BDigital Used Pre-Integrated WSO2 Middleware Products to Mediate Services Across the Cloud and Internet of Things, as Well as Manage APIs, Applications, and Identity
Senior citizens—many in fragile health and requiring assistance—often have limited resources for managing their health, participating in society, and ensuring their security. The Ambient Assisted
Living (AAL) Joint Programme is committed to addressing these challenges through Active Ageing initiatives using information and communications technologies (ICT) that enhance the quality of life of the elderly.
One of the organizations supporting AAL in its efforts is the non-profit Barcelona Digital Technology
Center (BDigital) with research and development and technology transfer services in the fields of
healthcare, security, mobility, energy, and food and environment. BDigital provides smart solutions
with high added value for therapy management, disease prevention and healthy habit promotion
through its three lines of specialization: Integrated Continuous Care, Personalized Computational
Medicine, and Active Independent Living (AIL).
Recently, BDigital developed eKauri, a non-invasive e-health and smart home platform, that empowers
seniors to gain autonomy, participate in modern society, and achieve independence through ICTbased
solutions. To deliver its services, the cloud-enabled eKauri takes advantage of credit-card sized
Raspberry Pi computers and Z-Wave wireless home automation devices. It also relies on four products
from the 100% open source WSO2 Carbon enterprise middleware platform: WSO2 API Manager, WSO2
Identity Server, WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (WSO2 ESB) and WSO2 Application Server.
Needed: A Full Solution for Senior Services
In Spain, where BDigital is based, the market for senior living is underdeveloped and faces limited
resources for the elderly. Through eKauri, the organization is helping to address this issue by
helping to facilitate active aging in ambient assisted living scenarios using normal communications
As a reference for its own eKauri platform, BDigital turned to the SAAPHO European research and
development (R&D) project aimed at promoting active aging and improving the quality of life of the
elderly. Seeking to take SAAPHO to the next level, BDigital’s platform has focused on improving senior:
- Participation: through video call services, such as WebRTC, seniors can communicate with
relatives, friends and professionals easily.
- Healthcare: monitoring senior medical routines to support and provide services, which are
managed by third-party professionals who use the platform’s APIs.
- Smart Home Security: using ambient sensors and parameters, ambient data is collected for
emergency detection and action to ensure safety and protection.
Three years of development led BDigital to produce a pilot that would serve as a foundation for
its eKauri solution. Although the pilot was a success, the company knew it would need to adopt
technology solutions that could handle the greater scale required for a full production solution.
“The main objective of our pilot project was to make a proof of concept that would work for a limited
number of users and roles,” recalled Joan Protasio, AIL software engineer of the BDigital e-health R&D
group. “But for the final product, we needed a scalable solution that would be able to live on for years
and serve the different roles of users.”
Weighing Options for Scalability
To support the production version of its eKauri platform, the BDigital team explored open source
offerings from Apache, Oracle, and WSO2, evaluating each for their scalability and ability to support
growth of the system.
After running a few concept tests in-house, BDigital knew that WSO2’s Carbon middleware platform
was the right fit for its eKauri platform. Not only was it fully open source and scalable, but WSO2
offered an OSGi-compliant architecture and decoupled schema, which would provide greater
development and deployment flexibility. Similarly, because all WSO2 middleware products are built on
the same Carbon core code, BDigital’s programmers found them easier to understand.
At the same time, WSO2’s platform provided support for a broad range of industry standards.
Together with WSO2’s large user community and frequent product updates, this gave the BDigital
team the confidence that they were working with a leading-edge solution.
“Although each offering we evaluated could deliver on scale, we wanted a solution that could help
us go that extra mile of innovation,” Mr. Protasio noted. “WSO2 offered more solutions and modular
products that were easier to work with, which made it the clear choice.”
A Detailed Design Process
Before designing the schema of its eKauri solution, BDigital carefully studied WSO2’s framework and
consulted WSO2 white papers to ensure best practices.
“This was a key moment for us, so we dedicated many efforts to researching and developing the right
schema for our product,” Mr. Protasio noted.
Based on a RESTful architecture, BDigital’s decoupled schema follows an API façade that works with
WSO2 API Manager, WSO2 Identity Server, WSO2 ESB and WSO2 Application Server. The company also
uses Apache ActiveMQ for optimized reliability using message persistence. Additionally, BDigital works
with Z-Wave sensors—deploying four or five sensors per smart home—and a Raspberry Pi computer
to collect user data. The company follows the S35 protocol for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Because IoT devices have limited computational capabilities, data is transmitted from the Z-Wave
sensors and Raspberry Pi to eKauri applications and supporting middleware, which all run in the cloud
as virtual machine images.
“Our product version addresses both professionals and patients—offering a wide variety of services
and possibilities for seniors, including smart home security, healthcare and user participation,” Mr.
Protasio explained. “WSO2’s architecture allows us to manage and maintain all of this unique user
intelligence and calculations in the cloud.”
Rapid Implementation with WSO2 Middleware
A distinct advantage of the WSO2 middleware products is that they are part of the fully componentized
WSO2 Carbon enterprise middleware platform. As a result, they are
pre-integrated, share the same core functionality, and are interoperable and highly configurable.
