Vision by UrbanFarmSolution
In today’s world almost everything is digitized or so we think it is. Technology has facilitated, digitized and improved various processes and is still doing so. Have you ever thought of growing plants and analyzing the process of growing remotely? Well, that is what SOFIA is for. Our customer wanted a platform for automatization and digitalization of the food production process, but with the special feature of remote tracking, so we have made it.
The main improvements that SOFIA offers (IOT platform)
The SOFIA system has been designed to improve food production processes. What does that mean? You do not have to be physically present on the field, in a greenhouse or on a farm all the time, but still be able to know what is going on there. How is that possible? SOFIA monitors predefined parameters and if some value goes below or over default, the system turns on the installed devices to return things to normal. Users are at the same time notified about the current situation so they can also assist if necessary.
What does SOFIA stand for?
All the sensors are connected to the control units that read the measured values and pass them to the server.
The platform allows the user to keep track of all the data that the device is reading, to configure device settings, to place firmware on the device, and to create various commands to control the device.
The basic functionality of this platform is the ability to monitor the entire process in real time, analyze the process and manage the system (devices).
The biggest advantage of this platform is the individuality itself. Depending on the need, each device can be separately configured and customized for the required operation, allowing us to integrate with most systems.
SOFIA has automated the food production process by enabling the management of the environment. Since the growth system is automated, we do not have to be on the farm to water or change the temperature, all we have to do is a few mouse clicks.
How SOFIA works
We will take the vertical farm as an example to describe the way SOFIA works. The farm consists of a set of devices that are connected to the software, and communication between them happens in real time. With the software we can read values from devices, analyze data, send commands to devices (change temperature, humidity …) and ultimately configure a device mode.
Picture 1. Application flow
Highlights of the SOFIA platform
- Individual device configuration
- Multiple platform registration
- Real-time data tracking
Individual device configuration
The devices can be configured in two ways:
Through the software, we can set up configurations on devices, device firmware, and add commands to control the device.
Multiple platform registration
The system can contain multiple platforms (platform -> company) and each platform consists of multiple control units (example: Farm). This is a great advantage because it allows the integration of multiple different systems in one place.
Real-time data tracking
Devices and software are connected to communicate in real time, allowing instant control / change over the system. This is a great advantage because at any time and at any point we can manage the system and analyze the process to achieve the best results. In case the device is not connected to the internet, all statistics are saved locally to the USB module and it is shown on the application that the device is not active.
Application Methods and Design
We highlight two important components of the application:
- WiFi & Bluetooth
- Low power consumption
- Web Socket
ESP32 – is a device (microcontroller) that allows connection of different sensors and electric motors, which can be controlled through a computer. Device is special because, unlike other similar devices, it has the option of connecting to Internet via WiFi and a SIM card. If the connection to the server fails, everything is saved local land, when it reconnects to the server, everything that is stored locally is deployed onto the server. It is well-designed, can operate in conditions between – 40 ° and + 125 ° C, and with very low power consumption contains a lot of antennas, sensors and modules, making it suitable for various integrations. The ESP32 has two power options:
- Power supply through the charger
Web Socket is advanced technology that enables two-way communication at any time between the browser and the server. Unlike HTTP, which, after request, creates a connection to the user and closes it after the user’s response, web sockets work over TCP protocols and provide a two-way, full-duplex communication channel. The user sends an HTTP request, connects to the link, and can “listen” to the data as long as it is connected to the socket. This process is called handshake. The biggest advantage is that communication takes place in real time, allowing us to view current data.
Scheme 1. Application design