Soleil – High-Density Sense and Control Solutions

by | May 10, 2018

Written by Jessica McKeil

Jessica McKeil is a cannabis writer and B2B content marketer living in British Columbia, Canada. Her focus on cannabis tech, scientific breakthroughs, and extraction has led to bylines with Cannabis & Tech Today, Terpenes and Testing, Analytical Cannabis, and Grow Mag among others. She is the owner and lead-writer of Sea to Sky Content, which provides content and strategy to the industry’s biggest brands.

Taking grow room sensor technology to the next logical step, Urban Gro recently launched a new innovative solution for managing grow room environmental conditions via the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Soleil Technologies incorporates low-power sensor products and SaaS technology to provide growers with detailed and timely data about their operations.

What is Soleil?

Soleil is an umbrella brand, currently consisting of three integrated products and services:

Soleil Sense: An innovative low-power sensor network system that is the basis of the company’s Soleil Technologies portfolio, feeding data on a plant-by-plant basis including soil statistics, overhead light intensity, air temperature, humidity and more back to the Soleil 360 platform. Soleil 360: An entirely cloud-based solution that seamlessly connects with all of the Soleil services. It integrates all data into a customizable dashboard suited to the needs of the grower. Soleil Control: A product designed to regulate the climate of the grow room, including irrigation and lighting system controls.

The Soleil system is the first-in-its-class sensor technology in cannabis cultivation relying on IoT technologies. It’s also the first to circumvent the issues associated with other sensor technologies like Bluetooth and star-based networks. By operating through something called a tree network (also called star-bus network) technologies, the system doesn’t get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of data, nor does it pull too much energy.

The Soleil Sensor specifically is a game changer in grows room monitoring technology. Instead of a cultivator relying on a handful of data points in the grow room, sending data only a few times each day, the Soleil Sensors pull data from every plant, every 30 seconds. Instead of getting overwhelmed, the more data the system receives, the better it functions. The low-energy and comparatively affordable plant-based sensors give the cultivator total grow-room information.

Soleil – Built for Scalability

Urban Gro has focused its Soleil product lineup on large-scale commercial operations. They have worked closely with their in-house scientists, designers, cultivators and industry partners, to develop a lineup that is entirely based on the needs of the cannabis business. Urban Gro has examined the sensor systems currently on the market and stripped them down to the fundamentals. What does the cultivator need to know about the grow room conditions, and what is the easiest method of securing that information? This is how Soleil was born.

Urban Gro also has incorporated scalability into Soleil’s design, typically a challenging part of any grow room sensor system. They are now working with 10,000-square-foot grow rooms, pulling 8000 points of data a day. The system is designed to scale to literally millions of square feet. Importantly, the system doesn’t get overloaded, and their partners who initially signed up on a trial basis have returned after the trial ended.

In fact, these partners have expanded their Soleil systems to cover much more than just a few experimental rooms. Why so much data? Again, it’s hard for cultivators to get everything they need from only a few points of data daily. Through what is essentially a data overload, the Soleil 360 dashboard allows its users to track trends, and make predictions based on the history information. Growers can literally see events coming, something that is not feasible with other programs. From the opinion of Urban Gro, more data is always better.

Worth noting, that cultivators lease these sensors in a subscription model, they don’t have to buy them. That way, as new technology is incorporated, they can easily trade up as they would if a new version of the iPhone came out. That migration path is important since we’re in an era where technology changes quickly. No cultivator wants to be stuck with thousands of out-dated sensors! Eliminating that risk makes the model way more affordable.

The Future of Soleil Technology

According to Dan Droller, the Vice President of Corporate Development, and Steve Wilcheck, the Product Development Engineer, the three-piece initial offering of Soleil is just the beginning. Using the technology as it stands today lets growers get instant notifications about the conditions in their operation, on a room-by-room basis. Cultivators are notified through the mobile platform about alarming variations in environmental conditions. Through mobile alarms, cultivators can pick up the phone or enter the grow room to solve issues as they arise.

In the future, perhaps in only one or two years, Droller and Wilcheck foresee the Soleil technology will provide for grow room automation. Perhaps, automation could correct these environmental issues without the interference of the grower. Droller and Wilcheck believe that soon, the technology will be there for a grow room’s internal controls to manage subtle environmental adjustments, based on preset parameters.

As commercial growers are well aware, more extensive operations, face challenges with shifting microclimates in massive grow rooms. Soleil can now help cultivators uncover and correct these issues before they develop into an area of concern. In the future, Soleil may even be able to control these problem areas without the grower lifting a finger. Soleil’s three-prong approach to grow room sensor technology is just getting started.