Embedded hardware – Sowing the Seeed of enterprise IoT successProfiles
Mender has a strategic partnership with Seeed to integrate OTA software updating and other remote device management capabilities into its hardware starting with the ODYSSEY -X86, the reTerminal and the Dual Gigabit Ethernet Carrier Board for Raspberry Pi CM4.
Eric Pan is the founder and CEO of “Seeed Studio”, “Chaihuo Maker Space”, as well as the producer of “Maker Faire Shenzhen”. He believes in the potential of open technology and social innovation in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. He is also the leading advocate of the Maker Movement and Maker Culture in China. In the era towards the UN’s 2030 Agenda, he is keen on cooperating with multi-stakeholders and technological partners to provide open source technologies for all sorts of SDGs-related projects, through which ground-breaking solutions can be co-created to make sustainable industries and societies. In 2013, he was selected by Forbes Magazine as “China’s 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30” and appeared on the cover of the Forbes China. Likewise, he was listed on the “2017 China 100 List of Business Creative People ”.
Seeed’s industrial strategy
Eric took time out of his busy schedule to explain his company’s strategy for the enterprise market. Seeed focuses on consolidating the latest technology for emerging enterprise scenarios. He says “Seeed is focused on offering ready-to-deliver solutions, combining hardware, software, algorithm and knowhow. Subsystems can consolidate easily to the existing systems.”
Lead edge technology
Seeed’s latest technology comes from the leading technology providers in the chip and cloud computing industries to develop more than 3000 open-source hardware modules ranging from intelligent sensing to edge computing. The company aims to tackle IoT end-to-end solution challenges by providing complete hardware solutions: IoT sensors and gateways, nodes, and edge computing devices, encapsulated in robust and industrial-grade enclosure designs, the devices are applicable for various scenarios. With the model of “open source hardware and agile manufacturing”, Seeed looks to integrate local and global supply chain resources to offer system integrators ready-to-deploy solutions to upgrade traditional industries. Seeed is committed to being the most reliable hardware innovation platform.
Vertical industries focus
Eric continues to describe the industries and use cases that Seeed is aiming to penetrate and support with its solutions. These industry verticals include Automation, Agriculture, AI/ML, Smart Buildings, Logistics, AI/ML, Network & Security, and New Energy. Next, Eric describes the boards and sensors that will be best suited to the different industrial use cases. He points to the SenseCAP series for sensor networks with embedded AI, and the Beagleboard, Nvidia Jetson, reTerminal and Odyssey for Edge Computing use cases.
Adding critical software capabilities to the solution
Eric also stresses the importance of providing the right software capabilities alongside the hardware to fit specific use cases. He says “We integrate all layers of software partners’ products feature, from BSP to cloud architecture into embedded devices.” Seeed aligns with software partners to deliver end-to-end solutions with the following examples:
- PaaS (Azure, AWS, Google, Mender)
- SaaS (application-specific: Carbon Monitor, MachineChat, Aveva, etc)
- AI Platforms (Edge Impulse, Picovoice, Zenus, etc)
- Other popular open-source libraries
Industry use cases
Seeed solutions are used in various industrial scenarios: Its hardware solutions are used for precision farming in smart agriculture with deployments on 20 farms worldwide. The hardware is used to monitor environmental data from the farms. This project inspired SenseCAP, which is now included into the FarmBeats project and deployed at Microsoft HQ, Redmond Campus. The goal of Farmbeats is to enable data-driven farming. The project uses data, coupled with the farmer’s knowledge and intuition about his or her farm, to help increase farm productivity, and also help reduce costs. Getting data from the farm is extremely difficult since there is often no power in the field or Internet in the farms. As part of the FarmBeats project, several unique solutions are being devised to solve these problems using low-cost sensors, drones, and vision and machine learning algorithms.
Seeed has partnered with WanWu Cloud, a subsidiary of a Chinese leading real estate firm WanKe, to integrate weather data into a smart platform at one of its campuses, so that environmental factors such as air temperature, humidity, barometer, light, wind, rain data can be visualised on web applications. A SensorHub 4G network to cloud is used for better campus management.
Seeed has also partnered with Baoneng on a ‘food tracking’ system. This project sees the integration of Seeed’s environmental monitoring solution into Baoneng’s cold storage warehouse, in order to ensure the optimal food storage conditions.
In China, Seeed is supporting smarter livestock husbandry with an infrastructure based on SenseCAP hardware devices and software capabilities. LoRa and Narrowband IoT Sensors and gateways are critical as they provide fundamental parameters for capture and transmission of data from the livestock and farm conditions to the cloud for analysis.
The company has also successfully completed a number of very impressive industrial customisation projects. Examples include a gateway for a smart solar energy system, a gateway for cold chain logistics; and even a reminder service to prevent haulage truck drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. These gateways leverage technologies such as RS-485, CAN, Relay, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, BT, Encryption chips, LED, Buzzer, RTC; and services from Seeed including hardware and software design, testing planning, CE, FCC, ROHS, and REACH Certification, mechanical tooling, and manufacturing.
Eric concludes by saying that embedded systems are becoming the critical frontier for IoT and Autonomous machines, “it’s not only a bridge to a new market but also converging the digital transformation efforts from all parties.”
We wish Eric and the Seeed team well on their journey to enabling impactful embedded applications in industry.