December 17, 2015
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Ionic and the Internet of Things, Part 3: IoT Solutions for Smart Structures

Katie Ginder-Vogel

We love sharing the stories of the forward-thinking developers who are building Ionic apps for The Internet of Things (IoT). Recently, we learned about Ontario, Canada-based Giatec Scientific, a knowledge-based company whose products solve engineering problems, using cutting-edge research and technology, to help engineers manage civil infrastructure. One of their newest products, Giatec SmartRock™, transmits information to an Ionic app. Here’s how it works.

Giatec SmartRock™ is a rugged, waterproof, wireless sensor that monitors the temperature of concrete from the fresh stage to the solid stage. The SmartRock™ can be easily installed on the rebar and embedded in the concrete formwork before the concrete is poured, to monitor the temperature of concrete as it sets. The sensor records continuous measurements that can be downloaded on site anytime as the concrete solidifies, using the SmartRock Ionic app on any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.

“The continuous monitoring of concrete temperature can be used as a QC/QA method, as well as a maturity-based strength estimation of concrete,” says Aali R. Alizadeh, the CEO of Giatec Scientific, who holds a PhD and is a Professional Engineer and an Adjunct Professor in Civil Engineering at the University of Ottowa. “The field monitoring of concrete temperature can also help with optimizing the formwork removal time, application of load on the structure, and adjusting the curing temperature of concrete in the construction job site.”

Alizadeh is an active researcher, focusing on the application of nanotechnology tools and analytical methods to understand the nature of cement-based materials and tailor their properties for enhanced performance. He has also worked on durability issues in concrete materials and methods to quantify structural deterioration. Alizadeh has published over 70 journal and conference papers, as the result of his research in the field of concrete materials. As a member of ASTM, ACI, and CSA, he regularly contributes to the development of new standards and guidelines on concrete materials testing.

When it came to creating an app that would work with the SmartRock sensor, Alizadeh’s team chose Ionic so they could edit and compile the SmartRock app for different mobile operating systems, using one source code.

“Our customer base uses various mobile platforms, mainly iOS and Android,” Alizadeh says. “Our goal was to develop the minimum viable product (MVP) as quickly as possible and get it to the market for large adoption. This platform was exceptionally effective in finalizing the mobile app in a relatively short period.”

Alizadeh’s team used special APIs for data analysis and visualization and multiple views from Ionic, like the header, list, tabs, and state.

“Ionic can compile for different OSs and already has a lot of plugins, such as the BLE, which is extensively used in various mobile apps that we are developing for Giatec’s smart concrete testing technologies,” says Alizadeh. “We think that the flexibility that is offered through Ionic is a great advantage that we can leverage in the development of IoT solutions for the construction industry.”

Giatec is planning to release the next generation of smart sensors for different applications in the construction industry with cloud-based communication capabilities.

“This will bring Giatec one step closer to making truly smart structures a reality,” says Alizadeh.

Katie Ginder-Vogel