IoT sensors: Using Internet of Things keep oysters fresh

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IoT sensors: Using Internet of Things keep oysters fresh

By employing a heat-sensing camera and attaching temperature sensors to shipments of live oysters, Massachusetts aquaculturalist Daniel Ward hopes to change how shellfish growers track their products. “Oyster farming is still living in the Dark Ages”, he says, and his pilot project at Ward Aquafarms, a 10-acre aquaculture operation on Cape Code, is aimed at improving the traceability of his oyster harvest.

Using sensors made by German manufacturer Mobotix AG, Ward has set up a camera that generates dual side-by-side conventional and thermal video images of an oyster cage sitting on a dock. Because they are shipped and often consumed while they are still alive, oysters pose a human health danger if they are not properly chilled from the time of harvest and at each step in their transit, up until the point of consumption. Warm temperatures during the shipment process may cause the amount of bacteria inside oysters to increase to dangerous levels.

Previously, oyster farmers tracked temperatures en route with pen and paper, but this relies on everyone involved in the supply chain keeping exact records. To make temperature tracking more reliable, easier and precise at the point of harvest, Ward has installed a cloud-connected thermal radiometry sensor at the oyster farm. The camera continues to track the temperature while the oysters are pulled from the cages and prepared for shipment inside mesh bags, thereby generating a more complete temperature profile than just the water temperature at the time of harvest. The camera transmits this data to the Verizon ThingSpace IoT platform via a cellular modem, and the data is stored in the cloud and can be referenced later.

 Ward Farms - IoT sensors Oysters

Should consumers report illness due to consuming oysters, representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration‘s National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP), or a local or state-level affiliate, contact the grower and all supply chain partners to inquire about the shipment’s temperature history, in order to compile a complete view of that history.

Ward plans to build on the use of the thermal radiometry sensor integrated in the camera by adding temperature-tracking tags to each bag into which the oysters are placed after being harvested and cleaned. Verizon representatives will bring the tags—which will transmit temperature data to the ThingSpace platform via its cellular network—to Ward’s aquafarm.

Will consumers pay a premium for oysters if they know they’re less likely to make them sick? I think so,

he says.

Author: Tim Cole
Image Credit: Ward Aquafarms

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