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Internet of Things Seeks Ultimate Vintage in a Canadian Winery

  • Henry of Pelham testing BCE, Huawei, BeWhere technology
  • ‘We cannot control nature, so we have to work with nature’

A brisk wind sweeps through the Henry of Pelham winery in Niagara, Ontario, as a farmer inspects sensors on Cabernet Sauvignon vines in preparation for ice-wine season.

The sensors are part of a pilot project by BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. and Toronto-based software company BeWhere Inc. in search of the ultimate vintage in one of Canada’s main wine-growing regions.

The sensors, which are a little larger than an iPhone, are charged by solar panels. They can capture data on things like temperature, water levels and humidity to improve vineyard operations, and help prevent vine disease. The technology consists of BeWhere sensors, Huawei chips and Bell’s new wireless network, “LTE-M,” a low power, wide-range network.

“We cannot control nature, so we have to work with nature,” Paul Speck, president of Henry of Pelham, said Thursday at the vineyard. “The more we understand what nature’s doing, the more we can react. This technology does that and it does that very inexpensively.”

If successful, the Internet of Things project will expand beyond vineyards to other agricultural industries. IoT refers to everyday tools — from automobiles to home appliances — connected to computer systems to be more functional. Many manufacturers have started bringing such devices to market and companies including Hitachi Ltd. and Dell Technologies Inc. have invested heavily in these platforms.

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