Startup Story: eKoPro Solutions: Building an Ecological Chain of Smart Environmental Control for Aquaculture
Established in 2015, eKoPro Solutions specializes in services such as image visual analysis, energy management and environmental control. With the rapid development of Industry 4.0 and IoT (Internet of Things) technologies, Gloria Chang, CEO of eKoPro Solutions, noticed that there have been many successful cases of software and hardware cross-field integration in energy, industry and life. However, applications in agriculture are rarely seen, waiting to be developed.
"Agriculture is intrinsically limited in cross-field integration since a lot of its management knowhow is based on the system of apprenticeship; once the skills accumulated from the past is unable to pass on to the next generation due to the lack of appropriate apprentices, valuable experiences cannot be continued.”
Adopt Fuzzy Algorithm to Achieve an Environment Identification Accuracy of 80%
Most of the agricultural environmental control technologies nowadays are based on turn-key transfer; not only is the scale of construction large, but full investment at once is required. For this reason, eKoPro Solutions was focused on serving small and medium-sized agricultural and aquacultural enterprises at the beginning of its establishment, creating a model with low entry barrier and flexibility for expansion.
With ten years of practical experience in energy management, environmental control research and market analysis from the Industrial Technology Research Institute, Gloria Chang led a team to visit various places for research and investigation. The team established experimental sites from open-air earth ponds, concrete ponds, semi-indoor ponds, to high-density circulating aquaculture and container fish farms. To avoid the collapsing of agricultural and fishery market prices caused by technology upgrades, eKoPro Solutions started with marine culture, such as white shrimp, Murray cod, and clownfish, which is difficult, economically valuable, and high in market demand.
The water color identification technology of eKoPro Solutions adopts the fuzzy algorithm, allowing the success rate of smart monitoring training model to reach as high as 80%. By implementing simultaneously cost-control measures, the construction cost of the system can be reduced to one-tenth of that in traditional water quality monitoring. The smart field monitoring system with simple process replaces the time-consuming manual inspection of fish farms, allowing fish farm operators to save money in labor and optimize management.
Big Data + Open Data AI Estimation Water Model
With the difference in soil and texture at the bottom of the fish farm, the bacterial flora and algal facies of the water body may show diversified variations. The difference in fish migration direction and the spots generated on fish bodies all reveal information the water environment. "Aquacultural water quality monitoring mainly focuses on the two criteria, namely water color and dissolved oxygen. In the past, aquacultural experts can observe the water color and the distribution of algae with their naked eyes to determine which bacterial culture should be used." Gloria Chang said.
eKoPro Solutions has created a smart aquacultural expert system to replace the traditional "naked eye" inspection with AI "smart eye" monitoring, allowing fish farm operators to obtain real-time monitoring data of dissolved oxygen, pH, ORP, temperature, and color of the culture water 24 hours a day and eliminating errors caused by manual recording. Moreover, the system developed by eKoPro Solutions enables users to integrate tasks such as monitoring, early warning, and management into a smartphone, providing features including production history digitization, aquacultural case establishment, AI robot interpretation, and online expert consultation.
In the past, to allow aquatic species such as fish and shrimp to survive in aquaculture, waterwheels must be operated frequently to maintain sufficient dissolved oxygen level in fish farms. This leads to not only waste of energy, but also loss of valuable aquacultural data. eKoPro Solutions uses water color identification technology, meteorological data, records of temperature, pressure and light to predict the dissolved oxygen in water, which then serves as an indicator for triggering the operation of waterwheel.
Open IoT Strategy to Create API Inclusive Alliance
eKoPro Solutions continues to collaborate with National Taiwan Ocean University and National United University in carrying out industry-university research projects, optimizing the experimental data through working with seeded fish farms. To strengthen the ecological chain of Taiwan's smart agriculture, eKoPro Solutions has adopted the Open API strategy to attract third-party hardware operators to invest in creating a more inclusive and high-quality platform system.
With the frequent occurrence of extreme climates, ecosystems and food harvests have been continuously impacted; promoting smart agriculture to create a sustainable environment and improve the profit of the agriculture, fishery and food industries has become a new trend. In the future, eKoPro Solutions will continue to connect with the markets in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Europe and America through smart aquaculture and smart agriculture, and cooperate with large platform companies and startups around the world to transform valuable farming and fishery experience into scientific agricultural and aquacultural data. Through the added value of cloud computing, excellent agricultural and aquacultural technologies and practical experiences can be passed on.
Written/Photographed by: Startup Terrace Editorial team