Elisa, Anicare Using 5G to Monitor Health of Reindeers in Finland

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With 5G technology, Elisa and Anicare have introduced new ways of monitoring the movements and health of reindeer in Finland. With HealTag, designed by Anicare Oy, herders are able to monitor their reindeer in real time on their mobile devices.

Finnish telecommunications, ICT and digital service company Elisa has helped the Anicare start-up create a way to improve the living conditions of reindeer and to monitor their health in Finland. The HealTag device, which is attached to a reindeer’s ear, makes it possible to monitor animals’ health in real time. It can also be used to locate an injured or sick animal in the wild.

Different kinds of tracking devices have already been used with reindeer, but there have been problems with their size and battery life, among other things. The battery of HealTag weighs approximately 30 grams and lasts around two years. It does not bother the reindeer thanks to the small size. HealTag uses NB-IoT network for functioning and Elisa provides Anicare NB-IoT subscriptions to utilize the technology.

Reindeer herders are able follow the movements of animals using a mobile application. If the state of health or activity of a reindeer changes, the user will receive a notification in real time. Elisa’s NB-IoT network guarantees the herders a real-time view that contributes to minimising losses caused by predators.

“We had the idea for the device years ago, but networks consumed so much power that we weren’t able to find a reasonable technical solution. When people started to talk about Narrowband IoT networks in connection with 5G, I immediately realised that we could finally implement the idea,” says Aki Marttila, the CEO of Anicare Oy.

Marttila adds that HealTag can easily be tailored to suit other applications where it has been expensive or even impossible to use sensors working over a network.

IoT can be used everywhere, including remote areas

NB-IoT is a new technology that uses 5G features and consumes very little power. It uses only a small part of the network’s bandwidth to connect a large number of devices to the network. As 5G technology and NB-IoT lower the prices of sensors, new applications will certainly emerge in the future. In April, Elisa became the first company in Finland to have a national network ready for NB-IoT.

“Elisa already has dozens of customers who use NB-IoT solutions, and the number is growing all the time. When it comes to 5G, the first thing that comes to your mind is the accelerated speed, but HealTag is a good example of all the other things that become possible thanks to 5G technologies. And they can be used both in cities and in sparsely populated areas,” says vice president Petteri Svensson from Elisa.

Elisa provides NB-IoT subscriptions to Anicare, but it has also been actively involved in developing the innovation together with the start-up. Aki Marttila thanks Elisa for its active collaboration.

“When developing a new product, information is needed quickly at different stages. Communication with Elisa has been extremely good,” he says.

Anicare has been developing HealTag this year, and it has tested prototypes in field tests. The product will become available to reindeer herders in 2019.