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IoT fights rhino poachers

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is being used to help predict threats and combat the poaching of endangered rhinos.

IBM IoT technology is being used by MTN, Wageningen University (WU) of the Netherlands, and Prodapt, as part of the MTN Connected Wildlife Solution at Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa.

It is intended to expand the solution to other reserves in future.

Today South Africa is home to more than 70 percent of the world’s remaining rhino population. Conservationists are battling to protect the dwindling number of these iconic animals that are being killed for their highly-prized horns. Over the past decade, more than 7 000 rhinos were killed across the African continent and in 2016, 1 054 were reported killed in South Africa alone.

“One of our primary objectives is to protect wildlife, especially endangered species. We were looking for a solution that would help us better understand possible threats and weed out those coming from poachers so we can react ahead of time and prevent harm to animals,” said Bradley Schroder, Chief Executive Officer of Welgevonden Game Reserve. “This project will be a profound breakthrough in the creation of connected wildlife solutions, a wildlife management concept that aims to harness IoT technology to better manage and protect wildlife and other assets.”

Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa is tracking the behavior patterns of animals such as zebra, impala, eland and wildbeest to detect poaching activity . The new IoT powered solution developed by IBM, MTN and Wageningen University collects animal location information, movement, direction and average speed of travel along with other data. (Credit: IBM)

Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa is tracking the behavior patterns of animals such as zebra, impala, eland and wildbeest to detect poaching activity . The new IoT powered solution developed by IBM, MTN and Wageningen University collects animal location information, movement, direction and average speed of travel along with other data. (Credit: IBM)

This new predictive capability stems from research performed by Wageningen University.  Ranked the best university in the Netherlands for 12 straight years, the university features an animal sciences group focused on research and education related to the health and welfare of animals and people. According to research conducted on Welgevonden Game Reserve, prey-animals in the wild react in different ways, depending on the type of threat they encounter and the perceived danger from predators such as lion and leopard or the presence of people in the vicinity.

This research has been combined with MTN’s Connected Wildlife Solution which leverages IBM’s IoT technology and the university’s predictive analytics, to create an innovative solution that gives game reserves a powerful new tool in the fight to save endangered species. Protecting the rhinos begins with fitting collars containing custom sensors onto prey-animals including zebra, wildebeest, eland and impala, which will transmit data about their behavior to the IoT platform.

IBM, MTN and Wageningen University's IoT powered solution fits animals such as zebra, wildebeest, eland and impala with custom made sensors which will transmit data on their behavior to the IoT platform. As a result, plains game such as the zebra, act as sentinels and their response patterns provide an early warning in the battle to save endangered rhinos. (Credit: IBM)

IBM, MTN and Wageningen University’s IoT powered solution fits animals such as zebra, wildebeest, eland and impala with custom made sensors which will transmit data on their behavior to the IoT platform. As a result, plains game such as the zebra, act as sentinels and their response patterns provide an early warning in the battle to save endangered rhinos. (Credit: IBM)

The data collected from the LoRa sensors is communicated via the LoRa WAN Network Server (LRSC – Long Range Signal & Control) and backhauled over the MTN 3G/4G network.

Through the platform, the solution collects animal location information, movement, direction and average speed of travel, along with other data. The data is used by Wageningen University to create approximately 20 rule-based patterns based on the animals’ response to threats. As a result, animals such as zebra will act as sentinels with their response patterns becoming an early warning system to protect the rhinos.

IBM, MTN and Wageningen University use an IoT powered solution that gives Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa, a powerful tool in the fight to save endangered Rhinos. The solution uses the threat response patterns of other animals such as zebra, wildbeest, impala and eland, as an early warning signal, without divulging the precise location of the rhino. (Credit: IBM)

IBM, MTN and Wageningen University use an IoT powered solution that gives Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa, a powerful tool in the fight to save endangered Rhinos. The solution uses the threat response patterns of other animals such as zebra, wildbeest, impala and eland, as an early warning signal, without divulging the precise location of the rhino. (Credit: IBM)

The predictive nature of this solution takes away the reliance on game reserve teams to be in the right place at the right time, or to respond to events, such as the distant sound of gunfire; and the teams can take proactive action that keeps rhinos safe.

“Over the years, we have seen that animal tracking technology has been used reactively in game reserves,” says Mariana Kruger, General Manager at MTN Business. “Welgevonden needed a more proactive solution to take the fight to protect the rhinos further. With the solution designed for Welgevonden, MTN, along with our partners, can better predict and anticipate potential poaching activity. This allows the ranger to take pre-emptive action before any threat happens.”

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Welgevonden Game Reserve was chosen for its specialist wildlife management expertise, its well-known research and development capabilities as well as its excellent reputation in rhino protection. “Welgevonden is one of the best managed game reserves in the world and we need such skills to ensure the success of a project of this nature,” says Prof Herbert Prins of Wageningen University.

“The Internet of Things is changing the way we live and work, and we are finding new applications for IBM’s IoT technologies in businesses across the spectrum,” says Hamilton Ratshefola, Country General Manager for IBM South Africa. “Now we’re helping curb rhino poaching and preserve endangered species on the African continent. IBM’s IoT solutions enable businesses to solve industry specific problems and transform their companies and industries.”

MTN is an emerging innovator in the Internet of Things, with hundreds of clients across 22 countries. MTN is building an ecosystem of vertical partners and an ecosystem of over 3 million active M2M connections. Together these connected devices, sensors and systems provide insight whilst solving real business challenges around the continent.

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IBM’s IoT technology features powerful cognitive computing capabilities that don’t merely gather and predict but truly understand the patterns and relationships in the massive amounts of data being collected by the sensors in field. Today, IBM is an established leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) with more than 6 000 client engagements in 170 countries, a growing ecosystem of over 1 400 partners and more 750 IoT patents which together help to draw actionable insight from billions of connected devices, sensors and systems around the world.

In the future, the aim is for the technology to be made available for deployment at game reserves across Africa and abroad.  Learn more about Welgevonden’s Connected Wildlife journey: https://youtu.be/E9olFUDD_2M.

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CES: And thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for making and enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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