Blog, Events & Press

6 Aug

SevOne Monitors Water Flow in a Greenhouse. Really.

SevOne Metrics Graph

You just parked your car and are now walking up to the door. The sun has set, but it’s still hot outside. Just before you go to turn the knob, the door unlocks. Your lights also dim on and the air conditioning kicks in.

For many, this is reality. And with the rise of Internet-enabled devices, all of this is possible.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to expand rapidly, individuals and organizations spanning a myriad of industries – from fitness and farming to medicine and manufacturing – are quickly adapting the technology.

The value and promise that IoT holds is significant. But what good are IoT devices if we can’t harness and utilize the data from them?

Consider the temperature in your own home for an example. Traditionally, you walked over to a thermostat and adjusted accordingly if your home felt too hot or too cold.

With an IT-enabled thermostat, you can, program the device to keep the home at 68 degrees from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next morning, but 75 degrees from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for example. Additionally, devices like the Nest Thermostat and others can learn from your behaviors and adjust the temperature accordingly.

Let’s take your IT-connected thermostat one step further. By supporting IoT devices with a performance monitoring platform, data collected can inform how you make future decisions. By monitoring your devices, you can baseline data and receive alerts when temperatures rise or fall when it’s not necessary. With historical data available, you can look back at average temperatures to better plan for next season, which, in turn, can help you save money.

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Two of our SevOne employees – Rupert Gregory, a London-based Solutions Architect, and Mike Cronce, a Delaware-based Manager of Product Engineering – utilize SevOne at home to monitor their IoT devices. Here’s how and why:

SevOne: How do you utilize IoT devices at home?

Rupert Gregory: Everything in my home is connected – lights, room and thermostat, all connected to a central hub. One of the reasons for IoT enabling my home was my wife – she's a primary school teacher and works variable hours. She was fed up of coming home to a cold house, so by IoT-enabling the house, she can remotely set the heat so it's nice and warm for when she gets back home.

When day turns to dusk, the outside lights are turned on. When I’m near my house, my smart home turns on the lights, unlocks the doors and turns the heat or cooling up. If I get up in the middle of the night, the lights are set to 10 percent brightness so I am not blinded.

Mike Cronce: I have a greenhouse that’s about 25 feet long with double pane glass. A month ago, I went away for a week and asked my roommate to water the plants. He didn’t do it. Watering was all done manually. If it felt hot or humid, I turned on the fan.

After I got back, I added sensors to track temperature and humidity inside the greenhouse and built a small, automated irrigation system. I’m also monitoring how much water is flowing per second. My sensors are tied into Yahoo weather. And soon, I’m adding soil moisture sensors.

S1: How does monitoring enhance your personal IoT world?

RG: I had all of this data and all of these devices, but no method of monitoring it over time. I wrote an xStats adapter to work with SevOne so I can monitor these devices. I can graph statistics over time. If a room felt particularly cold or hot, I could check – by looking at historical data – if that’s normal or not. It provides data about my energy consumption, so that helps me plan and save energy over time. It’s a window into my world that I never had before.

MC: The scripts I wrote to use with SevOne are going out to the sensors to grab data. It’s how I determine if there’s a leak in the system. I was recently away, so I could look at my data from afar – if the flow was above 35 mL per second, I could get an alert from SevOne and know something was off and shooting water across the room.

S1: How does this translate into the larger IoT space? What’s the bigger picture?

RG: IoT could be applied to create smart cities. You could have sensors around the city that monitor environmentals, people’s movement and traffic. Then you could modify the environment with this data you now have.

IoT in the home is going to take off in a big way. While IoT has previously been an industrial technology, it’s now really priming for the home. Everyone is going to have a smart home.

What I’ve done in my living room – tracked and trended – can be done in entire regions. So that’s where my geeky home multiplied up provides quite the compelling story.

MC: My greenhouse is entirely homebrew – boards and wires. I wrote the software from scratch one night and it’s open source.

But scaling up, I could see farmers using this technology and monitoring for irrigation. They could track and trend how much they’re spending to water crops and compare that to how much rainfall is doing the job. They can quickly reduce or cancel an hour of irrigation if they know rain is coming soon. Different crops also use different amounts of water. Perhaps the same levels of watering are not needed for every crop on a farm. Monitoring will give you the information on how to reduce some of your costs.

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For more on how performance monitoring can support and assure your IoT devices, read our blog, “How to Assure Service Delivery in IoT.”

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