“Since all WSO2 products extend from its Carbon base, it created a seamless environment that allowed
for our programmers to rapidly gain an understanding of the technology as well as accelerate our
integration and product development,” Mr. Protasio observed. “As a result, we were able to complete
the first minimally viable version of our product three months ahead of schedule.”
The WSO2 support team also played a key role in facilitating BDigital’s development, Mr. Protasio
observed: “When you are developing a project, knowledgeable professionals are a valuable resource.
WSO2 support provided great service and was a key player in accelerating our project.”
Delivering Innovative Services
Today BDigital’s eKauri platform is composed of two main modules: the patient application and a care
center module that has different interfaces for caregivers and managers.
The patient application provides a range of services activated by the user, including a home media
center, tools for taking measurements and reviewing the last results, video calls, calendar, and tool
for managing contacts. Additionally, sensors monitor TV viewing, food and water consumption, hours
asleep, physical activity, and temperature. Sensors also monitor the environment and trigger an alert
if there is, for example, a fire. If there is an issue with a patient or the patient’s home, the sensor can
trigger an alert, not only to the appropriate caregiver, but to external care centers and a designated
“All of the calculations for this Ambient Intelligence (AmI) are done in the cloud,” Mr. Protasio notes.
The care center module gives caregivers a dashboard for managing patients, a list of patients, a profile
of each patient, and a tool for managing patient alarms. Meanwhile the module provides managers
with the results of patient monitoring, reports that track the progress in a patient’s monitoring over
time, notes about caregivers, and questions for the patient.
“By providing insights into senior users, our eKauri platform serves as an extension of security
and care and offers critical communications to professional healthcare workers, as well as other
caregivers, such as family members or neighbors.”
Optimizing Scalability, Security and Performance with WSO2
Behind the scenes, four WSO2 products drive services across the eKauri platform. Among the most
widely used is WSO2 API Manager, which supports a large amount of e-health RESTful APIs managed
by BDigital’s solution.
“WSO2 API Manager is a state-of-the-art tool that helps us manage
the authentication of users in accessing services, such as the
video conferencing, and validates the access of sensors in order
to let them provide updates to our platform. It also facilitates the
use of APIs by our developers,” Mr. Protasio explains. “Without
WSO2 API Manager, this would have been very difficult to manage.
Additionally, with the API Façade pattern we implemented with
WSO2 API Manager, we are set to address any expansion, scalability
and deployment demands.”
BDigital relies on WSO2 ESB for protocol mediation, as well as
helping to ensure reliability and recovery through message
persistence. Working with Apache ActiveMQ, if a network or server
fails, WSO2 ESB will persist the message and present it when the
system is back up and running.
“WSO2 ESB is the most important product for us because it is
responsible for messages between all of the APIs. It can easily adapt
messages and has helped us learn more about the products,” Mr.
Protasio notes. “We are able to improve one service and not affect
the rest, since the WSO2 ESB mediator routes the message to the
"“Since all WSO2 products extend from its
Carbon base, it created a seamless environment that allowed for our programmers to rapidly gain an understanding
of the technology as well as accelerate our integration and product development. As a result, we were able to complete the
first minimally viable version of our product three months ahead of schedule” "
AIL Software Engineer
BDigital E-Health R&D Group
Working with the WSO2 Identity Server for identity management helps BDigital separate data that the
company needs based on user access level and attributes. Combined with WSO2 ESB, WSO2 Identity
Server helps manage authorization policies by allowing BDigital to detect whether users can perform
an certain action or not.
Figure 01: The eKauri e-health and smart home platform manages API consumption through an API Façade based on API
Manager. WSO2 ESB manages mediation and supports WSO2 API Manager and WSO2 Identity Server on user authentication. WSO2 Application Server manages the platform’s Web applications and services.
Mr. Protasio explains, “Our eKauri solution users include patients, caretakers, installers and
consumers, who are all working with sensitive information. It is critical that we define these specific
user roles and enforce authorization policies across operations.”
Finally, BDigital uses WSO2 Application Server to easily manage its large-scale Web-based applications
while ensuring the quality of system performance. These Web applications and services have been
Smart Growth from Smart Homes
BDigital’s charter is to develop technology that commercial partners can then deliver as solutions to
the market. With that in mind, the organization had planned to have partners deliver the first minimal
product version of its eKauri smart home and e-health platform in January 2015. However, the shorter
development time enabled by WSO2 has allowed BDigital to move that first launch three months
earlier to October 2014.
The initial eKauri launch will feature the installation of the solution into 100 smart homes in order
to gain experience, as well as create a fuller schema with failover and load balancing to increase
“We already have a built-in market and clients that want to pay for the product,” Mr. Protasio
says. “The experience we gain from this minimal product version rollout will help us strengthen
our platform to support the many homes of senior citizens, who could benefit from the services it
Looking ahead, Mr. Protasio adds, “Already, other teams in our company are designing more solutions
with the WSO2-based framework. Now that we have been able to implement a very state-of-the-art
platform with WSO2’s software, we know it works, and we’re going to exploit that as we continue to