The ONiO Manifesto
At ONiO, we are always on the look-out for interesting and meaningful junction points between technology and sustainability - the first is obvious - we are a tech company and happily so - we see technology as an immense possibility, a hugely powerful tool that can potentially be wielded for the highest good. Sustainability, for us, isn’t so much a cause - it is simply how life works - every creature on this planet acts towards the sustained wellbeing and health of itself, its species and its offspring. They do this instinctively - unconsciously if you will. We humans, for all our intelligence, powers and capabilities, have had to resort to slogans and ideologies based around sustainability. It is simply in our self-interest, as individuals and as a collective, to orient ourselves in the best possible way, towards a healthy and sustainable future. That can only happen if the planet we live on is healthy and thriving - there is simply no other way - this is not so much a philosophy as an existential fact of life.
We are a fledgling company that is yet to launch our first product. We have made massive strides in just a few short years - from having just an idea to nearly being on the cusp of launching a wireless MCU that can power itself for years without batteries! This is not an attempt at self-praise - far from it - we’ve managed to do this in such a short time for a reason - vision. We had a vision. A vision that cut across individual interests and monetary concerns - you see, we couldn’t have any individual interests or concerns about the remunerative aspects of business simply because they didn’t exist when we started out - we had no revenue, we had no profits, we had no product even! Any entrepreneur can relate to this - all we had was a vision - if you ever wonder how people are able to start out with nothing and build hugely meaningful structures - it’s this - vision.
A vision, by definition, is all-inclusive. The term vision presupposes a grand scale - desires can be petty, trivial or profane - but not visions. By definition, they imply something larger than ourselves, something global in outlook. Our vision was a world where the raw power of modern semiconductor technology can be harnessed towards a healthier future. Hey, we get it - that might sound a bit too cheesy at a time where just about everyone is out to change the world. But, any entrepreneur or rather any successful person would agree that the grander the vision, the more sure the outcome. The more we limit ourselves to details and technicalities in the beginning, the more we narrow the possibilities of life - life is too big. Our world is too big for our little minds to comprehend. That’s where visions come in handy - inevitably, any path you set yourself on, whether as an individual or as a company, is filled with treacherous obstacles. Most times, the obstacle isn’t even something external - it is simply you and your model of the world that stands in the way of doing what you want to do. You simply have no choice but to accept the ignominy of being a fool at every turn. Therefore, a vision becomes super useful - if it is an earnest and sincere one, the vision pulls you through obstacles and sets your course. It acts almost magnetically, orienting you and setting you back on track through the million challenges that you might find on your way. You might end up abandoning the initial ideas you might have had almost entirely, as we have done a few times along our journey - but if you continue to stay connected with the vision, it almost doesn’t matter. The very framework of our company has been overhauled a few times but here we are - with our first product almost good to go! And true to our vision, we have built a specimen of the very cutting-edge of modern internet technology that is oriented towards health and sustained well-being. Our MCU uses energy harvesting technology to power itself. It is a super-capable wireless semiconductor chip that can find application in pretty much any IoT-based application - precision farming, real-time health monitoring, wearables, smart clothing, well you name it! The problem we solved with this chip was a simple but pressing one - if we were to truly unleash the potential of IoT technology, we needed to deploy sensors in the millions - and if these many sensors were to be powered by batteries, that would represent a catastrophic ecological outcome. Our chip simply obliterates the need for a battery - it harnesses the energy needed for its operation from its surroundings - otherwise called RF, solar, kinetic, or thermal energy harvesting.
An MCU can be understood as a miniature computer with limited functionality - MCUs do exactly what computers do, albeit on a smaller scale and across a limited range of functions. What we’ve created are essentially tiny, miniature computers that also double up as miniature power-plants. Pretty neat huh?
OK, getting back to where we started - we’re pretty excited about all the incredible possibilities that can be brought to life with this wonder chip - it can help us monitor the health of soil and crops in real-time - precision farming. Improve the way we process and manage our waste, and improve healthcare outcomes - health monitoring and precision medicine. Well, the list goes on.
Granted, any technology is only as good as the problem it is being employed to solve - not all IoT applications are geared towards sustainability - or even anything meaningful for that matter - let’s face it - there’s a lot of frippery gimmick products out in the market in the market today bearing the IoT/connected brand. However they are being used, one simple fact simply can’t be denied - IoT technology is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal, and it can very well be used to solve our biggest and most pervasive problems if only we make a one-pointed commitment to move in that direction.
Sustainability - Not a Cause But Simply Common Sense
Let’s face it - we’ve all rolled our eyes when we see one big company after the other make a farce out of embracing one social cause or the other while continuing to profiteer from peddling products and services that are banal, destructive and shortsighted . Don’t get us wrong, we’re not against businesses taking initiatives to promote the development of the community at large - not at all!
We’re just trying to say that it is quite a narrow-minded vision of sustainability to dump tons of plastic into the oceans and then make a whole lot of noise about contributing such and such percent of profits to save coral reefs - this widely prevalent idea of corporate sustainability is tragic and dangerous.
Sustainability, as we touched upon briefly earlier, isn’t so about taking up a fanciful cause or going the extra mile. It is simply the organising of human efforts, whether individual or collective, in such a way that it promotes well-being and contributes in a positive way to the world at large. Far from being anything noble, it is just simple common sense! The pursuit of profit has wrongly come under a lot of scrutiny and even downright derision. However, it’s not so much the pursuit of profit as it is the refusal to see the bigger picture that’s been the problem - everything we do is intended to profit us in one way or the other - whether we operate as individuals, families, or companies, we always try and direct our actions towards ensuring positive outcomes for ourselves - simply put, that is the profit motive. A business pursuing profit is simply a business trying to stay alive - this is not the problem. The problem is when our pursuit of positive outcomes results in negative outcomes for the larger world we live in. As an individual in pursuit of positive outcomes for yourself, when you start interfering with the rights of others to seek their own well-being, there is a problem. Similarly, when a family makes decisions aimed at its welfare, it’s an example of the profit motive - again, very healthy - but, when these decisions go against the welfare of the world outside the family, it becomes a problem. Similarly, a company that sets out to make profits and grow bigger by solving a pertinent problem in an equitable way is not the problem - it’s when companies forget that they’re part of a larger ecosystem of interconnected entities. When we orient ourselves to the fact that our well-being simply can’t exist, in the long term, without a healthy and thriving world around us, the things we do usually fall into place rather nicely.
At ONiO, we are determined to do our part in creating ingenious solutions to some of the major global problems of our time. For us, sustainability is something that we embody from the ground-up - in the problems we have chosen to solve, the product that we have designed and the way we go about bringing the product to market. The sustainability credo of slogans and campaigns is not what we need in the world. We need real solutions to real problems that affect the people of the world in a real way.
We have the tools, the knowledge and with just a little bit of sense and intent, we can truly build a better world.