SPILaMM uses wearables to keep sheep farmers one step ahead

sheep wearables iot agriculture farming

Researchers at the University of Nottingham are working with agriculture industry leaders to address the challenge of lameness in sheep – and an IoT solution could provide the answer. 

Lameness in sheep is one of the biggest challenges facing the agriculture industry in the UK. The vast majority of lameness is caused by footrot, a painful disease that can lead affected livestock to lose weight rapidly.

More generally, lameness causes poor productive and reproductive performance, which in turn decreases the value of affected sheep for the farmer, processor, retailer and consumer.

It’s estimated that lameness costs UK farmers between £70M and £210M annually. The Sheep Performance Improvement through Lameness Monitoring and Management (SPILaMM project) has been funded by Innovate UK in an effort to bring together academics and industry professionals from the world of agriculture. These include the University of Nottingham, meat processor Dunbia and livestock management software company FarmWizard. 

Read more: Discovery Ag and NNNCo create rural IoT network for Australia’s farmers

Tagging and monitoring

The consortium is currently trialling IoT technology on 25 sheep farms in the UK. So far, they have developed a prototype tagging and monitoring system, combining edge processing technology from Intel and the FarmWizard platform.

The wearable device is worn on a sheep’s ear tag. From there it measures each animal’s movement and gait using an accelerometer and gyroscope. This information works in tandem with algorithms designed to alert farmers if something seems amiss.

According to research lead Dr Jasmeet Kaler, “So far they have provided high accuracy in predicting various behaviours of the sheep, including differentiating lameness.”

Because much of the processing takes place on the device rather than in the cloud, edge processing provides an advantage for battery life.

Read more: IoT on the farm: automated cow milking and more

First of its kind

Speaking to Internet of Business, Dr Jasmeet Kaler said, “To my knowledge, this technology is the first time in precision livestock where algorithms have been implemented on the device. In our work, we also explored various sampling rates to find an optimum for the behaviour classification in sheep but also what will be energy efficient.”

“The use of IoT is a growing area in agriculture, especially with livestock. We need to think of innovative solutions that combine our understanding of disease biology/animal behaviour with state of art technologies – while understanding the constraints of farm management systems.”

FarmWizard founder Terry Canning sees the advent of wearables in livestock farming as the next logical step. Speaking to Internet of Business, he said, “Livestock farmers need data to help them make the right decisions to maximise efficiencies, especially with Brexit around the corner.”

“For the past 14 years, FarmWizard have been focused on improving farmer to computer interfaces, utilising devices from text messaging to smartphones to make it easy for the non-deskbound farming community to record information on their livestock. This project really excited us as livestock wearable technology allows us to collect data on animals – in this case sheep – without any intervention from the farmer.”

The first research paper outlining the results and methodology of the SPILaMM project will be published in the upcoming issue of the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Read more: Farming IoT connections to hit 27m by 2021

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Five ways healthcare firms can get ahead in the race to the Medical Internet of Things

The concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) has become so popular that its impact is being felt across a huge number of industries, and healthcare is no exception. Five years ago, the medical device connectivity market was largely insignificant, but is now expected to grow at a CAGR of 38% over the next five years by adopting the capabilities of the IoT. With this in mind, here are five recommendations for healthcare organizations to ensure they fully embrace the power of the IoT: 

Embrace the cloud

Today, the cloud has become the default platform for digital innovation, and the IoT is no different. IT departments have often been accused of holding innovation back in the past, yet nowadays it’s hard to find a single fast-growing health app which utilises in-house IT departments and ignores independent cloud platforms. The latter is favoured not just for its scalability and cost advantages, but also for promoting rapid adoption amongst like-minded pioneers and entrepreneurial communities. This has allowed them to pitch in with new value-added services, which has led to the value of the network within the IoT ecosystem increasing exponentially.

Open solutions up to all relevant stakeholders

It is vital that IoT medical equipment, applications or solutions are designed in a way that democratizes the big data they generate – thus allowing all the relevant stakeholders to join the party. This should be done by creating open architectures which allow stakeholders to freely interact with the product in question, permitting them to record the number of people who interact with it and making the information surrounding the use of that equipment completely open. This allows entrepreneurs and other leaders to open up innovation to numerous stakeholders within healthcare organizations including patients, doctors, service engineers, dealers and so on. 

Don’t rule out remote monitoring

From tracking hospital assets and patients with real-time location systems and radio-frequency identification to remotely monitoring hospital equipment, the global healthcare sector is in for a dramatic change. Soon patients won’t need to visit the doctors for a blood-pressure reading: machines will be able to automatically take their readings and inform both them and their doctor if any anomalies arise. Compare that to your bank notifying you when your account is overdrawn, and it doesn’t seem such a crazy suggestion.

