Mike, what does SteadyServ do?
Well, SteadyServ has put together a platform that allows you to
handle inventory and order management of your draft beer in either
retail establishments like restaurants and bars, or even at
hospitality like Marriott or Hyatt Corporation and in their various
hotels around the world. We put together a sensor here and this
sensor takes weight readings every five minutes and sends them up to
our cloud service through an Intel gateway over a ZigBee connection
that turns around and takes those weight readings and watches as the
keg depletes as the server turns around and pours or the bartenders
pours beers out from the various taps that they have in their
sensor is actually made out of both rubber, plastic and aluminum. We
have an aluminum shield on top. These rubber pads right here allow
the keg to sit up slightly off of the sensor and take more accurate
readings. We have four different load cells that we average the
weight readings across. And those are then turned around and
averaged and sent up to the cloud. The hardware is made up of three
individual boards inside. The first one is a quite simple battery
board where we can put the unit in test mode for manufacturing
purposes. We also have an RFID board in here.
so the way that the kegs are paired to a sensor, is we read an RFID
tag that has a specially encoded numeric value in it and we turn
around and we associate that in the cloud with the brewer, the beer
product name, and the vessel type. Because these sensors can handle
various keg sizes, whether it be a half barrel or quarter barrel or
even a 50 L keg or 40 L keg or a 30 L keg. The third board that we
have inside is the main processor board. It has a freescale
processor on it. It turns around and controls the battery life. It
also is the one that times out every five minutes to take that weight
also has an integrated ZigBee transmitter in it, and can turn around
and transmit those weight readings to the gateway over a ZigBee
connection. Our ZigBee network is slightly different—we
do not use a mesh type ZigBee, we use a star type ZigBee network.
Where the gateway is the coordinator and the sensors basically are
nodes around the network itself. The other piece to this is that
that way the sensors can go to sleep, and they go into a deep sleep
in order to draw less battery current and extend the life of the
battery. You can change the battery out by simply opening up the
door on the underneath right here, you can take this door off, and
you can take the battery out, and replace it with a fresh one. Right
now, the batteries last anywhere from a year to 15 months.
What kind of batteries are you using there?
They are basically lithium ion type battery — low voltage and quite
simply they are like your phone handset at home type batteries.
Alright. Here you press the button when you want to pair, what
happens is that you will see right here, we have a red light, so when
you press the button, and you pass the RFID over this antenna the LED
will flash and you know the sensors have
Right now you are concentrating only on beers—is that right?
That’s correct. But there are actually other beverages in the
marketplace for example, wine. We can handle wine as well. There is
something out in the market called the sixth barrel. The wine
industry is moving toward distributing their wines through sixth
barrels. They actually look like old Coke canisters, if you will,
from years past. There is a wine manufacturer in Australia called
Yellow Tail, you may have heard of it, they have actually purchased
up all the sixth barrels inventory in the world in order to
distribute their wines in sixth barrels. So that they don’t
have to deal with bottles and the cost of bottles quite frankly.
They get to reuse these sixth barrel kegs over and over to distribute
their wines, just as the beer manufacturers get to do with their
How do they keep it fresh? Is it nitrogen inside?
Yes. They actually infuse nitrogen in the kegs in order to get the
beer out, to get the wine out, excuse me.
That’s the beer talking.
Yeah, that’s the beer talking.
Now I understand it is off to an API that is… at least it works to
use some of the data that all the sensing is going through.
Yes, so what we are doing is in our partnership with Intel we are
moving to a more structured data warehouse using an open source
Hadoop type of architecture. And what we want to do is we want to
develop reports that get extracted from that data warehouse as well
as provide an API to that data warehouse. So that’s also the
big piece that we have running here is we are getting into big data.
We are going to provide an API. That API can be used by brewers in
order to see how well their beers are selling in a particular
territory etc. or the distributors—perhaps they want to know
how well their clients are doing with some of the beers that are
getting put out there. It is also being a big hit with the craft
breweries. The craft brewers are really trying to figure out where
to sell their beer next. And so they may test market some of their
products in order to get those beers into those distributors and
distributed to those retail locations going forward.
Especially with the microbrewer, they need to make checks to measure
frequently because they can’t rely on how many millions of
units they are shipping.
Right, so they get to look at their data almost virtually real time.
Or they can do it through the API in real time if they choose to do
What about a smaller version? A lot of times, a weight based sensor
like this would be very useful. Are there any other versions that
you make or are planning?
Actually, there is. So we are actually going to shrink the size of
our sensor. Right now, you can put a sixth barrel right on the
inside of these rubber pads, but what we want to do is we actually
want to develop a sixth barrel sensor that looks more like a hockey
basically just a little bit larger than a hockey pod that will slide
underneath the sixth barrel. We have a lot of there are a
lot of retail establishments out in the marketplace that have
kegerators in their bars and what they are doing is they are putting
these sixth barrels inside in order to handle more than a dozen taps
that they want to provide for their customers. So putting a sixth
barrel on top of something like this will work, but it takes up space
within the cooler, valuable space that they could add more product to
if they so choose.
What is so special? What is it like being a tech company in
Actually the tech industry in Indiana is becoming quite popular.
Down at IU, they have a big program informatics with they are
developing a UX Consortium.
I think they were one of the first informatics programs.
Yes. Actually, they are one of the premier UX programs in the
country. We also have in Indianapolis at IUPUI which is a joint
venture between Indiaana University and Purdue University. They have
one of the best video scanning algorithm development departments in
the country there as well. The FBI turned to them quite often in
order to do facial recognition of video tapes etc. that are becoming
quite popular obviously. There are a lot of tech firms. And the tech
growth in Indiana is being fostered by the state as well. So
actually they are an investor in SteadyServ as well, the state is.
They have an Elevate fund there and they invest in our company as
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