Going Mobile in the Oil Industry

Almost all known-brand smartphones are not built to the standards required for use offshore. One Norwegian company is changing that.
Impact X

Pixavi is a Stavanger-based high tech company where most of the 12 employees work in research and development. We reached out for them in order to understand what they do and how they cope with being dependent on the oil industry.

Pixavi develops and manufactures smartphones, wifi cameras and wifi access points. What all their products have in common is a clearance for "zone 1" areas. This means they can be used in locations with inflammable gas or vapour present up to 10% of the time. In order to be cleared for this zone, products must be designed in a way they don’t cause sparks during operation (electronics) or when dropped.

Additionally they are expected to be robust, for the customers are primarily industrial or in the oil or gas industry.

Almost all known-brand smartphones are not built to this standard.

More than a phone

The developers found out that one of the main uses of their Impact X smartphone is the transfer of data. People do not only use them as phones, but also as devices that can easily share the pictures or videos. As they are based on Google's Android, further use is easy. Almost 100% of production and a full 100% of development is based here in Norway.

Further research at Pixavi is being done in 'apps for the industry' and integrated operations, explains Osman Amith, Sales Director at Pixavi.

"There are many apps targeting the private user, but few that address the industry," says Amith. "Function first, user last dominates industrial tools and that is something that will change. Integrated operations supported by technology require less transportation, since the existing human resources can be guided to perform tasks that normally would require an expert to fly in."

Recombining existing technology and knowledge is something Amith also considers as an approach to ensure Norway’s future. He sees a big potential in redesigning whole processes in the industry: "The industry needs to be secure and is more reluctant to test things."

This slow adaptation could be sped up if user-friendliness is the focus. A user not worrying about getting his equipment to work certainly has a clearer view onto everything around.

An important development for Norway

As for Norway’s future, combining the country's knowledge in subsea construction with relevant software has got to be a good thing.

With coworking rising in Trondheim we get to talk about the boundary conditions of innovation. He is a co-founder at Stavanger's Mess & Order, a co-working space that now has around 60 members. When asked what could further promote innovation, he responded that the environment and surroundings are a big topic. "The place, entrepreneurs and local support from government, universities or other organisations as well as lawyers and finally, albeit not at the early stage, investors."

Inventions such as this are what Norway can do best, combining our excellent experience in the energy industry with modern technology and entrepreneurship to create new value going forward.

This would be good news for Norway and also here in Trondheim, Norway's technology capital, having SINTEF and NTNU as well as lots of tech-minded students as resources.


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