New Brunswick Company helps to bring IoT to business & classroom

Demystifying the Internet of Things

When tech experts try to explain the idea of IoT (Internet of Things) or IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) to people, they can sometimes get a puzzled look or an expression of disinterest. Until, people find out this kind of technology will change the way they work and live for generations to come.

“IoT is in every industry, and every generation going forward will use it. If you’re looking for a job, you have a company, you’re providing a service, then this is going to be something you need to deal with and understanding it is extremely important,” says Blue Spurs CEO, Mike LeBlanc.

Whether it’s your vehicle, your coffee maker or your fridge, they can all be connected to the internet. Cloud computing servers can then collect data on these everyday items, and tell you when they might fail or need maintenance.

Blue Spurs is a high-tech company out of Fredericton that is trying to create more awareness about the technology. It recently rolled out the Blue Kit, which is a how-to introduction for companies to better understand how IoT and IIoT could change their business.

“We often say, ‘did you know the Industrial Internet of things is helping companies reduce failures and faults on an assembly line by X percentage in certain industries?’ That peaks their interest and we start going into details about what they can achieve,” says LeBlanc

LeBlanc and his team are working with hundreds of companies, including New Brunswick start-up, SomaDetect.  It uses sensors on milk lines to measure somatic cell counts and fat content. The higher the fat content; the higher the profits for dairy farmers. It can also flag when milk if there is a potential health problem within a herd.

“It was very clear from the beginning that Mike Leblanc and the leaders at Blue Spurs believed in us and what we were doing. They helped us essentially build a prototype of our software so we could start seeing data and help us understand how we could connect systems on a farm to a cloud and where we could go from there,” says Bethany Deshpande, CEO of SomaDetect.

SomaDetect is currently working with 60 farms across Canada and the U.S. and Deshpande says getting farmers on board with IoT was easy.

“They’re excited. They see the benefits of the IoT right away. With our technology, farmers can diagnose the top two diseases in dairy that affect milk quality like mastitis and ketosis.”

They also saw benefits on the bottom line. On average, smaller Canadian dairy operations could pay about $20,000 for the equipment and a monthly fee to analyze the data. Within two and half years, the system would have more than paid for itself.

From the farm to elementary schools, there is a need to better understand IoT technology, so Blue Spurs has been working with CyberNB, Opportunities New Brunswick and provincial educational departments to create an educational version of the Blue Kit, which will be rolled out in schools across New Brunswick in the fall. It recently won an Amazon Web Services, “Partners in Innovation” award for its easy introduction to IoT for students. Blue Spurs is now getting calls from all over the U.S., Spain and the Dominican Republic for the kits.

“No matter what profession [students] look at, it could be a high-tech engineer to managing a shop floor of an assembly line or retail store. IoT will be part of every one of those industries, so that’s why people should look at understanding it now,” says LeBlanc.

Enterprise Saint John wants more people to better understand how this technology works, too.  A large part of its recently announced Smart & Connected Community Data Strategy includes connecting with companies currently using IoT or interested in using it.

“We’re really interested in speaking with companies that are collecting data across all industries and sectors. If they want to be part of this project and are willing to collaborate with our researchers who are collecting and analyzing date, we could potentially solve all sorts of business problems,” says Janet Scott, Enterprise Saint John’s Director for Business and Community Development.

As the regional economic development agency, Enterprise Saint John knows the early adopters of technology often reap the long-term benefits and so does the community, when it comes to job growth.

If you want to learn more about the Blue kit by Blue Spurs for businesses or schools, you can find out more here.

If you are a business working with IoT or IIoT and want to be part of our Smart & Connected Community Data Strategy, you can contact us at info@enterprisesj.com

Originally published in the Saint John Telegraph Journal, July 1, 2017.