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Nectar, an IoT product creating a lot of buzz

By Manuel Léveillé, April 19th, 2018

Creating beautiful, functional objects is not the only reason we become industrial designers. We also want to improve the quality of life for those who use the products we design. That being said, it’s still rare indeed to get an opportunity to work on a project with stakes as high as the one we were assigned from Montreal startup Nectar. Nectar’s idea was to actually rethink the vital relationship between bees and beekeepers. In this first of three articles, we’ll shine some light on this honey of a project we recently completed. Let’s start with a bit about Nectar.


THE BEE, BADLY ABUSED

«If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.»

It’s impossible to say for sure whether this quotation, which is rightly or wrongly attributed to Einstein, is a dramatic prediction or a dire warning. But whether Einstein said it or not, or whether or not the hypothesis is realistic, one thing is certain, bees do play an essential role in our quality of life and in our very survival.

We’re not telling you anything new when we say that human activity is a real threat to our entire ecosystem…and bees are no exception. And we certainly cannot ignore the fact that bees are the main source of natural pollination for most of the agricultural products we depend on. So, if bees did disappear, they’d take close to a third of the food now being stocked in our grocery stores with them. Prepare to say a final farewell to potatoes, carrots, oranges, and many other of the staples you count on should that ever happen.

Your produce choices with and without bees
Your dairy choices with and without bees

We’ve been feeling the threat to our farmlands since the early 2000s. Every year, millions of bees are found dead in their hives. Even Desjardins has removed the bee from their logo, a major symbolic disappearance if ever there was one.

Fortunately, a collective awareness of this dangerous situation seems to be reaching critical mass. Just a few weeks ago, the government announced a bill to regulate the use of certain neonics pesticides, products that have been proven harmful to bees.


THE BEEKEEPER LACKING TOOLS

Beekeepers are doing all they can to ensure the survival of these crucial insects and slow down the disastrous trend that’s taking such a toll on them. Beekeeping today is lot more than just a job, it’s become a true vocation. Despite the massive technological changes over the last 20 years, beekeepers still have to make decisions based largely on their past experience and gut instinct.

In fact, to know what’s really going on in a hive, their only option is to open it up and have a look. The queen, her eggs, and the amount and type of bees and parasites present are all indicators of how healthy the hive is.

But manipulating the hive like this can disturb it for several days, a necessary evil that can have costly consequences on the process of pollination as well as on the production of honey. Not to mention the time, travel, and money that inspections like these require. This is where Nectar comes in…with a tool that allows beekeepers to oversee their hives in real time and intervene effectively only when necessary.

NECTAR, L'INTERPRÈTE BIENVEILLANT


NECTAR, THE BEE WHISPERER

During his years of studying industrial design, project initiator Marc-André Roberge developed a passion for amateur beekeeping.

«There’s something fascinating and quite startling about opening a hive for the first time. It’s only when you have these hundreds of bees swirling around you that you realize how complex the job really is and how much precise care it requires.»

Marc-André and Nectar co-founder with Xavier De Briey committed themselves to the mission of helping beekeepers better understand the needs of their beehives and their bees. The Nectar device is designed to facilitate understanding and interaction between bees and beekeepers.

The end result is Nectar, a device that fits seamlessly into today’s growing IOT ecosphere of connected objects. Placed inside any hive, Nectar captures and retransmits all the key vital signs: humidity, temperature, sounds, vibrations, geolocation, and weight. The data is processed and organized on a dashboard to keep beekeepers up to date on the overall health of their farms, so they instantly know when any anomalies pop up. They can then concentrate their efforts on hives requiring immediate action and let nature take its course for the others.

INSERER ALT TEXT

What’s so exciting about this product is that you quickly realize its tremendous potential. Sure, it will make everything much easier for beekeepers to ensure the health of their bees, but Nectar will also have an even greater impact on the entire pollination chain for all consumers of agricultural products. A project like this with such ramifications for improving quality of life for everyone in the world certainly doesn’t come around very often.

Of course, there’s still a long way to go before we can take a victory lap because developing a product for the IOT ecosphere is much more complex than it might seem. The first working prototype has been developed and tested and the company is now distributing devices in preparation for a beta phase launch in the weeks ahead.

INSERER ALT TEXT

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In the next post, we’ll review the process and product manufacturing. We’ll also take a detailed look at the checks and balances, and the main development issues, in addition to showing why close collaboration on expertise is so critical for this type of product.

To learn more about the Nectar project or if you are a beekeeper wanting to participate in the beta phase of the project, please check out the links below:

Online : www.nectar.buzz
Facebook : www.facebook.com/nectarbzz
Instagram : www.instagram.com/nectar.buzz

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