Apr 12, 2016

Solar and Big Data?

On April 9, I got to Skype chat with a Yale student based in China. He's working in China on a device, the NODE, that monitors its surrounding environment and reports that info back to cell phones. The applications are endless! After our Skype conversation, he expressed interest in writing a post for WheresTheSolar. Here it is:

Gordon with some friends and the NODE in Southern Africa
Hi, my name is Gordon McCambridge, and I am the inventor of NODE. NODE is a low cost, ruggedly designed, universal data monitoring unit. I was on a research trip in Southern Africa and was working with organizations engaged with the “last mile” of vaccine delivery. Our team realized that these organizations lacked the real-time field data that they needed to get the vaccines to destination intact.

We put our engineering hats on and realized that a solution to all these challenges could be achieved by combining a few “maker”  technologies – an Arduino and a cell phone. 
A close up of NODE

We further realized that such a device could be tailored to many different fields through the addition of different sensors and attachments: a rain gauge and soil moisture sensor for the farming collective or a GPS unit and set of temperature probes for the blood bank shipment. Our concept was a device that was both low cost and rapidly scalable--a stark contrast to the previous standard of highly specialized and expensive devices.

With that concept, a year of effort, and a trip around the world, NODE was born. We have piloted our device in Zimbabwe and prepared for manufacturing in Shenzhen, China--a global capital of electronics manufacturing. We have found many clear links to solar energy and solar technology for NODE. For example, a key use case for the NODE can be supplying real time power and general environmental data on a given solar installation over a cell phone network. With this data, we would allow solar-focused organizations to quickly identify system issues and troubleshoot remotely.

NODE with a Solar cells on top
We also want to incorporate solar tech into our general designs. Specifically, we are experimenting with solar charging for NODE. NODE doesn't draw a lot of power and we should be able to directly connect it to a low cost solar panel and use that power to charge and run NODE indefinitely in any situation.

As you can see, Gordon is up to some really cool stuff. If you're interested in working with Gordon or simply want to learn more about his project, he would love to hear from you. Feel free to reach him at info@pivotech.co or +1 (484) 809-1025.

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