Honey bee populations have been dying around the world at an alarming rate. That just means less honey for your morning toast, right? Nope.
Honey bees help to pollinate approximately one third of the food we eat, including fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts, among others. This is a big deal.
CSIRO thinks so too, so they’ve partnered with Intel and other technology companies, as well as researchers, beekeepers, farmers and industry around the world to form the Global Initiative for Honey bee Health (GIHH).
Its goal is to better understand what is causing the population decline and to find solutions to ensure continued crop pollination.
To do this, researchers are gluing tiny RFID tags to the backs of bees in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico and the UK. The tags are scanned by tag readers in the hive and surrounding areas, and the data is then stored on site/ transmitted back to the researchers for analysis.
Integral to this research is the use of Intel’s Edison compute platform, which, in concert with the RFID tags, allows the bees' activities, along with various environmental factors, to be tracked and monitored.
“Edison is very small so we can put the computer in the hive," CSIRO science leader Professor Paulo de Souza told IoT Hub.
"It has wi-fi and bluetooth communication methods, which makes life much easier, and you don’t need to disturb the bees much each time you need to get data.
"[Edison] also consumes very little power, and it’s very flexible in terms of programming. For example, I can shut down one of the CPU cores to save even more power, if required."
De Souza said the nature of the technology made it easy to implement anywhere honey bees are found, "from high in the mountains, to deep in the forests of the Amazon.”
Intel’s enterprise solutions sales director David Mellers noted the research was highly beneficial for both CSIRO and Intel.
“We like to help customers like the CSIRO get access to our technology and expertise," he said.
"It helps close the gap from Intel's chips being a component technology to being part of an integrated solution that would help provide a useful outcome.”
Mellers said one of the broad benefits that Intel brought to the IoT space is technology that provides "a high level of compute capacity in small packages at an effective cost."
This, he said, gave customers "a high level of flexibility" in how the technology could be deployed.
“Moore’s Law and our efforts to make things smaller and more cost-effective - specifically for IoT applications - is the overarching area that’s driving the evolution of this technology," Mellers said.
"Once technologies like Edison start to get into the wild on a broader basis, people will start thinking of new ways to use the same piece of infrastructure, and we can start to add things and develop them further.”