Thingy:AQ is starting to be deployed..

So what Thingy:AQ is all about and how we got here

Data Telemetry is an important part of real time systems. Being able to provide real-time data for our customer enables our customers to gain insights into business / operations.  Historically, real-time telemetry of data has been expensive for multiple reasons, some of which include:

  • Cost of Radio Telemetry system
  • Cost of Radio Licenses and/or Service Provider subscription and activation fees
  • Deployment cost 
  • Power Budget to power the telemetry system
  • Cost of supporting infrastructure required to power the communications links

With the recent introduction of Low Power WAN (LPWAN) technologies, specifically Long Range Radio (LoRa) and LoRaWAN, it is now possible to implement long range telemetry solutions at very low cost. At the same time, the power requirements of micro-controllers, combined with advanced power management techniques, has decreased power consumption of the Micro-controller down to the micro-watt level. Together this has enabled IoT solutions to be developed that would not have been commercially viable just a couple of years ago. There are other LPWAN technologies, but for the field that we traditionally work with, LoRa is very well suited.

Early in 2017, Brush Electronics was investigating LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Networking) and had identified a number of interesting use cases. During this period I met up with Scott Waller in Seattle USA. Scott produces the “Are You Beeping” avalanche beacon check system used to enable back country skiers to check their avalanche beacons are operating  correctly before going into the avalanche prone back country. Scott was investigating  the use of LoRaWAN to provide the real time telemetry of the number of skiers passing the beacon checkers over a given time window as well as other data. Scott has an interesting background, he is an alpine ski patrol leader and a former firefighter. We discussed how LoRa enabled IoT devices would benefit ski rescue operations and firefighters. We decided to pool resources to develop solutions to address this area.

Then, in April 2017, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced a Wildland Fire Sensor Challenge. In Australia we use the term Bushfire as opposed to Wildland Fire. After reading through the challenge details, we realized the challenge was a perfect catalyst for the development of a real-time data acquisition and telemetry solution for helping firefighters, something that Scott is very passionate about.

We decided to join forces and enter the challenge and, as a result, Brush Electronics has partnered with Thingy LLC, based in Bellevue, Washington, USA for the development of Wildland Fire Air Quality real time monitoring and telemetry systems.  This was an international challenge and we would be going up against experts from around the world – an awesome challenge! On September 12, 2018 the EPA announced that our solution was awarded SECOND PLACE!!! 

The EPA published this video on the challenge:   We designed our solution as a platform to enable it to be used for a diverse range of environmental real-time data acquisition and telemetry applications to run unattended for long periods in remote, harsh locations.

Together we have over 60 years of combined experience building telecommunications systems, embedded platforms, and environmental sensor networks for many public and private industries. Our mission is to become a flexible innovator for IoT devices, low-power and low-cost connectivity, and new applications to solve unique challenges. We want to solve the problem not just develop yet another IoT development platform.Our solutions include low-cost and low-power embedded computing devices utilizing the latest in multi-radio LPWAN, LoRaWAN, Narrowband IoT, and LTE wireless technologies, transmitting small amounts of data to overcome device scaling challenges in remote areas.

Thingy:AQ prototypes ready to be shipped to the EPA for testing