SOAK logo

We just had the great honour of being announced as the Australian winner of the 2008 Imagine Cup and will be flying to France in July to compete in the world finals (visit for more details). This is a fantastic award to have won so I thought I would take the time to explain and give an overview of what SOAK is and the vision we have for its future development.

Elevator pitch
SOAK is an integrated software and hardware platform with the aspiration of helping farmers achieve sustainable use of their land. This is achieved through the integrated use of environmental sensing, rich visual front ends to display the information to the farmer, and a subsystem which controls farm equipment such as sprinkler systems

Sensing the environment
SOAK supports a wide range of sensors such as:

  • Temperature
  • Rainfall
  • Dam depth
  • Salinity
  • Etc.

These sensors provide SOAK with the relevant real time information that is needed for the more advanced functionality.

External data resources
SOAK utilises a number of resources such as Microsoft Virtual Earth for mapping data, Weather forecasting for predictions on when to water, and the British Telecom SDK for SMS notifications when there is a critical event at a farm (such as a fault in farm equipment)

Manipulating the environment
An automated watering system allows for a very fine level of control over when to water. The weather forecasting is taken into consideration when calculating if now is the best time to water the crop. If rain is predicted to fall in the next 48hours, the system can hold back from water so as to reduce the water consumption of the farm.

User interaction
Currently SOAK has implemented 3 delivery mechanisms each targeted to a specific use and data consumption.
The Silverlight web application is the main access point for SOAK. Here we present very detailed and visual information tailored to management users. This was created as a mashup between Microsoft Virtual Earth and Silverlight 2.0 Beta1.

Main view sector information graphs

The Windows Vista Sidebar gadget provides data at a glance with the most important statistics about the areas they are concerned with.

Vista gadget

The PDA application provides field operators with real-time summary information about the areas they are visiting and gives them access to a manual over-ride of the sprinkler system when out in the field.
Vista gadget

Additional information
This was a very brief introduction to the SOAK system, if you would like to see a better one page overview please look at the executive summary that was submitted to the judges. SOAK executive summary

My team mate Long Zheng has also blogged about our project

If you would like to contact me for further information about SOAK, please leave your details.
My twitter feed is if you would like to keep informed of the last SOAK information