LiFi4Food, revolutionizing precision agriculture with IoT for sustainable and efficient farming

The spin-off was born in December 2022 within IMDEA Networks

27 December 2023

In 2022, LiFi4Food emerged as an innovative creation born from the synergy of four researchers at IMDEA Networks in Madrid. PhD Students Dayrene Frómeta Fonseca and Javier Talavante, together with Dr. Borja Genovés Guzmán and Dr. Domenico Giustiniano gave life to a revolutionary solution that promises to completely transform the landscape of precision agriculture. LiFi4Food represents not only a technological milestone, but also a commitment to a sustainable future, where innovation and intelligence come together to boost efficiency in food production.

“LiFi4Food provides an IoT system for monitoring precision agriculture crops. By deploying a large number of devices, it is possible to monitor and control crop parameters in high-tech greenhouses,” explains Talavante. These devices are equipped with sensors that provide direct knowledge of the conditions in each plant: temperature, soil humidity, and lighting… Thanks to this information, growers can optimize water and energy use inside greenhouses, maximize crop yields, and automate tasks more easily.

“The main element of our solution is the battery-free IoT platform. Eliminating the battery reduces the size, cost, and maintenance of the devices, facilitates their recycling, and eliminates risks of leakages to the crops,” Frómeta stresses. Most standard wireless communication protocols consume too much power to operate reliably without a battery. LiFi4Food makes this possible through the use of very low-power communications technologies.

The first is LiFi, which uses light from LED lamps to send information. These are deployed in greenhouses to provide optimal light for crops. The IoT device uses a solar cell to simultaneously receive this information and obtain power and operate uninterruptedly. The second is the radio frequency backscatter (RF backscatter): the IoT device does not itself generate the signals in which it sends the information from the sensors, but reflects the radio frequency waves in the environment. The IoT devices are networked to keep the farmer up-to-date with the conditions in his greenhouse in real time.

Dayrene and Javier have taken this project to different training programs for entrepreneurs such as Santander X Explorer and EIT Jumpstarter. In the latter, they won the first prize in the Food category, awarded with 10,000 euros for the development of the company. They have recently finished their participation in the EIT Seedbed, focused on increasing their knowledge of the market and the impact of their product. Their journey has taken them to different events such as the “Seedbed Showcase” (held in Lisbon in 2023), the “4th Global Vertical Farming Show” and the “EIT Food Venture Summit”.

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