Beyond IoT integration

Issue 5 2021 Editor's Choice, Integrated Solutions, IT infrastructure, Agriculture (Industry)

The ability to communicate and interact with a variety of electronic devices is the foundation of what we refer to as the Internet of Things (IoT) today. This electronic communication makes it possible to monitor, control and automate many tasks, both digital and physical without physically having to be ‘on the scene’.

The IoT Genie range of devices, developed by Sabertek, are small ‘boxes’ designed to make connecting and managing electronic devices simple and easy. The initial models developed used 2G (GSM/GPRS) connectivity, but the company has released a new range that makes use of 3G/LTE, offering more reliable connections as well as increased functionality. Apart from connectivity, the devices can also have GPS installed for tracking.

Depending on the IoT Genie device chosen, the user will have a number of digital and analogue inputs as well as output relays, which can be expanded with the iOXpander board. The devices also include a battery, one or more SIM cards and more.

Simple development and management

The result is that any device can send information to the server and trigger a response, or at set time intervals the server will signal a device that will trigger an action. The device triggers can be linked to any electronic system, from alarms to generators, gate motors etc. Each device can handle 64 events, which can be automatically or manually triggered.

In the agricultural sector, for example, the IoT Genie system can be used to monitor security systems, pumps, lighting, irrigation and more, turning devices on or off as required and reporting the status back to the server. For example, dam water levels can be monitored and pumps switched on if the level falls below a low threshold point and then switched off when they are at acceptable levels. In the case of a security alarm, the trigger can generate emergency messages to a number of mobile devices as well as an alert to an armed response company.

In the business sector, building management is easier as lights, air conditioners, generators and geysers can be turned on or off at specific times, or when someone enters the building. Linking the systems to access control and other security functions is a simple process, adding another layer of oversight and providing additional data for management reports.

Even home users with different electronic devices in their houses can make use of the IoT Genie infrastructure to automate and control their homes, from alarms systems to irrigation and gate control and, as above, through to controlling lights, heating, geysers etc.

The IoT Genie range is managed from the cloud, providing users with access to their management platform at any time, including from a mobile app. Sabertek is focused on the design and manufacturing aspect and therefore has a channel-based go-to-market strategy. Integrators can therefore offer clients purpose-built apps or web interfaces for their requirements, all run on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

Integration into the IoT Genie system is done through REST APIs, thereby making it simpler for developers to connect almost any device to the system. (“An API, or application programming interface, is a set of rules that define how applications or devices can connect to and communicate with each other. A REST API is an API that conforms to the design principles of the REST, or representational state transfer architectural style”[1].)

To ensure the SIM cards function effectively, IoT Genie supplies the cards and manages them. These are roaming SIMs that can be used anywhere in the worlds and are also secure, meaning they can’t be stolen and used in someone’s cellphone. Messages via SMS can travel from the devices to the server and back, taking five to 10 seconds to activate a response.

Using geolocation

Using the GPS functionality makes the IoT Genie a useful tracking device. Vehicles can be tracked while on the road as well as when parked overnight. If a truck that should be parked in a yard suddenly starts moving out of the designated area, the system will raise an alarm. Similarly moveable agricultural equipment can also be tracked to raise an alarm if it drives out of the barn at night or decides to help out on the neighbouring farm without permission.

The IoT Genie devices are rugged and designed for long-term usage, while also being open to being connected to almost any electronic devices that users may want to control. While the systems make use of Azure for centralised management, they are designed to allow integrators to create their own apps or web interfaces that will easily integrate into the backend and offer a reliable and secure customer interface.

For more information contact Sabertek, +27 12 653 0008, info@sabertek.co.za, www.iot-genie.com

[1] https://www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/rest-apis


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