Whether it is measuring the amount of solar energy, how jammed a trash can is or locating the location of a rhino: Internet of Things (IoT) can be used for several purposes. Bart Hiddink, executive director of Ideetron BV explains what is needed in order to make use of all possible purposes in an efficient way. “You can create your very own LoraWAN-network in your attic or hobby-room.”
Why are sensors so vital for Internet of Things?
“The sensor is the component that carries out the actual measurement. A sensor can, among other things, gather information about the temperature, the humidity, the presence of gasses or the location of the object the sensor has been attached to. A lot of applications are imaginable for companies. Every sensor contains a node which is a piece of radio technology capable of communicating with the network and thus capable of conveying the data. In some constructions a node that simply transmits a signal at a certain interval would already do the trick, for example in the case of tracking animals.”
What else is necessary to make use of the possibilities of IoT in the most optimal way?
“It goes without saying that a decent Internet connection is needed. On top of that, one would need a backend in which several layers of software and servers work together to display the information in such a way that it becomes available for the user. The network that gets used most often, which is also available nationwide, is GPRS or 4G. However, certain disadvantages are connected to the use of this particular network, as it is quite expensive and uses a lot of energy, which means one would need relatively big batteries. Sigfox and LoraWAN are about 30 times as energy efficient as the GPRS or 4G network. This also means that one is able to send a lot less data in one go, although most sensors do not use more than a couple of bytes anyways.”
How do you use Sigfox and LoraWAN?
“Sigfox has recently become accessible nationwide as well, but the downside to using this network ties into one of the major disadvantages of the GPRS or 4G network: it happens to be quite expensive as well. Furthermore, in order to properly work with it one has to use specific chips. All in all, this means that a lot of effort and resources are needed in order to start using it. KPN is currently offering LoraWAN too, but even that option still remains pricey. Another possibility is to create your very own LoraWAN network, for which only a gateway is needed and such gateways usually do not cost more than a couple of hundred Euros. The gateway consists out of a RF concentrator – a central receiver of all of the information coming from the nodes – and a processor module to communicate with the Internet.”
Is having your own network actually safe?
“There is no such thing as fully-guaranteed safety, however, all the data that gets send via LoraWAN gets protected in multiple ways, with a network key and an application key. Contemporary computers would take hundreds of years to crack these codes. If anything, you can even encode the data.”
How are you able to help out and assist companies?
“We advise organizations about the implementation of IoT applications and supply them with all the products required for starting and creating a LoraWAN network. For example, at this very moment we are busy with a Rhinotracker for Tanzania, but we have also built sensors for trash cans so they would only have to be emptied when they were completely filled to the brim. Our expertise is specific wireless communication, so we everything we develop is custom-made and created to fit, and hopefully, fulfill the client’s wishes and expectations.”