Collaborate with unlikely partners

We are living in an age of knowledge spillovers, where innovation within one firm/sector often has the unintended effect of stimulating growth within a neighbouring sector or rival firm. These spillovers make spectacular innovations possible, as firms begin to identify seemingly unrelated players collaborating with them to create value. For example, Ford is working with the healthcare industry on a solution that would notify a nearby hospital if a person suffers a heart attack in their car, and can send an ambulance before the person is even aware they are having one.

Extract secondary and tertiary value from data

Many people exercise unevenly, distributing more weight on one leg than the other, which can lead to injuries. Wouldn’t it be beneficial if your shoes could warn you about your unhealthy exercise habits so that you can do something about it and avoid an injury? Second, surely a running shoe manufacturer would benefit from knowing how their products are being used, how often, and where most wear and tear occurs, so that they develop better shoes? What’s more, the data that these devices generate will only help to improve their quality, as this intelligence is added back into the devices and other healthcare applications. This could help create a cycle of improvement, which is undoubtedly a positive development and could see the MIoT market really explode into life.

By following these recommendations, firms can give themselves a definitive head-start in the race to the Medical Internet of Things.  It’s clear that medical devices will soon become commonplace within the healthcare sector, and that they will form part of an enriched and broad MIoT. Furthermore, with this exponential increase in both connected medical devices and the continual improvements being made in processing data showing no sign of abating, imagination is the only remaining hurdle to overcome if developers are to bring the next big app to market, and bring to the world the healthcare of tomorrow.

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McLaren Automotive: Racing Ahead With Real-Time Connected Intelligence

McLaren Automotive’s entry-level 570S Coupé packs 562 horsepower that rockets the car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. But that’s nothing compared with the speed of the company’s real-time connected intelligence.

Based in Woking, England, McLaren designs and manufactures sports and luxury cars. Most are produced in-house at designated production facilities. And increasingly, the company relies on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

I caught up with Craig Charlton, CIO of McLaren Technology Group, in May at SAPPHIRE NOW, where we discussed McLaren’s IoT journey.

One strategy, four units, five transformers

McLaren is pursuing a single IT strategy: “to deliver core solutions, core platforms, and winning platforms.” But it needs to execute that strategy across four business units, each of which requires a different approach to IT:

  1. McLaren Automotive — Manufactures high-performance sports and luxury cars
  2. McLaren Racing — Races to win in Grands Prix and World Championships
  3. McLaren Applied Technologies — Applies advanced technologies and designs across markets as diverse as health and energy to achieve performance breakthroughs
  4. McLaren Commercial — Identifies and enriches partnerships to drive business success

The company is achieving its IT goals through its “Transformational Big Five:”

  1. Business platforms — Advanced business platforms support processes in each of McLaren’s four units.
  2. Cloud and mobility — With 2,800 of the company’s 3,400 employees on mobile devices, cloud is everywhere.
  3. Managed risk — By migrating from legacy systems, McLaren is reducing cybersecurity vulnerabilities and managing risk.
  4. People-centricity — IT is central to how McLaren’s people do business every day.
  5. Partners — McLaren has been co-innovating with SAP for more than 20 years.

Internet of (very fast) Things

But some of the most exciting IT at McLaren revolves around IoT. And as Craig explains, IoT is hardly new at McLaren. “We’ve been using IoT-type technology since 1993,” he says, “when we first put telemetry on our racing cars to analyze race performance.”

Today, at a typical race, the company has 150 to 300 car sensors tracking everything from tire pressure to brake wear to G-force. These sensors generate more than 100 GB of data every race weekend — producing 11.8 billion data points per season and 1080 race permutations in real time, so the race team can ask questions like, “How many times did Fernando Alonso pull 6G in the last race?” — and get the answer in two or three seconds.

“The data has truly transformed how we race,” Craig says. “Solutions like SAP HANA have allowed us to track billions of data points and look at historical data going back 24 years. In fact, we can analyze about 1 trillion data points.”

Fine-tuning race cars, transforming business models

What makes IoT mission-critical to McLaren is the ability to gain new insights to improve performance. By analyzing its Big Data, the company can identify nuggets that help it fine-tune its cars and be faster around the track.

But the company also expects to leverage real-time connected intelligence to improve the performance of its business. “IoT is going to change many organizations from being product-based to being service-based,” Craig predicts. “In the automotive industry, when we talk about autonomous cars, customers may be looking to buy a unit of travel rather than a car.”

For companies in the automotive and many other industries, business change is hardly slowing down. Real-time connected intelligence will help them stay ahead of the curve.

To learn more about McLaren’s IoT journey, watch Craig’s SAPPHIRE NOW presentation or listen to a one-on-one interview with Craig.

To see Craig and 50 other industry experts in person, attend SAP Leonardo Live, July 11 and 12 at the Kap Europa Congress Center in Frankfurt, Germany. The event will bring together a vibrant global community of up to 1,500 IoT, manufacturing, supply chain, R&D, and operations decision makers, influencers, analysts, and media. Learn firsthand from more than 50 SAP customer showcases how to connect IoT and core business processes to achieve digital transformation.

