SqwidNet University Challenge seeks IOT ideas

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Solutions which emerged from last year's challenge include an animal tracking device and a climate change monitoring tool.
Solutions which emerged from last year's challenge include an animal tracking device and a climate change monitoring tool.

SqwidNet, the local licensed operator of French Internet of things (IOT) company, Sigfox, has launched the second edition of the IOT SA University Challenge.

The nationwide technology competition, according to the company, was designed to challenge university students to develop and create innovative projects aimed at solving real-world problems, using IOT technology.

SqwidNet will offer the winning team a cash prize (for participants as well as the tertiary institution), and the chance for the team leader to pitch the solution in front of industry and technology experts at the Sigfox headquarters in France.

"We developed this initiative in partnership with Sigfox as we believe young people have a very different view of the world. They approach challenges differently and because they have grown up with technology at their fingertips, they find alternative ways of applying it to do so," explains Chetan Goshalia, chief sales and marketing officer at SqwidNet.

"We saw incredibly creative solutions emerge during the first round of the challenge. These included solutions for animal tracking, reducing the number of cash-in-transit heists, and the monitoring of climatic conditions such as temperature, humidity, pressure and gasses."

Students are encouraged to form teams with students from other faculties as it supports the "multiple perspectives" principles of design thinking, adds Goshalia.

Once the team is in place and has an idea for a specific solution, it can enter the challenge online from 25 March. Entries close on 24 May.

"The first round of judging will then take place and the finalists selected will receive a development kit from SqwidNet, together with ongoing support while developing their solution. The finalists will then have the opportunity to present their solutions to a panel of judges, after which a winner will be selected."

Last year's winning team consisted of Calvin Hill and fellow Stellenbosch University students, Andre de Villiers and Talia Smale. They developed a smart collar which is placed on an animal to monitor its condition and issue an alert in real-time when it is at risk, while also providing its whereabouts.

Goshalia concludes with tips for students wanting to participate: "Identify a problem that is close to your heart and serves to solve real problems which society is battling with. The UN's 22 Sustainability Development Goals best encapsulates our most pressing problems. Once you know what the problem is, then you can start looking at how technology can be applied to solve that problem, using IOT."

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