“A sensor capable of measuring 24 to 48 points per day and thus take the pulse of waste production”
The Rennes-based start-up Heyliot is making waves in the waste management industry with the launch of its ultra-lightweight, high-performance and eco-friendly sensor. Co-founder Loïc Coeurjoly walks us through the company’s journey and introduces its solution, which won the Orange Datavenue Challenge in the Smart City category.
Could you tell us a bit about Heyliot?
Cyril Pradel and I founded Heyliot in 2017 as an Orange spin-off, aiming to explore the world of opportunity opened up by the new IoT networks. We were looking into a first use case linked to a newspaper publisher who wanted to monitor sales in order to analyse the demand for newspapers and optimise stock levels. At the time, the ultrasonic sensors available on the market were not capable of sending sufficient data during the day for clear analysis. While studying the technologies and components that could respond to this need, we turned to a laser system called “Time of Flight”, which measures how long it takes for a wave to travel a distance through a medium. We combined this with LoRaWan connectivity to arrive at today’s product. The benefits of this solution were tested in the field, namely in a study carried out in Esplanade de la Défense in Paris, using the daily newspaper 20 Minutes. We found that sensors installed on the self-service newspaper stands could make a difference. Now, there are no longer any newspaper stands at La Défense; instead, people distribute newspapers at the spots where there was greatest demand for newspapers, according to our measurements. In the process, our customer was able to increase distribution whilst reducing the cost of having stands in a public area.
How did you get into waste management?
We reflected on our sensor’s potential as part of the spin-off project and in the course of its different iterations explored at the Digital Entrepreneur School. We considered the waste management industry, where waste sorting was growing, and found that our technology could compete with existing ultrasonic solutions. There were several disadvantages and limitations associated with the existing solutions that could be avoided with our LoRaWan technology: they were expensive and energy-intensive and provided only two to four measurements per day. The sensor developed by Heyliot is lightweight (117 grams), with a single battery lasting four to seven years, fewer electrical components, and it provides 24 to 48 measuring points each day. We can therefore take the “pulse” of waste production using a number of key indicators including waste input, collections and days of heavier usage. Communities and businesses can thereby manage various waves of waste build-up simultaneously and with precision and flexibility, as well as maintain full control over resources.
How does the Heyliot sensor work?
The laser technology patented by Heyliot behaves much like a conical beam of light from a torch, which expands with distance. A matrix of measuring points is created within this cone, which are picked up by the sensor. With these measurements weighing only a few bytes, the LoRaWan or “0G” networks work perfectly here, with their ability to simply send an SMS from time to time for an optimised environmental equation. Moreover, the whole solution is eco-friendly. The product has an eco-design with, as I said, a single battery that is easy to replace and very few components — making it easy to disassemble and recycle.
The data is then sent to a dedicated platform that is under constant development. The measurements are processed according to factors such as container type and waste category, and are then sent to the customer as frequently and in as much detail as they like. We also have a system of qualified alerts that we can send to the customer via APIs or push notifications.
And finally, can you tell us about your Datavenue Challenge award and future plans at Heyliot?
Our success in the challenge makes us feel better about our age: we have now passed the three-year mark and our product is becoming marketable, certified and proved by experience. Having this recognition from a jury of experts and pure players is a real confidence boost!
The solution developed by Heyliot is a bit like the copper line that we put in the containers. Going forward, our challenge will be to expand the services around this line, and further increase the value of the data that we collect and analyse.