How Ottawa-based Giatec connects concrete to the Internet of Things

Techopia Live dealt with some dense topics this week – literally – as Giatec founder Aali Alizadeh joined us to talk about how the company is hoping to “revolutionize the concrete industry.”

The Ottawa-based firm develops sensors that can analyze the structural integrity of concrete structures, detecting cracks before they lead to collapse. Its smart concrete sensors are embedded into structures as they’re built, communicating this data to the mobile phones of operators, engineers, owners and other decision-makers as to what course of action is appropriate – before it’s too late.

“The idea of smart concrete is more than that. We want to make jobsites more connected, structures smart. All the contractors, operators, owners, engineers, even people who are living in the structures can get information about what’s happening in the structure at different stages in the structure’s lifecycle,” Alizadeh told Techopia Live.

As excited as he is about the potential to disrupt the construction industry, Alizadeh says he’s learned tough lessons about moving too quickly in an industry built on stability. Strict rules as to how structures can be built slows down the adoption of new technologies until a building authority can approve it.

“It’s kind of like the medical industry, everything is regulated … If there is an innovation, it is not adopted right away.”

Alizadeh decided early on that if Giatec was going to make its mark in concrete, it had to work within the established foundations of the sector.

Alizadeh

“We started with very, very innovative technologies and we wanted to change the concrete industry with those technologies. But it was way ahead of its time. So we went back a little bit and we started pushing the boundaries as opposed to going to something beyond the boundaries of the construction industry.”

To hear about Giatec’s experience in the C100 48 Hours in the Valley program this past summer and to learn more about the technology the firm is developing, watch the video above.