Internet of things (IoT)

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Gateway

Internet of things (IoT)

Introduction

Connecting devices is not a new concept.  Currently business entities are making use of telemetry, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s) and SCADA systems.

It was only very recently with the development of ultra-narrowband data communication that the average man on the street can make also use of IoT due to simplicity and operational cost.  There are successful devices using WiFi and Bluetooth with limited applications due to the short distance communication ability.  Long range wireless communication was necessary to enable internet of things (IoT) to become popular and accessible to different applications and networks.

What is IoT?

The Internet of things (IoT) describes the ability to connect physical objects (things) with each other and have the information available via the internet and portal to your front-end of choice, i.e. computer screen or smart phone.  This is achieved by the following thinking process:

Decide how you want to visualise the information.

What Service do we provide?

Omicron IoT is a Managed Service Provider (MSP) focussing in providing the best possible solution for your problem.  We do not sell specific brand name devices (hardware) other than functionality and communicating with the same protocol.  We will negotiate a service’s agreement over a mutual acceptable period, and take responsibility for the hardware and batteries, communication, software and make sure the end-user get sensible information to manage the business.

Although we believe that you cannot manage what you cannot measure, we also will not encourage the monitoring of an asset where the data has no value to the business.  We firmly trust the network must make a difference in the business return on investment (ROI), or at least prevent failure or theft.

The Communication Protocol

Although there are a few communication protocols to choose from, experience has convinced us that LoRa® and thus LoRaWAN® is the most appropriate for monitoring and control.  LoRa (short for Long Range) is a low power modulation technique that can make it possible to send very small packets of data over a long distance.  LoRaWAN is the communications protocol and architecture that utilises the LoRa physical layer.

Typical Architecture

The four layers of a LoRaWAN network:

Layer 1: The various sensors; end devices, each a self-contained unit with built-in antennae and battery.

Layer 2: Your own gateway.  The gateway is the only device connected to the internet either via ethernet or SIM card.  It also needs to be powered by 12Vdc or 220VAC.

Layer 3: The network server on the internet, dealing with receiving and directing data and ensure security of communication from the gateway

Layer 4: The application servers are responsible for received application uplink payloads (data) and the downlink application payload queue (the instructions).  The application servers can send information in graph format to multiple screens or notifications to smart phones.

The big advantage in LoRa technology is the fact that different sensors can now communicate wireless over large distances without being too concerned about battery life.  The radio communication between the sensors and the gateway is free of charge with no licencing fees, no communication interruption and water-tight security.

Qualities of LoRaWAN

The following qualities of LoRaWAN describe the ability and limitations of a network:

Sensors

In the past two years an explosion of different types of sensors came onto the market. LoRaWAN communication is strictly controlled by the LoRa Alliance but open to all users and suppliers of open-source software with the result that the correct sensor from any source will connect to the frequency in your country. The following is an example of typical sensors that is available ex stock.

Application

The application of IoT through LoRa is best suitable where you have a specific site, such as a farm, a city, or utility network (water, electricity, sewer) where you can deploy your own gateway. If you must cover a very large area, you might consider more than one gateway (but still the same network) or consider giving you gateway height on a tower or on top of a building. The following are typical verticals where this technology will do very well:

Since rolling out the network and the ease to add or delete sensors (scalability), no project is regarded as too small or too ambitious.  It should also be clear that the protocol is not suitable for long haul couriers unless a mobile gateway is deployed on every vehicle.

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