A WIRELESS Farm initiative that enables remote monitoring of livestock and water infrastructure has won the inaugural Australian Wool Innovation Tech eChallenge.
The Wireless Farm team of students and staff from Charles Sturt University and TAFE NSW’s Wagga Wagga campus took home the $20,000 first prize for their low-cost, Wireless Sensor Network kit for farmers.
The kit is driven by solar-powered wireless links of up to 10 kilometres that can be used to transmit data from cameras and a range of sensors, including low-cost custom-developed water level sensors.
Wireless Farm team leader Daniel Winson said the low cost of the kit is its unique feature.
“The sensing technology has been proven over many years, we are just implementing it in a way that makes it economically viable for a larger number of farmers.”
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The Wireless Farms team demonstrated their entry to regional and national award judges through a working prototype operating in real time on a Gundagai farm in New South Wales. The teams in now looking to recruit 10 beta testing farmers to invest $1000 to provide them pre-configured easy install kits including camera, solar panel and sensors.
The 2017 Tech eChallenge Wool Innovation program is a collaboration between Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), Charles Sturt University (CSU) and the Entrepreneurship Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC) at The University of Adelaide.
After a national Tech eChallenge ‘grand final’ in Adelaide last week, AWI said practical technology-based products seeking immediate field trials and ground-breaking technology concepts were among the winners of the inaugural program.
Teams comprising students, staff and the wider community undertook an intensive workshop course over the past three months to give them the skills to develop practical, low-cost digital tools to help wool producers improve animal health, welfare and productivity.
Working in teams, participants came up with ideas and developed products they then pitched to a panel of expert judges in the award ‘grand final’ held at University of Adelaide last Friday.
The four runner-up teams, who each won $10,000 were:
Woven Optics from ECIC who presented the concept of a 3D printed phone clip-on device that, in theory, enable woolgrowers to measure wool quality characteristics from the paddock and woolshed, in real time.
BreedElite from ECIC who presented a software/hardware weighing and drafting prototype that adds data functionality and analysis from smart phones and tablets to inform real time decision making.
Team Agraph, representing CSU, who presented an intelligent data analysis system that will give farmers easy access to real time customised information on demand via their smart phone or tablet to help decision making; and
Farwatch representing ECIC who presented a remote-controlled camera sensor device incorporating infrared photo capability to monitor water sources.
Australian Wool Innovation CEO Stuart McCullough said Australian Wool Innovation is delighted to have been part of this innovative approach to attracting the best young minds in the “tech world” towards thinking about wool.
“The University of Adelaide – Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation & Innovation Centre and Charles Sturt University have delivered with many of the participants in the 2017 Tech eChallenge Wool Innovation program having brought their skills and enthusiasm from outside the wool industry,” he said.
“The variety and quality of innovative digital ideas to improve the productivity and profitability for Australian woolgrowers has been great to see.”
Pro Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Adelaide, Prof Noel Lindsay, said partnering with AWI has provided the university with great insight into the real issues that the wool industry faces. It has been a great privilege to inspire young entrepreneurs to look for innovative solutions that can help shape the future of the wool industry, he said.
“The outcomes have been exceptional and we look forward to being a catalyst for generating future innovations in the wool industry.”
Head of CSU’s School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Professor David Falepau said the 2017 Tech eChallenge Wool Innovation has shown us just a glimpse of the solutions out there for everyday issues and opportunities faced by wool producers.
“Opening up wool producers’ challenges to the wider community was key to capturing these great ideas around technologies not immediately thought of as having a wool industry application.”
AWI will be extending the partnership with ECIC and CSU by supporting a wool innovation stream in the 2017 Australian eChallenge. In July, the 12-week program will equip teams comprising people from diverse backgrounds, skill disciplines and locations, with the capability to take ideas to improve woolgrower productivity & profitability through to launch via business model and market validation.
Registration for 2017 Australian eChallenge Wool Innovation is now open. Details available at: https://www.adelaide.edu.au/echallenge/woolinnovations/.
AWI said the 2017 Tech eChallenge – Wool Innovation program collaboration with AWI forms part of the Farm Automation & Software Development strategy of the Sheep Production Portfolio in the 2016/17 – 2018/19 AWI Strategic Plan.