MORRISVILLE – Device Solutions is making headlines these days – for a host of things as in Internet of Things.
The company’s latest news is developing an emergency digital paging system for PBS North Carolina and the North Carolina Department of Informational Technology’s First Responder Emerging Technologies program under a Phase II SBIR award, is an engineering and consulting organization developing hardware and software products, including dozens of Internet of Things products.
The organization was co-founded by Bob Witter and Chris Lamb in 2003, jointly with three decades of experience in device design and development experience.
“Our core expertise is in design and development of wireless device designs and worldwide device certifications,” said Witter in an interview with WRAL TechWire regarding the emerging trends in the world of Internet of Things, or IoT.
“There is no public safety communication method that exists today that has fool proof reliability or coverage,” said Witter. Instead, public safety agencies depend on multiple communications methods, like land-mobile radio, cellular, and paging to provide redundancy. The partnership under which Device Solutions will develop the Emergency Digital Paging Over Public Television (eDPPT) technology, seeks to address that.
For the state, public television represents the highest coverage and most reliable transmitters in the state, said Witter. “During large weather events or other disasters, having public TV ATSC3.0 as a redundant data path will significantly improve the situational awareness of emergency responders, and provide a better means of communications between agencies,” he said. “ATSC3 has the capability to provide better communications to the public during emergencies.”
The company has been employed by other firms to assist in the design and development of many Internet of Things devices and products, often involved in specific applications of dispensing, remote monitoring, or tracking.
For example, the company developed a method of vehicle tracking, which is used by lenders to track vehicles or other rental equipment on which liens have been placed, should repossession be deemed necessary due to default, and an automated way to record and monitor the dispensing of fluids, like soap or insecticide, and a remotely accessible smart lock for real estate professionals.
The biggest current trend in the Internet of Things industry, said Witter, “is combining remote data collection with machine learning to make smart decisions without the need to transfer loads of raw data.”
In North Carolina, said Witter, the company is focusing on the state’s agricultural industry, and is assisting agricultural firms and farmers in installing Internet of Things devices to optimize efficiency and resources.
It’s a market that’s been largely ignored by more widespread adoption of Internet of Things devices, said Witter, and one that can provide firms “tremendous savings over the manual processes that are being utilized today.”
To do this, the firm is implementing a technology product that the company developed, Cellio, which Witter describes as a simple agnostic monitoring system with a variety of inputs.
One benefit of the product is that it can be easily connected to off-the-shelf sensors that enable remote monitoring, including for pressure, temperature, humidity, ultrasonic, level, and more. The back end of that system is, according to Witter, “configurable to provide application specific data representation and alerting capabilities.”
One application for which Cellio is used is in cylindrical gas monitoring, from retail gas companies, which uses the system to alert the company when a gas cylinder is low and needs to be refilled. The system is also being used to monitor the level of helium in the tank that sits in the flower department of some Kroger stores, which customers use to inflate balloons, said Witter.
Other emerging trends in Internet of Things aligns with the demographic changes occurring in the United States, as the baby boomer generation retires, then ages. More people are preparing to age in place, remaining in their residences for longer, or indicating that they wish to do so, and with that, caregiving supported and enhanced by connected devices are likely to continue to come on the market.
Witter, who is a volunteer firefighter and first responder, notes that the most important factor that predicts survival in a medical emergency is how quickly basic emergency assistance arrives at the scene. Given that, in-home devices that allow for monitoring and alerting could improve response times. Companies are already developing health-related applications that operate from devices, including wearable devices.
Earlier this week, for example, Apple announced updates to its Health app and the watchOS system, which can now predict based on movement patterns when something may require medical intervention.
“There is a lot of effort going on in this area,” said Witter, noting a relationship with North Carolina State University, and research personnel who “are making remarkable gains in the areas of physiological and behavioral monitoring.”