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SA’s IoT Innovator Develops Solution to Manage Social Distancing

The product has attracted interest from companies in other countries in Europe and in the US, and from governments in those territories,.

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A South African innovator in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, IoT.nxt, has developed a solution that will make it possible for companies to manage social distancing and control the number of people at a facility in real-time.

The product, known as Covision, is currently being tested at various supermarkets in Pretoria.

Furthermore, IoT.nxt’s office in The Netherlands is in discussion with a retailer in The Hague for a test site in that city.

Since the introduction of social distancing requirements for varied facilities all around the world, many companies have experienced challenges with the management of this. In South Africa, a leading retailer in Cape Town was ordered to close in April as it failed to comply with lockdown regulations – notably distancing requirements.

“Most retailers have implemented a manual process, with mixed success,” Nico Steyn, IoT.nxt CEO, explains.

“With Covision a retailer will know exactly what the situation is inside a store, in real-time, and manage it efficiently.”

The product has attracted interest from companies in other countries in Europe and in the US, and from governments in those territories, said Steyn.

“We expect to roll it out to many sites in the months ahead,” he said.

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“Furthermore, our team is currently working on a version that will allow us to manage social distancing from next week when employees return to our Centurion office. This will be the test site for the Covision solution for office buildings.”

Covison’s original idea was to see how IoT technology can be used to monitor the movement of people, vehicles and assets.

“While in development COVID-19 spread to all corners of the globe and the team brainstormed how the solution they were working on can be tweaked to be useful for COVID-19 challenges,” Steyn says.

The solution was developed by Michiel du Toit (Chief Innovation Officer at IoT.nxt) and Tobie Alberts (Technical Evangelist, Solutions Design at IoT.nxt).

According to Du Toit and Alberts, IoT solutions are all about getting data in real-time and making sense of the data.

“For the retail application, a retailer does not need a lot of expensive new equipment. The IoT solution can be rolled out with a Raspberry Pi or Dell gateway and using the store’s CCTV network or affordable IP cameras,” argued the developers.

“Covision streams real-time video footage from the cameras, detects people and tracks their movement. The data is then anonymized and transmitted to the cloud where it is kept for reporting and analytics.

“It can also (optionally) be shared with the public to help them select the best times to visit the store. Since everything is computed on the edge gateway it uses very little data and can transmit over almost any 3G network, Wi-Fi hotspot or LAN that is already available.”

The team is already working on other applications for Covision. These include a thermal imaging solution that can assist in identifying people with elevated body temperature/fever; and a solution that can check oxygen levels in blood with a watch type device.

IoT.nxt is South Africa’s fast-growing innovator in IoT technology.

The IoT firm, which was founded by Steyn and partners Bertus Jacobs and Terje Moen in Centurion at the end of 2015, will open its first fully-fledged office in Europe in The Hague, the Netherlands, in July this year. This follows its associate office established in London in January this year and now firmly starts the company’s global expansion. For more read: South Africa’s IoT.nxt sets up shop in The Netherlands

Earlier in 2017, IoT.nxt secured R100 million to pursue global expansion.

The Pretoria-based IoT company has secured a further R100 million from its dedicated investor and funding partner Talent Holdings.

IoT.nxt has developed a world-leading framework that makes efficiencies, cost savings and increased revenue from IoT a reality for businesses.

The major strength of the IoT.nxt framework is that the solution is technology agnostic, which overcomes the challenge of connecting all devices or systems. This enables you to deploy the best breed technologies (hardware/sensors/subsystems) but at the same time also achieve interoperability and interconnectivity between all the currently deployed systems and devices from the edge to the cloud.

Also read: Vodacom to Pay R1bn to Buy IoT Innovator IoT.nxt

Vodacom has disclosed that it could pay as much as R1 billion to acquire Internet of Things (IoT) innovator IoT.nxt.

In May, Vodacom announced plans to buy 51% stake in IoT.nxt for an undisclosed amount to enhance its current IoT offering.

The Vodafone-owned mobile phone firm disclosed that it bought the 51% stake in IoT.nxt for R1 billion, of which R469 million was settled in cash, with the remainder being contingent on the future performance of the business.

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