Press Release from July 31, 2014

Ferli, the World’s First Cloud-Based Open-Source Industrial Control System (ICS) is Established by Central Illinois Innovator

The world’s first computer controlled cryogenic processor was created by Pete Paulin.  Now his son, Prescott, is bringing it to the cloud, and breaking barriers for industrial process control applications by enhancing machine-to-machine communications using a Raspberry Pi controller.

Technology in the culinary world and elsewhere is about to heat up, thanks to new innovations from keeping metals ultra-cool.  In Icelandic, Ferli means “process” and will launch as the new home for open-source process control enthusiasts by the end of 2016.  Since 1966, 300 Below, Inc. has built cryogenic processors that reach depths of -320˚F (196˚C), but this year the company is releasing its enhanced temperature control technology under open-source license in the hope of improving industrial control systems around the world.

Ferli will help a new generation of technology-savvy entrepreneurs to design the next generation of process control hardware for the cloud while moving beyond complicated on-premise solutions.  For home users, potential applications include sous-vide cooking through immersion circulators that control water temperature, beer brewing by controlling yeast temperatures and ventilation, and also beekeeping to maintain optimal temperatures inside bee hives.  Using a Raspberry Pi hardware controller, Ferli’s initial designs incorporate temperature probes for temperature measurement as well as a circuit to control a solenoid or other switch. 

300 Below will host Ferli’s web-based process control application in the cloud at no charge for non-commercial use, provided users are experimenting above cryogenic temperatures (anything over -110˚F).  Users will also be able to share the temperature control profiles they create so, for example, cooking the optimal steak at medium-rare will be as easy as clicking a button to download the recipe and execute it on their temperature controller at home.  Ferli will also enable process control from a mobile device, so long as both the controller and the cell phone are connected to the internet.

For startups with minimal resources, Ferli enables business to monitor, operate and adjust their business process operations remotely, while setting alerts via text message or voice line through the Twilio API, which can notify entrepreneurs of unusual activity after hours.

In the private sector, 300 Below’s technology holds immediate potential for catering companies that want to monitor the cooking of big feasts remotely while ensuring proper temperature controls.  For heavy industry, the Ferli platform will be seen as a significant milestone to foster secure communication standards and open-source architecture for future industrial control systems.

Security and automation for Industrial Machine-To-Machine (M2M) networks is seen as a daunting challenge, with private security researchers like Joe Weiss of Applied Control Solutions estimating over 1 million industrial control systems (ICS) and process controllers are already connected to the internet without authorization.  For power grids and other critical infrastructure, Ferli represents a significant development in fostering experimentation, monitoring, and secure control of industrial devices.  300 Below, Inc. will seek guidance from defense industry partners to foster a stable, reliable platform for industrial process control in the cloud.

Embedded computing platforms are often shaped by industrial clients even as consumer solutions are connected into grids attached to critical infrastructure.  For example, excess solar power generated by a residential customer may be allowed to return into the main power grid to obtain rebates or energy credits, and this smart grid requires bi-directional mutually-supported communications to ensure the energy process is switched on and off as needed, with local automation and data logs synchronized with a cloud-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) controller like Ferli.  As business-to-consumer (B2C) solutions expand to include more on-premise devices managed remotely, new platforms like Ferli will help enable low total cost of ownership (TCO) for both consumers and private industry.