The Mobile IoT Innovators spotlight series highlights ambitious companies working on innovative products and solutions using LTE-M or NB-IoT connectivity. To find out more about the Mobile IoT Innovators community, please click here.
Pong Yuen Holdings
How NB-IoT Enables Precision Agriculture
In Hong Kong, Pong Yuen Holdings is using NB-IoT to cost-effectively collect data from sensors, monitoring the soil and environmental conditions in farms and greenhouses. In this interview, Raymond Lam, Director, Pong Yuen explains how this low power wide area connectivity can underpin a comprehensive solution for precision agriculture.
Please describe how your company came into being.
Founded in 1991, Pong Yuen Holdings Limited build customised Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for various applications, including home automation, smart lighting, smart farming and smart apparels. At our offices in a technology park in Hong Kong, we develop both the hardware and software components of cloud-based solutions that enable customers to remotely monitor and control their assets using a smartphone or a tablet.
In 2015, we began to cooperate with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on the development of precision agriculture, conducing research and development, supported by the Innovative Technology Fund of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. We have constructed a greenhouse in Ta Kwu Ling, Hong Kong, to carry out scientific research and develop related devices for the IoT.
Our product range now includes an agricultural monitoring system, a plant monitoring system, a wireless soil sensor, a weather monitor (collecting real time data on temperature, humidity, pressure and ambient light), a CO2 detector, a nutrient dosing controller, an intelligent irrigation system, a plant-specific and adjustable “Eco-LED” lighting system, and a plant database designed to enhance plant growth.
As well as developing the necessary IoT technology, software algorithms and cloud computing analysis, we are cooperating with the Chinese University of Hong Kong to provide farmers with guidance on how to improve plant growth and nutritional analysis of crops. The goal is to build a fully comprehensive solution for precision agriculture.
Please describe how you developed your product.
Initially, our products used Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi connectivity to upload the data they were capturing to the cloud. But in the past year, as Mobile IoT technology has matured with the support of a vast network of mobile operators, we have adapted the design of our products to include NB-IoT technology.
How do your products use NB-IoT?
Most of our NB-IoT-connected devices are sensors and controllers, collecting data on temperature, humidity and soil moisture. They use NB-IoT to upload this environmental data to the cloud, where it can be processed, analysed and employed to guide farmers’ decisions. Our system can also use NB-IoT connectivity to enable remote control of irrigation, nutrient dosing and lighting to optimise crop growth.
What are the benefits of using NB-IoT, rather than another wireless technology?
NB-IoT is designed to save power and operate for a long time on a battery. As well as being power efficient, NB-IoT supports wide and easy deployment. There is no need for a gateway to provide connectivity, boosting flexibility and making it easy to set-up in farm fields and greenhouses.
How are you currently working with the mobile operators?
In agriculture, there are different requirements in each country and region. Working with mobile operators, can help us deliver customer-oriented services that fulfil local requirements.
What is your business model?
Our business model is really flexible to enable us to collaborate with our partners. We have a complete solution, including NB-IoT devices, cloud storage and computing services, application terminals, a crops growth database and consultancy service. It can be applicable for livestock, aquaculture, soil farming and hydroponic system. We are open to trial projects to explore the market opportunities with mobile operators.
What are your business goals for 2019 and 2020?
We would like to work with mobile operators on a trial project that helps customers understand the benefits of deploying NB-IoT technologies in agriculture.
Do you plan to roll out further products and solutions that employ LTE-M or NB-IoT?
We are developing further products and solutions, such as a crops growth monitoring system and an optimal power distribution system, which will employ NB-IoT and/or LTE-M connectivity to enable smart agriculture and smart cities.
For more information please visit www.pongyuen.com.hk/innotech-agri