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Ericsson, PS Solutions Corp. (affiliated with SoftBank Group Corp.), and CKD Corporation, a supplier of actuation products, are collaborating on an update to “e-kakashi”, a platform which applies artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies into agricultural processes. First introduced by PS Solutions in 2015, the second-generation “e-kakashi” platform will launch in March 2018.
“True collaboration is the only way to bring real automated IoT uses cases to life,” said Mikael Eriksson, Head of Ericsson Japan. “The combination of PS Solutions’ experience, applications and insight in the industry, along with the advanced features provided by Ericsson IoT, will create positive change for agriculture."
An IoT scarecrow with an AI brain
The Japanese word kakashi translates to scarecrow, but PS Solutions' “e-kakashi” does much more than frighten off pests. With a powerful combination of AI, IoT and cloud technology, “e-kakashi” is designed to maintain an ideal environment for almost any crop to grow in. Japanese manufacturer CKD Corporation, a pioneer in actuation, provides the electro/pneumatic devices that allow the IoT machinery to be controlled remotely.
Easy onboarding of agricultural IoT machinery
The “e-kakashi” platform can easily integrate new IoT devices as agriculturalists need them. Through the Zero Touch Onboarding functionality of the Ericsson IoT Accelerator platform, devices are immediately accessible after installation. No physical control panels are needed, as all functions are handled in the cloud.
Zero Touch Onboarding, which allows devices to be onboarded to the IoT Accelerator platform and then managed through their lifecycles with ease, uses the Open Mobile Alliance Lightweight Machine to Machine (a protocol from the Open Mobile Alliance for machine-to-machine or IoT device management) and smart objects from The Internet Protocol for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance. These are complements to cellular IoT connectivity.
PS Solutions will use Ericsson IoT Accelerator’s building blocks with SoftBank’s cellular connectivity, which is also powered by Ericsson. Incorporating data on variables such as temperature, humidity and precipitation, “e-kakashi” uses AI to automatically optimize growing conditions. For example, to maintain the ideal temperature for growing tomatoes, “e-kakashi” adjusts greenhouse ventilation accordingly.
Using an intuitive app from PS solutions with comprehensive data visualization, the “e-kakashi” user can modify the AI-based standard settings to apply their own professional know-how.
The current solution monitors temperature, humidity, CO2 and other conditions, and guides what actions to take next based on the AI engine. With the support of analytics from Ericsson IoT Accelerator, the next generation of “e-kakashi” will enable higher automation by connecting with actuators.
Ericsson expanding IoT possibilities in Japan
Ericsson IoT Accelerator gives operators a low cost, reliable method to support enterprise IoT with a large number of connected devices.
With the rapid growth of IoT, there are great opportunities for operators to expand revenue with new services. PS Solutions' parent company, network operator SoftBank, has partnered with Ericsson to expand networks and increase IoT revenue streams in Japan. In April 2017, SoftBank began rolling out Ericsson solutions to support the deployment of cellular IoT services across Japan.