Australian startup Myriota, which has developed technology to communicate via satellite to devices no bigger than a credit card, has made the first field deployment of its technology: to monitor water tanks on rural properties.

In what it says is “a significant milestone for the company,” Myriota has integrated its low-cost satellite transmitters to a pressure sensor enabling water tank levels to be monitored “from any location on earth without requiring expensive gateways or ground based communications infrastructure and bringing the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution to remote areas.”

The water tank monitors have been deployed under a project co-funded by the Australian and New Zealand CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) and the Australian Livestock Spatial Innovation Program (ALSIP).

Myriota announced plans for the trial in March saying a total of about 30 monitors would be deployed and the trial would run for six months with the aim of determining the cost effectiveness of the system.

In an announcement on its web site, Myriota said the first units had been deployed at the University of New England, Armidale and further units would installed throughout Australia in the coming days.

Myriota principle engineer cloud architecture, Andrew Beck, said the installation took about five minutes per tank and was very simple. 

“We have deliberately designed this product to be as simple and robust as possible,” he said. “Anyone who can use a set of pliers and zip ties will be able to install these devices. The communications technology is advanced but it needs to be very easy to use for the farmer.”

Myriota says it has developed a web-based app to enable trial participants to view their water tank levels via computer or smart device that will enable farmers to monitor their tank levels, and set alerts according to their requirements.

Myriota’s business development executive, Tom Rayner, said: “Sensors will collect tank level data and Myriota’s transmitter will send that data direct to low earth orbit satellites. From there the message will be transmitted to the cloud where the data will be interpreted and sent to the grazier. The tank levels will be updated at least twice per day.

University of SA spinoff

Myriota started life at the University of South Australia and was spun off in November 2015 with a $2m investment from Canadian low earth orbit satellite operator ExactEarth whose polar orbiting satellites it is using for the space segment of the service.

CEO Alex Grant was reported in early in 2016 saying the company was aiming for an entry-level service price of $1 to $2 per month depending on the number of messages.

He said Myriota would offer two services: a one way inbound service where the device will send a few hundred bytes of data when it can see a satellite, and a two-way service that will allow for the exchange of data in real time during the window of 10-15 minutes as each satellite passes overhead.

ExactEarth’s satellites have a 90-minute orbital period. They are in polar orbit so a location at the pole can see each satellite every 90 minutes and a location at the equator only once every 12 hours.

Global award win

In May Myriota beat more than 100 IoT start-up companies from around the globe that had pitched to a panel of Silicon Valley and international IoT experts at the Internet of Things World 2017 in Silicon Valley to take out the ‘Best Industrial IoT Start Up Company’ award.