Partner / Advisor — Cooler Connect
Cooler Connect is a cellular-based tracking and monitoring device for ice cream coolers like the ones you’d find in convenience stores all around the world.
The device uses legacy 900 Mhz sensors for remote temperature and door sensing in the coolers. Manufacturers and distributors use the Cooler Connect device to keep track of how many times the cooler door is opened and to monitor the temperature to make sure it stays within an acceptable range. If the temperature gets too far out of range it can cause a very expensive “meltdown.”
The Cooler Connect device also sends alerts if power is lost. It has simple GPS capability using Telit’s Cell Locate. I chose the Telit 910 family chipset because of the number of different configurations this chipset comes in with different features. The system is currently in testing with one of the largest ice cream companies in the world.
I have been an owner and partner in this project since the beginning and oversaw the hardware design and cellular connectivity. I selected the chipset, set up and negotiated the carrier relationship, reviewed the contract and designed the network.
Although the design of this project was fairly straightforward, there were a number of unique design aspects that made the project challenging and exciting:
- We decided to use an internal cellular antenna with a switching jack to facilitate the use of an external cellular antenna if needed. This simplifies the installation for over 90% of coolers where an external antenna is not needed.
- The initial design used a dedicated GPS chip that was not reliable when the unit is deployed indoors. For subsequent designs we used the carriers’ cellular location technology and Telit’s Cell Locate system to get a less exact (within a few city blocks), but more reliable position with a simplified hardware design and lower cost.
- Because the sensors are installed inside the cooler and operate in low temperatures, special consideration was given to the sensor battery and chemistry.