Campus News

Internet of things workshop shows future of UB, Buffalo

Engineering student demonstrates the sensor on a "smart" recycling tote.

A member of the internet of things class shows off a sensor attached to the underside of the lid of a "smart" recycling tote. Photo: Cory Nealon


Published December 11, 2017 This content is archived.


In the not-too-distant future, parking could be a lot easier, recycling could be more efficient, and finding community space at the library and other buildings would be painless.


The internet of things (IoT), the tech industry’s buzzword connecting everyday objects to the internet.

Josep Jornet, assistant professor of electrical engineering, teaches a class on the internet of things. And on Thursday night at Davis Hall, students in the class demonstrated the projects they’ve been working on this semester.

One the projects features a “smart” recycling tote that city of Buffalo officials lent to the class. Students attached to the underside of the lid electronics that monitor when the tote is full, its location and other information. The electronics then send that data over a wireless network to whomever is in charge of the totes.

The technology could be used to improve the efficiency of recycling routes. It also could alert officials that someone’s tote is full, thereby presenting an opportunity to pick up the recyclables a day or two early.

Computer display of "Smart parking solutions" project.

In the "Smart Parking Solutions" project, parking lots and ramps are equipped with sensors that would alert drivers when and where spaces open up. Photo: Cory Nealon

Another project focuses on equipping parking lots and ramps with sensors to alert drivers when and where spaces open up. If advanced, it could help quell parking complaints, especially at places like UB, where finding a spot can be difficult.

Other projects focused on mobile advertising systems, and a way to monitor community space at public buildings. The latter could allow librarians to monitor in real time which conference rooms are open.

The class was made possible by UB’s partnership with Sigfox, a global IoT connectivity provider

Sigfox differs from conventional wireless networks because it employs a unique device-to-cloud communications approach to put simple objects online. The approach, which uses radio frequencies ideal for sending small amounts of data over long distances, is known as a low-power wide-area (LPWA) network. It reduces the cost to connect to the internet, and it limits battery consumption.

“One of great things about this partnership is that we’re able to implement IoT technology into the classroom with immersive, hands-on projects that could really benefit UB, Buffalo and other communities,” says Jornet.