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Andrew at MEA

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Posts posted by Andrew at MEA

  1. Hi Geoff

    Three of us at MEA listened to your inaugural talk this morning on the IoT and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    You handled question time with panache and told us a few things we didn't know (SigFox - whatever that is - heading the list...)

    You also mentioned that folks likely to field a 'top-to-bottom' solution for an IoT application were still in the future, and likely to need a team of about 20 good folks to pull it off.

    Even counting our sales, marketing and administration folk - plus external industrial design and manufacturing support - brings us no-where near that number of staff. Yet we have built and are operating over a thousand on-farm IoT nodes across Australia, moving soil moisture and climate data to the cloud (our 'Green Brain' web app) with data available 'any time, anywhere' on an irrigator's mobile.

    But your point is valid - the IoT is a multi-disciplinary field requiring a very broad approach to engineering, product development and customer support.

    To end on a lighter note, one of our engineers found this IoT quote somewhere on-line: -

    “IoT is like teenage sex:   

    Everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it.

    Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it too.”

    Andrew (at MEA in Adelaide)



    Plexus in Vines Barossa Valley.jpg

    Plexus under Centre Pivot.JPG

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  2. When all is said and done, there has usually been more said than done!

    This is surely true of the IoT.

    I agree with IoT’s promise, but see few of its practitioners.

    Much of the IoT hype talks about connecting the fridge to the stove, although why, I can’t imagine.

    Business cannot thrive without customers, and who are they in IoT land, once the Early Adopters have tired of its promise?

    I can claim some small expertise in this area, having successfully launched an On-Farm Internet-of Sensors system called Plexus three years ago, moving soil moisture and climate data using solar-powered mesh networks across the farm and up to a web-application in the cloud that allows farmers to access their irrigation data from anywhere, at any time.

    To break into this field required a huge investment of funds over three years, a multi-disciplinary approach that hauled together electronic, mechanical, communications and software engineers, plus external industrial design skills, a manufacturing link into China, all sorts of technical skills to set up the production line, and some thirty years of previous environmental measurements in the bush merely to battle-harden the troops.

    Then you have to sell it and keep it working until you’ve crossed the ‘valley of death’ between early adopters and the early majority.

    So the hard reality is that breaking into the whole IoT technological arena is non-trivial; it’s no place for the faint-of-heart or the weak-of-purse or the inexperienced-yet-hopeful.

    But it is fun, and at last, slightly lucrative.


    Dr Andrew Skinner FIEAust CPEng NER

    South Australian Professional Engineer of the Year, 2015

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