a website design that takes into account the need for speed, flexibility and striking graphics that can be switched out in a snap.
Holland Board of Public Works
Holland Board of Public Works
The Holland Board of Public Works sought to improve its outreach to its some 75,000 customers who use electricity, water and wastewater treatment services. Engine responded with a customized website that allows BPW staff to update information quickly -- a critical feature in emergencies.
Ajacs Die Sales needed to cut the time it took to maintain online catalogs of parts from more than 50 leading suppliers of industrial goods, yet keep its website inviting to visitors. Engine developed front and back end systems that balanced both needs perfectly.
Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery
Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery
Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery wanted to improve the time it took for customers to order menu items over the phone or online, so it turned to Engine to integrate three separate ordering methods into one seamless system.
Van's Sports
Van's Sports
As one of the largest marine OEMs in the Midwest,Van’s Sports Center sought to streamline access to several databases involving more than 15 million parts. Engine provided the knowhow to integrate all the information into one smooth system.
Toburen Law
Toburen Law
Attorney Mike Toburen needed to raise his online profile in a crowded West Michigan marketplace for legal services. He turned to Engine to create a website that conveys competence and confidence through clean design and great content.
Divani wanted a dynamic website that captured the bar/restaurant’s comfy, yet playful, personality. Engine responded to the challenge with a website design that acted as a perfect backdrop for strong or subtle images that could be swapped out easily to mark different promotions.

Vroom -- The Digital News Bureau of Engine

Our Approach

Pete Hoffswell thinks it’s better for miniature robotic sensors to do the talkin’ rather than public utility employees to do the walkin’ as they assess how the city of Holland’s 5-mile-long snowmelt system is operating during the winter.

By installing paver blocks that transmit temperature and moisture conditions by radio at key points along the walkway, the Holland Board of Public Works may be able to better manage energy distribution and possibly save tens of thousands of dollars a year, said Hoffswell, Broadband Services Manager for the city-owned utility.

Unveiled this morning at the StartUp Weekend event held in Grand Rapids, Hoffswell’s ‘smart brick’ was one concrete example of how cities are working to improve their communities with a new technology that allows cheap microcontrollers to send and receive data over the internet – without the need for WiFi or 3G cellular service.

Start Garden, host of the StartUp Weekend event, sponsored a morning seminar at its offices to inform inventors and entrepreneurs about the technology and offer practical advice on how to harness its possibilities.

Start Garden, Steelcase Inc. and the city of Grand Rapids collaborated on the installation of a shoebox-sized device atop a four-story parking garage in downtown Grand Rapids that allows any member of the public to send and receive data using a radio frequency protocol called LoRaWAN and a way to analyze and store data through The Things Network. Cities around the world are using the system to track everything from trash collection to environmental conditions.

Startup IOT Hoffswell ResizedPete Hoffswell holds his smart brick that may manage energy better. Anyone roughly within a ½ mile radius of the transceiver at 40 Pearl St. can send data via long-range, low-power radio waves from remote locations throughout the downtown area without WiFi codes, mobile subscriptions or setup costs, said Austin Dean, operations director at Start Garden. Grand Rapids is the first city in Michigan to offer the new technology though The Things Network to the public.

Here’s how the Grand Rapids system works. A battery-powered sensor package in a remote location detects a change in its environment, encrypts the data and transmits it via radio waves to the Start Garden gateway. The gateway has a hardwired connection to the internet, and the data is sent to The Things Network, where is it stored on the organization’s server for retrieval and further action. It’s also possible to enter a command that can be sent through same network back to the sensor package.

“There are some really neat possibilities with the system” said Chris Samuelson, Iot Solution Architect with SpinDance in Holland who was teaching attendees how to make sensor packages and connect with The Things Network. “It can do predictive maintenance for roads and bridges, track air quality, do all sorts of things. And the beauty of the system is you don’t need to know anything about radio, protocols or electrical engineering to get started.”

That point was emphasized by Hoffswell, who said it took less than 2 weeks to figure out how to use the data package and set up the snowmelt monitoring system on the internet. “For instance, I didn’t have to figure out how to program the package because there are already programs written you can use,” he said. ““I knew nothing about the online programming, AT&T’s online Flow service and these particular data services before this project, but they were easy to learn and use.” Here’s a link to the specifics of how Hoffswell made his device: Smart Brick.

Hoffswell, who leads a group of technology enthusiasts in Holland called the Lakeshore Makers, used a different radio transmission package and network than the Start Garden gateway, but he is working on the next iteration of the device that will employ LoRaWAN for his smart brick. 

Applications abound for the new technology, he said. “When I asked how did we know how well (the snowmelt system) was working, the guys said ‘we get in a truck, drive around and look’,” Hoffswell said. “I thought this may improve the system.” He explained that the Holland Board of Public Works may be able to adjust the source of hot water that melts snow on streets and sidewalks in downtown Holland during the winter – the largest publicly owned snowmelt system in the United States.

With the Holland system, waste heat from power generation is captured as hot water and sent though miles of tubing to melt the snow. However, there are occasions when it is cheaper to buy electricity over the power grid and reduce energy usage at the Holland power plant. The utility uses an auxiliary boiler to keep the snowmelt system operating when it buys power, and radio sensors can signal when to fire up the auxiliary boiler.

One entrepreneur listening to the presentation asked Hoffswell if he thought the gateway could be used for the snow removal system on the Grand Rapids S-curve. “That may be a great application. Having a gateway like this will open up all sorts of possibilities,” he said. “People will start dreaming up all kinds of ideas. It’s really not hard to build the nodes.”

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