Blackout

Tackling one of the world’s biggest challenges faced by schools and workplaces – the unauthorised use of mobile phones.

Blackout’s founders came to Somo after three other companies told them their product couldn’t be built using today’s platforms. But, with the support and security offered by AWS, we found a way.

The Vision

Blackout Technologies founders approached Somo after being told by other companies that their product could not be built. Blackout wanted to build a solution to empower employers and educators to selectively and automatically prohibit the use of cameras, voice recorders and web browsers and prevent access to unauthorised messaging and social media apps based on user location.

Industry Landscape

The mobile phone is now an integral part of most people's lives. Smart devices can cause a huge distraction both at school, college, and in the workplace. Millions of hours are lost for both productivity at work and education, but – as smartphones are here to stay – creating innovative solutions to help employers and educational institutions tackle this problem will become a huge marketplace.

Challenge

The first challenge to overcome as a start-up was finding a partner who shared the same passion about the product and, importantly, the complex technical skillset to create the product from scratch.

Approach

With Somo’s Modern Engineering and innovation-led thinking at the heart of the experimental process, we developed an industry-first – a brand new technology that combined advanced techniques to overcome complex challenges of platform compatibility, interoperability, data sensitivity and hyper-accurate location determination.

With iOS having no native capability of achieving what we needed, we had to get creative. We used a technical process to develop the solution from the ground up while keeping Android architecture in mind to build the product.

We built out a full infrastructure automation suite for Blackout to provision highly elastic and redundant configurations from EC2, S3, and RDS. Rigorous application of best practice allowed us to leverage the many strong and overlapping security layers that AWS provides through the likes of VPS and KMS. We opted to use Jenkins for CI but also hosted it on AWS compute infrastructure to enable rapid build/test cycles.

Business Outcomes

Since its launch, Blackout Technologies has gone from strength to strength, working with global companies and prestigious schools to pilot the product. Last year, the product was recognised by the DADI awards, winning the Best Innovation in Technology category.

Additionally, off the back of our work, AWS chose to highlight Blackout at their flagship UK event of 2019. This brought tremendous visibility to the product and team through event materials and attendance. The strength and trust behind the AWS brand has made it easier for Blackout to sell their novel product into often conservative enterprise customers and Somo’s optimisation work has made it easy for Blackout to maintain a low price point despite the interaction-dense nature of the platform.

Impact

  • 32%
    increase of users’ monthly productivity in the workplace
  • 35%
    increase of users’ average hourly revenue generation in the workplace

What the client said

"

Somo’s technical interrogation and innovation overcame seemingly impossible challenges and brought our product to life. We’re in the early stages, but the early results confirm that the need is there and the solution is Blackout.

Charles Watson
Co-founder & COO at Blackout Technologies