The agriculture industry is also introducing innovative projects centered on the IoT aimed at improving crop yields, among other goals. Boston, Mass.-based Freight Farms, for example, makes fully instrumented "farms in a box" built inside 40'x8'x9.5' shipping containers.
"They take shipping containers and they build agricultural units growing leafy greens," says Ryan Lester, director of IoT at LogMeIn's Xively IoT division, provider of the Xively Connected Product Management (CPM) platform used by Freight Farms. "They're operationalizing farming so they can control lighting, watering, pH, so on schedule you can grow herbs and leafy greens and know exactly what the yield will be every week. It's moving farming from 'we hope it rains today' or 'we hope it's sunny' to a fully automated environment that can optimize output."
Freight Farms is also helping users crowdsource recipes based on the data output of the units. For instance, Lester says, the data might show that turning up the humidity setting to a certain point and increasing pH by a certain amount increases the yield of a crop by 10 percent. That data can then help other users increase their yields.
The IoT is transforming business models in healthcare as well. Aerocrine is a Swedish medical device company that makes devices that help doctors diagnose and treat asthma. Aerocrine's NIOX MINO and NIOX VERO are essentially like the breathalyzers police use to measure blood alcohol content, but these devices measure fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), an important biomarker for airway inflammation. Not only can precise measurement of FeNO in a patient's bloodstream help clinicians determine whether asthma is the cause of a patient's symptoms, the measurement can also be used to determine the likelihood of steroid responsiveness.
Aerocrine is now using Microsoft Azure Cloud Services to gather telemetry data from computers connected to NIOX MINO devices and then transmit the data for analysis. It developed an application that transmits complex data like sensor and environmental data from each instrument's sensor, the serial number of devices and sensors, and the number of airflow measurements remaining on each instrument. Azure Event Hubs ingest the data from the devices, while Azure Stream Analytics processes the data, which is presented to Aerocrine's sales and customer service representatives via Microsoft Power BI for Office 365 dashboards.
Aerocrine is also cross-referencing the data with its Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP system to give its sales team a clearer view of the devices.
"We needed to analyze that data to manage the supply chain better," says Anders Murman, CTO at Aerocrine. "For example, each device contains a sensor, which eventually reaches zero measurements as hospitals and clinics consume the tests. The facility then approaches us for a new device. But we wanted to be more proactive about this, so we would be able to know how and when to deploy resources in the field."
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