Where’s the beef? It’s in the tender minds of hardware hackers (video)

23 Mar 2015

Pictured: Sarah Hanley and Jonny Cosgrove from Tender Scan

The winner of the first ever internet of things (IoT) beef hackathon at DCU was Tender Scan, a project to create a quality sensor for beef.

Tender Scan won Ireland’s first beef hackathon, which aimed to bring the internet of things (IoT) to the Irish beef industry under a partnership with ABP Food Group, Intel and Dublin City University (DCU).

The event took place 20-22 March on DCU’s Innovation Campus.

Graduates of all disciplines, with particular emphasis on agriculture, food technology, innovation and design, engineering and software development, took part in the hackathon.

Participants had the opportunity to win a first-place prize of €10,000, second-place prize of €5,000, or third-place prize of €2,500, all sponsored by ABP Food Group.

The internet of things is already here

Intel’s vice president for Internet of Things Philip Moynagh meets hardware hackers

DCU president Brian MacCraith said that the teams came from a diverse set of disciplines.

“The internet of things is already here, it’s just not widely distributed yet,” said MacCraith.

“We will see a massive increase in the rate of data and this will create opportunities to make smart homes, smart industries and smart transport happen by embedding smart devices like the Intel Galileo board and this creates a unique opportunity for Ireland and universities have a role to play.”

However, while the internet of things and sensors can revolutionise the food industry, there is little awareness in the industry yet about the opportunity, said Dr Nora Khaldi, founder and CSO of Nuritas.

“All of the projects were focused on the taste, texture and shelf life of the beef. But there is very little awareness in the food industry so there’s a lot of work to be done.”

The IoT economy

Intel’s vice president in charge of internet of things Philip Moynagh said he was blown away by the quality of the projects.

“If you can take things and make the smart and connect them to the internet then there is obvious value that can be created.”

Moynagh said the economic world is being turned upside down and small companies that can move fast can actually beat larger established players and he cited how digital photography overtook companies like Kodak.

“That revolution is about to happen in the physical world, not just the digital world.”

Tender is the beef

The Tender Scan team’s quality sensor for beef was the winning project from the weekend.

“We used an Intel Galileo board to get a real-time reading to test for the tenderness of the beef and we looked at tempearture, protein and the water content of the beef,” said Tender Scan team member Sarah Hanley.

“We built everything from scratch over the course of the weekend.”

Her colleague on the Tender Scan team Jonny Cosgrove added: “One of the best uses that came out of it was the fact that as we tagged the beef it was automaticaly uploading the data so automatic beef tagging and quality control was one of the spillovers that came from the weekend.

“As we got through the pitches we kept coming up with new ideas.”

Front row (left to right) Sarah Hanley, Pauline O’Callaghan, Killian Dolan, Niall Browne, Kevin Loaec

Back row (left to right) Jonny Cosgrove, Tony Hepburn, Vincent Lyons, Alex Beregszaszi, Conor Forde, Sam Paya Gathercole

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years