Gear Heads: Broadweigh SensorSpace

Broadweigh Product Specialist, Elliot Van Laere explains how SensorSpace is set to revolutionise the way riggers can access and manage data from Broadweigh’s wireless sensors. 

Launched in March, SensorSpace can be used to remotely monitor the status of any Broadweigh sensor – load or wind speed – and help site managers and rigging managers make decisions or act before, and during a show. Several years in the making, Broadweigh Product Specialist, Elliot Van Laere, sits down with TPi to describe how the cloud-based platform is set to revolutionise the way riggers can access and manage data from Broadweigh’s wireless sensors.

Broadweigh Product Specialist, Elliot Van Laere.

When did development of SensorSpace begin?

“We have been tracking the IoT world for the past decade. Mantracourt, the company behind Broadweigh, has been developing wireless solutions for radio, Bluetooth and cloud-based for many years, so we keep a close eye on the emerging technologies market. We soon noticed that cloud platforms were becoming increasingly reliable and accessible. They also allow us to integrate a really stable add-on to our existing telemetry system used in Broadweigh. Bringing SensorSpace to market has taken several years of on and off dedicated engineering effort.”

What was the goal in the development of the new cloud-based platform?

“Reliability, security, scalability, intelligence and most importantly, price. From the outset, the vision was to provide a service which enabled the data from our sensors to be available on the internet – a tool which is truly integrated into our everyday lives now. We also wanted to provide a system which didn’t cost the earth. Once someone has invested in a Broadweigh system, we want the cells to be for life and that means innovating so they have more use. Offering a cloud-based system gives another tool if the application requires it. Data in the cloud holds a lot of value for anyone who is responsible for monitoring an asset. If you know what is going on, you can make decisions and act if you need to.”

How has COVID-19 affected the R&D process?

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we deployed half of our workforce to remote working –production staff were based in our factory, while engineering, for the large part, were remote working. For some of our team, including engineering, the prospect of working from home really gave them focus and therefore spurred on R&D. Of course, bringing new products to market is a detailed and considered process, so it wasn’t as if the pandemic suddenly made us quicker. It threw up other challenges. Overall, we felt we were able to adapt very quickly and get back to the business of engineering. The company had already made investments in a new IT infrastructure pre-pandemic, so we had remote work spaces exactly as if we were in the office as well as having access to the usual test and manufacturing facilities.”

Which features in particular are going to be beneficial for riggers?

“Broadweigh users expect our system to be stacked with features but adaptable to the application – the professionals setting up systems with multiple sites, especially outdoors, could immediately see the benefits of switching-on a cloud add-on like SensorSpace. If you’ve already invested in a system to monitor load cells locally via a PC, handheld etc, SensorSpace gives you that extra tool to see exactly the same data but from anywhere in the world. Features such as condition-based alerts, history log, fully customisable dashboards and role-based user access really present increased power to individualise how data is utilised.”

How will this software revolutionise the workflow of riggers?

“SensorSpace is a game changer because you can open up the sensor data to as many people as you like. It means anyone who is responsible for ensuring an event remains within the specified tolerances can access and understand the data live, and receive alerts if things change.”

What gaps in the market does SensorSpace fill?

“We know windspeed monitoring is already in the cloud, but we believe we are unique in offering a solution which monitors both windspeed and load measurement, locally and in the cloud. For outdoor live events, this brings new insights to what is happening at the event. We know the load monitoring market is growing and there are a lot of different options out there. The trick is giving every product a full appraisal and making sure the company is investing and innovating.”


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What are the advantages of purchasing a SensorSpace plan?

“SensorSpace is a rental plan. That means no investment up front. Users either use software to connect their Broadweigh sensors to SensorSpace or a gateway device, which is a bit of hardware – a little black box.  We can have users up and running very quickly so they can have access to their data via the SensorSpace platform online. This is where the power really sits – the platform features are extremely clever.”

Is SensorSpace compatible with other sensors on the market?

“The easiest way to get data into SensorSpace is to use our own gateway devices, which connect our own instrumentation – our load cells and windspeed sensors, for example. As we expand support for new instrumentation, we will be producing gateways to suit – Wi-Fi and cellular. There are options to enable customers to get data from their own devices or systems into SensorSpace and we can work with companies to either provide custom endpoints to deliver their data or to help them use our API to deliver data directly. It is possible for us to work with customers who have custom requirements for extracting data from SensorSpace.”

What has the response been like following the virtual launch earlier this year?

“The response has been great! Given the current situation, the want for this product was far greater than initially imagined. Remote viewing is in high demand across all aspects of the entertainment industry. Those who are new to this platform have jumped on board due to the flexibility of the product and not having to be onsite to get real time data. Also the entry level price is very reasonable, which means very little outlay if you want to get started.”

Where can we expect to see SensorSpace being put through its paces in the coming months? 

“From stadiums to drive-in cinemas, we have clients using SensorSpace to monitor the tension on safety nets on multiple stadiums all from one remote control room; this gives the freedom to monitor these loads on a day-to-day basis without having to attend site. We will also see it in use with our Anemometer (windspeed sensor), giving continuous data to outdoor events in the event of any weather anomalies. Here, you can set certain thresholds and have warnings sent to your mobile device, all while logging the event. Off-site meteorologists will find this very useful to be able to compare their forecasts with the reality and hone the results. Having all this information to hand on demand is invaluable. It’s adding another tool to an already powerful product.”