When it comes to the internet of things (IoT), the fanfare is often around items like fridges, cars, and entire skyscrapers. But one entrepreneur is thinking small, producing highly-connected devices the size of a bean.
BeanIoT is the brainchild of tech veteran Andrew Holland, who says that the size and shape of a bean (roughly 45mm by 18mm) makes it ideal as a versatile, low-profile monitoring device. Picture a bean in your pocket while you work out, assessing your progress and vital signs without a clunky wrist device. In an assisted living facility, beans could monitor whether residents had fallen or were in medical distress. Or in a grain silo, strategically scattered beans could assess temperature, moisture and CO2, to gauge potential problem areas before they develop.
By late summer this year, the BeanIoT prototypes will be placed in silos around Cambridgeshire, where Holland’s company RFMOD is headquartered. Holland has chosen agriculture as the tester partly because Cambridgeshire is a large grain-producing area and his brother is a farmer, but he also believes farmers make the ideal test market.
“Farmers are some of the most practical people in the world,” says Holland. “They aren’t going to invest in anything unless they can see a clear return on investment. They’ll be the perfect judges.” Depending on how the testing goes, Holland wants the product to hit the market in the next three to five years.
The idea arrives as big data becomes an area of focus in agriculture. Companies like Monsanto are investing in tech that can monitor soil quality or climatic shifts with remarkable levels of precision. According to Holland, silo technology currently involves monitoring devices hanging from wires. The wireless systems that do exist are costly, running into thousands of dollars, and therefore often beyond the reach of smaller growers. The final goal is to get each BeanIoT costing less than $30 (£20). Read More
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This was originally published on The Gaurdian written by Jesse Hirsch