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Winemakers get a taste of smart vineyards with Intel’s latest IoT pilot

Sensors, cloud and data analytics allow vineyards to be monitored in real-time from smartphones and tablets

It may not trip off the tongue quite as smoothly as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir but TracoVino could soon be the name on everyone’s lips in the wine world.

TracoVino is the title of a new IoT proof-of-concept for winemakers which enables smart and connected vineyards to help improve efficiency and quality through fact-based decision making. The project is the result of a collaboration between Nuremberg-based technology company myOmega, Intel, Ericsson and Telenor Connexion and is starting to make a real impression.

Creating flavoursome and aromatic vintage wine isn’t as straightforward as it looks. The tiniest variations in soil condition, temperature, moisture and sunlight can all have a huge impact on the size and quality of crop yield. Despite technology being used in many areas of wine production, grapevine cultivation has remained largely the same for hundreds if not thousands of years. Winemakers have traditionally sown their seeds, relied on weather station reports, prevailing conditions and above all their experience to make judgements about how to nurture and when to harvest their crop. Over the last decade this process has become trickier due to the effects of global warming, which has varied the length of growing seasons, created higher temperature fluctuations and fuelled the emergence of new crop pests. The need for winemakers to know the microclimate of their vineyard in real-time has never been more important, and thanks to the Internet of Things it’s now possible to make this a reality.

The concept is simple. Solar-powered sensors are planted in a vineyard to collect data on temperature, air humidity, soil condition and light intensity. Extra sensors can be installed at any time to measure leaf wetness, soil pH values and nutrient levels. Data from the sensors is transferred to the cloud using the MYNXG (My NeXt Generation) controller developed by MyOmega and powered by a quad-core Intel® Atom™ E3845 SoC. Once the data analysis has taken place on the edge of the cloud, predictive models and visualised reports are made available to view through the TracoVino app on smartphones or tablets, anywhere and anytime. 

TracoVino not only allows winemakers to get an overall view of the status of their vineyard, they can drill down into particular areas of the field to monitor any issues, get a heads up on possible pest infestation, and even receive predictions about the quality and quantity of the wine. It’s also possible to set measuring points by viewing the maps and satellite photos.

Secure data transfer is one on the key aspects of the concept. MyOmega developed LTE-based cloud services and secure network connections based on the Intel® XMM™ 7160 modem. Security is provided by specially developed Generic Bootstrapping Architecture (GBA) and delegated GBA technology, similar to 3072-bit long RSA keys. Not only is sensor data encrypted, security on the Intel IoT Platform is boosted by the use of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM).

The first of MyOmega’s pilot projects with TracoVino are already underway in Germany and use 10 platforms and 50 sensors to cover the size of an average vineyard. The region’s geography is an ideal testing ground as the landscape presents various challenges, including an altitude difference of up to 300 meters between the lowest and highest borders of the vineyard, along with line-of-sight issues due to the slopes of the meandering River Moselle.

The first wine based on the TracoVino intelligence system will be ready for harvest in 2016. Over the next century real-world IoT deployments such as this are going to be key for the agricultural sector. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has revealed that if the world population grows to 9.1 billion in 2050, a 70 percent increase would be needed in overall food production. Annual cereal production would need to upped by a colossal 940 million tonnes (+46 percent) and meat production by almost 200 million tonnes (+76 percent). Without IoT-based intelligence such as TracoVino, this will simply not be possible.



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