Case study: Development of IoT system for welfare monitoring of farm animals

Problem overview:
Intensive farming creates a litany of animal welfare concerns. To increase the well-being of farm animals, alternatives to current management practices are essential.
A leading manufacturer of farming lighting and equipment from the UK discovered a need in the market for a product that can be used for environmental monitoring at animal farms.
They had a good knowledge of the market, strong position, many existing customers and distribution channels.
However, their internal R&D team did not have enough capacity and required skills to convert the idea into the final product.
That is why they partnered with us to help them explore the idea, and execute the whole development cycle of the product.

System overview:
The system should monitor environmental conditions like air temperature, humidity, light intensity distribution and wavelength specter.
Also, the important application is the monitoring of animal voice to measure level of stress by using mems microphone in combination with special algorithms and signal processing.
A thermal camera has been used to monitor the movement and growth of animals over time.

The approach:

The system uses the latest Wi-Fi SoC module with Cortex M4 and the highest IoT security features. The main device also includes a battery charging and monitoring circuit, DC-DC switching converters, air pump controller, and bus communication converters.

Our team has come up with the solution for optimized design, in order to save costs on development and manufacturing.

The proposed solution was to develop a single hardware platform, that can be produced in multiple variants so that it can work as 4 different products:
– GAS Sensing
– Light & Temperature
– Acoustic
– Movement

So, instead 4 different devices, a single architecture has been developed to support all features,
saving time on firmware development by using fewer developers, but also saving time on design and manufacturing.

This approach also enabled simplified and faster maintenance in the future, by having a single platform to maintain instead 4 different products.

The board design has been optimized for the following sensors:
– Humidity and temperature,
– Analog NH3
– External digital temperature probe
– External RGB and Light sensor
– Thermal camera module
– Acoustic module

Our team did the following:
– Hardware design
– Firmware development
– Implementation of sensor calibration algorithms
– Software for multi-point sensor calibration
– Implementation of audio processing algorithms in mcu
– implementation of thermal image processing in mcu
– Software for secure firmware flashing and security certificate generation
– Manufacturing support
– Integration with AWS cloud
– Development of AWS cloud software for farm monitoring