All of LAIIER’s devices use LoRaWAN to communicate wirelessly to the internet and send messages and status updates.
It is a relatively new technology, only created in 2015, and is now maintained by the non-profit LoRa Alliance. There are two main reasons why we use LoRaWAN: It has an incredibly long range, up to 15km, and is super energy efficient; our sensors only require a single battery for power and can run up to several years on a single charge.
What is LoRaWAN
LoRaWAN is built on LoRa, which is a modulation technique. LoRa, short for “Long Range”, encodes information using chirp spread spectrum (CSS) technology, a common sonar and radar technology.
LoRaWAN in turn is a protocol that uses the LoRa modulation technique. Still a relatively new technology, LoRaWAN can be seen as a cellular network, with LAIIER’s devices acting like cellphones: LoRaWAN defines how devices use the LoRa technique, for example when they transmit a message and the format of a message, just like a cellular network defines how the cellphones connect to the network and the format of messages they can receive and transmit. A cellular network requires cell towers in order to connect devices to the network and for LoRaWAN these cell towers are gateways. A gateway is the receiver of a message from a LoRa device, for example, LAIIER’s Severn Board, and passes the message on to the internet, where the user can view it from their preferred application.
Benefits of LoRaWAN
Compared to other wireless technologies, such as WiFi or cellular, LoRaWAN has a much longer range and is much more energy-efficient. It can’t transmit as much data and information as the other two, but if you only need to send a message that tells you the status of the infrastructure, you don’t need that much power. This means LoRaWAN-enabled devices can run for years on a single battery.
For example, our LoRaWAN-enabled water leak detector, Severn, only uses a single AA cell battery as a power source and can run up to 3 years with it. It sends a message once a day to report on the status of its sensor and for the rest of the day, it essentially sleeps. Once it detects a leak on its sensor, the Severn Board sends continuous messages until the leak is fixed. The power efficiency of our LoRaWAN leak detectors contributes to the scalability of these devices to effectively cover smart building infrastructures with low maintenance. Also, as LoRaWAN communication can seamlessly interface with network servers, e.g. The Things Network, data from many devices can be simplified into a single dashboard for easy inspection.
LoRaWAN is the key to enabling IoT applications and we are excited to be part of this growing technology trend. We are developing more and more printed sensors, each equipped with LoRa and using LoRaWAN, to transform more surfaces that can connect to the cloud.
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