Agriculture is set to benefit dramatically from technology, and you may well have heard of agri-tech – the intersection of agriculture and technology. The phrases ‘smart farming’ and ‘smart agriculture’ are being used more and more commonly, with Business Insider Intelligence predicting that there will be nearly 12 million agricultural sensors installed globally by 2023. With an ever-growing population, IoT has the potential to help meet the increasing demand.
North Star Systems is a Canadian company that develops hardware and cloud-based software for IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and this includes the agriculture industry for which they have developed a smart monitoring solution for precision farming.
Our team spoke to Denis, CTO at North Star about their solutions for smart farming and how they used Pycom’s multiple connectivity hardware as core CPUs for an Agri-tech industry solution.
What challenges did you face in your industry that led to you choosing Pycom?
Since almost 90% of our market is in agriculture, one of the main challenges we face is extreme weather conditions. Temperatures can range from -40C to +40C and device durability is a key factor. We also have to ask, can it withstand dust, vibrations, differing power sources and hard end-user input? The agricultural sector is dominated by rural settings with poor network coverage, which can mean that it is very hard to integrate new technologies.
How would you describe your process in one sentence prior to using our product?
Why reinvent the wheel? Pycom had the solution, we just took it and moulded it to suit our needs.
Were there any ‘deal breakers’ involved in your decision to become a customer?
We were looking for an all-in hardware solution which offered multiple network connectivity options and numerous I/Os.
How did you first hear about Pycom?
About 2 years ago, before we started to design the next generation of our embedded board, we did some in-depth research into IoT hardware and discovered a business in the UK – Pycom.
What most attracted you to our products?
All of the above; quality, price and adaptability. We had a few minor problems at the beginning, as we found a few bugs with the boards. However, the approach that Pycom took to fix these problems and support our business received was exceptional, we are still here two years down the line and happy.
How do you use our products in your solution?
We are using both the LoPy and WiPy boards as two of the core CPUs that control all aspects of some of our embedded systems and boards. They use the following LPWANs; LTE-M, LoRa and BLE.We attach a variety of different sensors on to the boards depending on the application, however we’re found that the most commonly used ones are pressure and float sensors.
What results have you seen since implementing them?
It’s hard to say at the moment, since we are in the final testing stage with Pycom boards. The final product isn’t operational on the field yet but we’re almost there. Pycom’s help with the product development process and movement from idea to products was phenomenally fast.
What would you tell others who are undecided about Pycom?
I can only reiterate: “Do not try to reinvent the wheel, Pycom already has the solution – just take it.”
More about Northstar Systems inc: https://northstarsystems.ca/