Photo: Kristoffer Ödmark and Emil Fresk during the installation of an early prototype of the WISPR system.
Widefind is one of the finalists in the Swedish Mining Innovation Award 2020 for their positioning system designed for underground tunnel environments that provide high accuracy information about the movement of people and machinery in real time. We had a few words with Kristoffer Ödmark who is one of the founders and CEO of Widefind.
Congratulations Kristoffer, Widefind is a finalist in the Swedish Mining Innovation Award 2020! How does it feel?
– I am very surprised and very happy. When you work with something for a long time, you easily miss the forest for the trees, so when I completely unexpectedly found out that we have been selected for the final, it really felt incredibly fun. We have invested a lot of time and effort in creating our solution for underground mines, and it gives a lot of energy that we are noticed in this way and get confirmation that what we do is important.
Tell us a little about your positioning system.
– WISPR is a product that creates data on where things are underground, not completely different from how GPS works. In the same way that the position data from GPS is used by all possible applications above ground, from Google Maps to autonomous vehicles, our idea is that the data from WISPR can be used by existing and new applications underground.
– The WISPR system consists of a positioning network for the mine, tags for people and machines, a server software that can be installed locally at the customer and a management software through which the customer easily manages the system. The actual position data is created when the tags communicate with the network, which is done via ultra wideband radio, a wireless technology that is very suitable for underground tunnel networks.
What makes your solution so unique?
– We learned already during the time at the university that underground mines are environments where it is challenging to make positioning work and where it is difficult to install and maintain technical solutions in general. Our view has long been that a product that should work really well underground should be adapted to the conditions that exist there. For this reason, we have designed the WISPR system precisely for underground tunnel environments in terms of everything from positioning algorithms to the physical products.
Why is it an important innovation?
– We know that safety, productivity and efficiency are very important issues for the mining companies and we are convinced that the more insight you get into the business the better you will be able to handle these important issues, we think this is proven by innovative companies in the industry. But insight is in turn increasingly based on the right data being available and we believe that more and better data on where things are underground is an important step on the way to the mine of the future.
Widefind is in the final together with Orexplore and Minalyze, what do you think about that?
– Just as it is highlighted in Swedish Mining Innovation’s press release, we work with a bit different things, so we have not had any direct contact with any of the companies. However, we have heard about both Orexplore and Minalyze and we are very impressed by their innovative work. It feels fantastic that we are in the final with such forward-looking companies.
What else is happening at Widefind right now?
– We are currently working on a delivery to LKAB in Kiruna. The relationship between LKAB and Widefind dates back to the time at the university and they were the first to place an order for the WISPR system. Furthermore, we are of course continuously working to further develop WISPR, including in the test bed that Boliden has long provided us with in the Kristineberg mine. We also have collaborations with other companies in the mining industry where we explore the opportunities that arise with careful positioning.
And finally, how do you see the future?
– We see a very bright future and believe that the need for what we are really good at will only increase as more and more mines modernize and digitize their operations. Right now we work in Sweden with some of the world’s most modern mining companies, but we know that there are many around the world who are good and of course we also want to work with them.
Congratulations again Kristoffer and Widefind! Next week we present the last of the three finalists.
Kristoffer Ödmark, CEO Widefind
Hear Kristoffer about Widefind’s innovation