The Internet of things (IoT) is the extension of internet connectivity into everyday objects and devices. An application of Internet of Things (IoT) is Internet of Farming (IoF) which is used in farming applications. Organic channels can significantly advance agricultural innovations when it comes to the IoF. Organic channels consist any hydrocarbon based media. When these channels are used to communicate data, they are called Organic Communication Channels (OCCs). OCCs show great potential based on the accomplishments seen in Human Body Communications (HBC) in Body Area Networks (BANs). Consequently, OCCs can be considered an alternative to short range RF communication as it provides higher data rates, greater spectral efficiency and greater power efficiency.

This project aims to create an OCC transceiver prototype, the Organic Gizmo (OG), that uses organic channels (soil, animals and vegetation) to communicate data.

The transceiver utilises a micro-controller to pass the data through different layers of communication (for error control) and Printed Circuit Board (PCB) electrodes (which utilize capacitive coupling and magnetic induction techniques to pass the data through the organic channel). The pilot symbols in the frames, that contain the data sent, may be used to determine the channel response and hence the channel state (e.g. soil moisture, pH, presence of disturbances such as earthquakes or trespassers, etc.).

In the future, alternative channels to the RF spectrum will be critical to communicate data e.g. in underground networks. The OG is designed in mind to address this issue. To the extent of the researcher’s knowledge, no research towards creating full organic transceivers has been made to address communication in multiple organic channels. Granted, sections of human and soil- based transceivers have been created separately.

Ideally, an OCC transceiver will be in the form of an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) which passes the data through the different communication layers for error free transmission as well as the PCB electrode. However, given the resource constraints, the OCC transceiver prototype, the OG, will consist of a micro-controller development board (implementing novel communication layers for the Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical (PHY) layers) and designed PCB electrodes.

OCC transceivers can be applied to many IoF use cases. For soil-based applications, it can be used to communicate surveillance information in farms susceptible to praedial larceny, communicate/detect soil-state information and communicate emergency information in rescue operations in disaster scenarios. For vegetation-based applications, it can be used to communicate/detect vegetation-state information.

This solution addresses the inefficiencies in current farming strategies and mitigates against future issues arising from limited communication resources in the future.

Inspiration

We entered for several reasons: 1. To solve existing problems in the world. This idea came about as we thought about the need for better food security. We always look for opportunities to harness our engineering skills for the greater good 2. To purchase research equipment which can aid us in furthering our studies in developing both regional and global solutions. In particular, a Vector Network Analyszer (VNA) can help us achieve significant portions of the objectives in our theses as well as our fellow postgraduate students. Furthermore, this VNA would take our product to the next level which we plan on implementing to advance food production 3. To experience new cultures and lifestyles. The opportunity to experience this does not come often and we, as research graduates who are from a diverse background, attempt to seize these opportunities when they present themselves.

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