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Kickstarter campaign to help Winnipeg’s frozen pipes

September 24, 2014 — 

A team of University of Manitoba engineering students is hoping a miniature sensor package can make a big impression on investors.

For many applications in the sensor network world, using an off-the-shelf portable phone would be prohibitive. Instead, the students are targeting a very popular open-source electronics platform called Arduino™ which is designed to provide an easy means of building interactive devices.

The sensor package they have built is called ArduIMU V4, a fully open-source complete wireless sensor module that supports the Arduino™ framework, a popular free operating system. The ArduIMU is a wireless Integrated Measurement Unit (IMU) that can do, well―almost anything its high-end cousins can do.

Biomedical engineering student Ahmad Byagowi is one of the team that developed the sensor system. He explains: “The ArduIMU V4 is a sensor platform which allows users to gather data from the environment, including temperature, humidity, visible light intensity, infrared light intensity, barometric pressure, movement, rotation, acceleration and velocity, and has an accurate on-board compass. This information can either be stored on the device via a microSD card or streamed wirelessly to a computer.”

He adds: “Our team squeezed a huge amount of functionality and sensors into a tiny package.”

The ArduIMU V4 has been developed in such a way that allows for easy use of the hardware and software. With the use of the ArduIMU V4 and its sensors, the project possibilities are endless. Monitoring weather, acquiring bio informatics, controlling remote devices, determining when your plants need to be watered, real-time monitoring of soccer or football players on a field, using it as an integral part for a quadcopter autopilot system or simply just controlling the onboard LEDs.

The students are seeking investors to help bring their invention to market. They have set up a Kickstarter campaign to manufacture the first 500 units and have already secured a manufacturer here in Winnipeg.

“Our project is simple; all the hard work is done,” Byagowi says. “The product selection, optimization and testing phases are complete. Since the cost of parts alone to assemble a device of this caliber would be in the hundreds of dollars, we are now aiming to mass produce our finished product and offer the lowest price possible.”

Because the ArduIMU V4 can communicate wirelessly, it is possible to create a network of them which all talk together. This leads to what is called “The Internet of Things,” whereby everyday devices such as refrigerators, TVs and coffee makers can be controlled remotely.

Ultimately, if ArduIMU gets to market, it could serve as a sensor platform for education, learning and data acquisition. It could be used in high school classrooms to introduce students to embedded systems, sensors and programming. In addition, many courses at the university level could benefit from the product.

Professor Bob McLeod in electrical and computer engineering, says: “This kind of homegrown entrepreneurial story shows the advancement and capability of our students. As far as I am aware it may be one of the first crowdsourced ventures from the University of Manitoba.”

McLeod notes that he already has plans to use the device in the coming months on a study of significant importance to Winnipeggers.

“I am planning to use this platform to monitor ground temperatures at various locations across the city this winter to monitor the potential of water pipe freezing. That application alone should attract local investors.”

As of September 23, 2014, $10,464 has been pledged, so that the project is now 29 per cent funded, with 130 backers. It has 15 more days to go.

To visit their Kickstarter page, click here.

For more information, or to help fund the project, contact Dr. Bob McLeod, Electrical & Computer Engineering, at: 204-474-7360 or email Robert [dot] mcleod [at] umanitoba [dot] ca



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