BitBox News

Using Low Power Radio to enable the 'Internet of Things'

For devices that need to transmit data across large distances, such as sensors monitoring performance or reporting faults, it is often assumed that WiFi connectivity is needed. Where devices are in remote locations it is often desirable to have battery powered sensors - often with a requirement to last years. WiFi is generally not the answer for the sensors. WiFi has limited transmission distance and will prove a significant power drain on a battery.

The prevailing solution is to use sub-gigahertz Low Power Radio (LPR) devices which enable low-cost, long range connectivity for relatively small amounts of data - ideal for sensors. A central gateway provides the connectivity to the internet or Cloud by WiFi, Ethernet or 3G/4G. This is often referred to as a Wide Area Network (WAN). Applications using this structure are ideal for implementing the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine 2 Machine (M2M), Smart City or Industrial purposes.

There is much in the press and Hollywood of how connected devices may be hacked or used to spy on us. Data and network security is a 'must have' for any IoT or M2M application.

BIG Wide area Networks

There are a number of competing low power radio implementations to create a nationwide WAN. Two main drivers are the LoRA alliance and SigFox, each trying to become established as the de-facto standard internationally. It is possible that one of these will become dominant in offering a national service similar to mobile phone carriers.

Mesh Networks

To expand a WAN it is possible to use Low Power Radio to create a Mesh network where nodes receive and re-transmit data. In this way a transmitter can send data to a receiver by passing through a network of nodes in situations where the receiver is too far away from the transmitter.

What are the applications for Low Power Radio?

LPR devices can be used for a number of applications, which are increasing every day as the opportunities for IoT and M2M develops. Some examples of LPR applications include:

  • Monitoring of lighting in communal accommodation or street lighting to report faults.
  • Control of lighting to manage costs without compromising safety.
  • Monitoring and controlling heating systems.
  • Monitoring air temperature and humidity
  • Monitoring of water for leak detection
  • Monitoring of pressure to check fire extinguishing systems
  • Monitoring of stock or items stored at specific temperatures.

The list is truly endless. I have included the examples above because BitBox has worked directly with customers to satisfy these requirements.

How BitBox can help

At BitBox we are aware that many customers do not require a BIG WAN service and the consequent service charges and want a Local WAN (is that an oxymoron?) to provide connectivity to their own servers, We have experience in providing local WAN solutions.

We can also provide a LoRA or SigFox solution if required.

We also have experience in providing low power sensors with Low Power Radio using off-the-shelf AA batteries or lithium thionyl chloride batteries for extreme lifetimes.

Want to know more?

Got a great idea? Call us on 01256 799080 or email sales@bitbox.co.uk to request your FREE one hour consultation or to find out more.