Taking the “internet of things” to the masses

Chief Executive Officer of Myriota, Professor Alex Grant (front) with Dr David Haley, Chief Technology Officer of Myriota. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Chief Executive Officer of Myriota, Professor Alex Grant (front) with Dr David Haley, Chief Technology Officer of Myriota.

Imagine you are a farmer on a remote outback station wanting to track where your livestock roam, what the soil moisture reading is in part of that station, or whether you’ve left the gate open at the other end of the property.

Being able to access that information at the touch of a button, rather than travelling around the property to record it, would save time, energy and money, yet would require the use of specialist technology; machine to machine (M2M) communication at an affordable price.

Capitalising on UniSA telecommunications research, Myriota Pty Ltd is a new start-up company bringing this solution to the marketplace, developing the Satellite “Internet of Things” to be relevant and cost-effective for potentially millions of people across various industries.

Developing two-way data connectivity, using sensors and low Earth orbit satellites to collect and relay data from remote locations at an affordable cost, is what Myriota will provide and the company’s formation comes at a time when industry analysts estimate global M2M revenue growth to reach $1.2 trillion by 2022.

Professor Alex Grant, Chief Executive Officer of Myriota and formally Director of UniSA’s Institute for Telecommunications Research, says these services have a range of applications which can benefit ecosystem management, monitoring of climates, defence, national security, maritime, mining, agriculture and more.

“Many industries with remote operations such as agriculture and mining have a need to obtain data from equipment or sensors in remote areas that are not economically served by existing communications networks,” Prof Grant says.

“To get a soil moisture reading or track where livestock is, to look at levels of water at watering points; these are jobs where right at this moment the current mode of operation is for someone to go out on a motorbike to take a manual look. What we are bringing to market is a cost-effective way to get that data remotely and electronically.

“Access to even small amounts of data has the potential to greatly improve efficiency of operations and reduce overall costs. Our understanding and management of the environment is also critically dependent on obtaining data from remote areas.”

The lead investor and commercial partner for Myriota is Canadian company, exactEarth Ltd, who are providing significant funding to commercialise the new technology as well as the use of their fleet of low earth orbit micro satellites, each weighing about 50kg and orbiting the Earth at an altitude of between 700-800km – from which the entire landmass of Australia is visible.

Dr Stephen Rodda, Chief Executive Officer of UniSA’s commercialisation arm, UniSA Ventures, says Myriota will make a significant contribution to telecommunications services globally and also make an economic impact locally, potentially spurring the growth of businesses in a number of industries.

“Markets that may have not been commercially viable in the past now have the potential to emerge and grow quickly, providing many avenues for the research from UniSA to deliver demonstrable impact commercially and to society,” Dr Rodda says.

The UniSA research program that led to formation of Myriota came about through funding from the Federal Government’s Australian Space Research Program, and UniSA is one of four shareholders involved with Myriota.

“We made a conscious decision – we are going to do good science here but at the end of the project we want to have a portfolio of intellectual property and a system that we have demonstrated to a level that could attract investment, to turn it into a company and take it forward commercially,” says Dr Grant.

“Across the university sector there is an increasing push to be more entrepreneurial and this is partly driven by the desire for research to have a greater impact beyond traditional academic output like journal papers.”

UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Tanya Monro says research at the University is inspired by challenges and opportunities, partnered with end-users and communities, and “underpinned by excellence”.

“The partnership with Myriota personifies the impact of our research and has facilitated an effective pathway for the translation of knowledge into societal and commercial outcomes,” Prof Monro says.

“This is an area of research that UniSA has engaged in considerably over a significant period with core expertise developed that now, through Myriota, can connect with and capitalise on market challenges and opportunities.

“This partnership further highlights and consolidates UniSA’s strength to convert research into new technologies with commercial benefit and appeal.”

(L-R) Sean Maybee, CFO exactEarth; Bruce Tilbrook from ITEK Ventures; Stephen Rodda, CEO of ITEK; Alex Grant, CEO of Myriota; Peggy Browning, exactEarth; and David Haley, CTO of Myriota.

(L-R) Sean Maybee, CFO exactEarth; Bruce Tilbrook from ITEK Ventures; Stephen Rodda, CEO of ITEK; Alex Grant, CEO of Myriota;
Peggy Browning, exactEarth; and David Haley, CTO of Myriota.

top^