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Dewalt powers ahead with IoT plans for construction workers

Toolmaker Dewalt is looking to tap into the IoT in order to help workers on construction sites become more productive.

Who used that power drill last – and where did they put it? These are the sorts of questions that contractors working on building sites often need answering, but Dewalt reckons that, while sharing data has never been so important in this industry, connectivity options are as yet pretty limited.

With that in mind, the company has announced it will be making an “unprecedented effort” to make building more connected and more efficient. Over the coming months, it will launch a fully connected system, including a WiFi mesh network and, later, an IoT platform, to tackle current shortcomings in on-site connectivity and asset management.

Read more: MIT Media Lab unveils autonomous construction platform

Rugged by design

The planned WiFi mesh network will feature ruggedized access points built to withstand the harsh environment of a construction jobsite. This will allow contractors to collaborate in real time and access critical site information such as schedules, budgets and requests for information (RFIs).

The network, in turn, will lay the foundation for a Dewalt IoT platform, which will enable contractors to identify the location of tools on-site and get data into how they’re being used. A key element in this IoT platform will be an inventory management system called Tool Connect.

In order to make this a reality, Dewalt is partnering with Procore, a provider of cloud-based applications for construction. It seems that its IoT offering will be built on top of Procore’s Construction OS platform.

“Dewalt understands how vital the building and construction industries are to local and global economies,” said Tony Nicolaidis, vice president of marketing for connected systems at the company. “Leveraging technology, our goal is to provide solutions for gathering in-depth jobsite data for better decision-making by general contractors and trade contractors, thus enhancing productivity and safety.”

Dewalt said it will provide more details on its plans in the future and accepting pre-orders.

Read more: Clicks for bricks, Procore cements construction management software

Ripe for disruption

Last year, researchers at strategy house McKinsey & Company singled out construction as an industry “ripe for disruption”. Large projects typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and come in over 80 percent over budget, they claim in the report, Imagining Construction’s Digital Future. Worse still, construction productivity has actually declined in some markets since the 1990s, and financial returns for contractors are often relatively low and prone to volatility. In other words, even small setbacks on sites can put a large dent in profits.  

“The Internet of Things is a reality in many other sectors; sensors and wireless technologies enable equipment and assets to become ‘intelligent’ by connecting them with one another. On a construction site, the Internet of Things would allow construction machinery, equipment, materials, structures and even formwork to ‘talk’ to a central data platform to capture critical performance parameters. Sensors, near field communication (NFC) devices and other technologies can help monitor productivity and reliability of both staff and assets,” says McKinsey’s report.

Read more: Start-up of the month: Converge – automating industrial monitoring

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AT&T completes its nationwide LTE-M network ahead of schedule

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Your IoT devices may soon have a new network to connect to in order to transmit data directly to the cloud. AT&T has completed its nationwide rollout of its LTE-M Internet of Things (IoT) network.

This rollout, which involved a software update to AT&T’s existing LTE network, enables IoT devices to connect from more places, and with better reliability than before.

See also: How to feed and care for your wireless sensor networks

The LTE-M IoT network incorporates globally standardized 3GPP technology that makes use of licensed spectrum that affords carrier-grade security and reliability.

The network is designed for large-scale rollouts, and plans are set to bring the network to nearby regions including Mexico and Canada.


There are some significant differences between the LTE network your smartphone uses and the one your IoT device(s) connect to.

For one, the price AT&T is charging per connection is significantly smaller. Current pricing plans show a $ 1.50 annual charge per month per device. Additional discounts and bulk pricing plans will be available.

LTE-M also does a better job at holding a strong signal through barriers such as walls and floors. It boasts a greater range and longer battery life for connected devices. This improved connectivity comes at the cost of bandwidth.

LTE-M supports bandwidth of up to 384 kbps or 1 Mbps, depending on whether it is used in full-duplex or half-duplex mode. That’s quite a bit less than your smartphone, but IoT devices themselves don’t consume a lot of bandwidth at all. Generally, they are transmitting data to the cloud and receiving simple commands. Both of which are accomplished with very little bandwidth overhead.

What are the advantages?

In the world of IoT, size matters. The smaller the modules, the more versatile their uses can be. LTE-M enables manufacturers to work with modules that are 1/6 the size of the ones currently being used to connect to wireless networks.

Battery life is better on LTE-M. LTE-M devices can enjoy a battery life of up to ten years.

Connectivity is maintained through dense buildings and even underground. Maintaining a constant connection is imperative for many IoT applications. LTE-M especially useful for devices that travel in areas where maintaining a connection is an issue.

“Our nationwide LTE-M deployment is another example of AT&T’s continued investment and leadership in IoT,” said Chris Penrose, President, IoT Solutions, AT&T. “We can now reach new places and connect new things at a price that’s more affordable than ever before. Our LTE-M starter kit will also spur developers to open the doors to IoT innovation.”

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