Monitoring Cows and Sheep Using Beacons

There’s new research on A Low-Cost IoT-Based System to Monitor the Location of a Whole Herd with testbeds in Andalusia, Spain.

The authors have devised a hybrid system to reduce the cost compared to fitting every animal with a GPS LPWAN (Sigfox) tracker. While some GPS LPWAN (Sigfox) trackers are used, Bluetooth beacon collars are also used to lower the overall cost.

digitanimal tags

We believe an increasing number of tracking and sensing systems will use hybrid technologies.

Read about SensorLoRa

Convergence of Wireless IoT Connectivity

There’s a new insightful article at IHS Markit on Convergence of Wireless IoT Connectivity where it’s said that it’s unlikely that wireless IoT connectivity will be dominated by a one protocol or standard. While that might seem obvious, what’s less obvious is that, increasingly, multiple protocols are being used for IoT solutions.

The article observes:

“Almost all major chipset vendors such as Qualcomm, Cypress, Texas Instruments and Redpine Signals are offering wireless ICs with multi-protocol wireless connectivity allowing interoperability between wireless protocol and standards”

and

“It is most likely that these connectivity standards will increasingly work together to complement each other meeting the demands of IoT.”

Our SensorLoRa™ is one such solution, that combines the best of Bluetooth and LoRa.

LoRa™ and LoRaWAN® in the UK

After our post on SensorLoRa™, a few people asked us specifically about LoRa™ and LoRaWAN® in the United Kingdom. First we should point out that SensorLoRa™ uses LoRa™ and not LoRaWAN®. LoRa™ is the patented digital wireless data communication technology protocol while LoRaWAN® is a higher level communication protocol that runs on top of LoRa™ that provides extra features.

Both LoRa™ and LoRaWAN® use the 868Mhz radio frequency that is license exempt in the UK. This doesn’t mean you can use this frequency as you like. There is set a set of rules defined by EU ETSI EN300.220 (pdf) the most pertinent of which is the duty cycle that defines for how long a transmitter can transmit.

LoRaWAN® imposes extra rules and a more onerous usage policy on top of than that required by the EU rules and also requires the use of a LoRaWAN® server. In the UK, LoRaWAN® is usually synonymous with The Things Network although you can, for a fee, run your own LoRaWAN® Things Network.

For SensorLoRa™ we don’t need the extra facilities provided by LoRaWAN®. We just need point to point communication. Our customers also usually don’t like shared servers. Hence, we only use LoRa™ rather than LoRaWAN® thus providing a private, separate, minimal network with no fees that’s only constrained by duty cycle for LoRa™. This doesn’t preclude us using LoRaWAN® for custom solutions, it’s that in most cases it isn’t needed.

Read more about SensorLoRa™

LoRa Sensing With Bluetooth

Bluetooth® and LoRa™ are often said to be competing wireless technologies when, in fact, they work very well together. Both work with small quantities of data and both are optimised for powering via batteries. Bluetooth is good for collecting data up to 100m away while LoRa is good for relaying that data up to 15km or more depending on geographic topology.

LoRa has traditionally been used for outside tracking, alarms systems, smart signs and utility metering. Using sensor beacons with LoRa enables sensing of things such as location, movement, temperature, humidity, air pressure, light, magnetism (hall effect), proximity (short range and human), fall detection, smoke, gas and water leak. This brings new opportunities for use of LoRa in retail, industry, life sciences, health, hospitality, visitor spaces, transportation and education.

SensorLoRa™ is our new solution component that allows sensor beacon data to be sent over LoRa. We have developed a SensorLoRa™ detector that sees sensor beacons and sends sensor data, via LoRa, to a SensorLoRa™ gateway. The gateway sends sensor data on to your server via HTTP(S). Alternatively, it can be sent to BeaconServer™ for storage or to BeaconRTLS™ for showing location and sensor information on plans or maps.

We have a new fact sheet that explains more about SensorLoRa™:

Learn more at the SensorLoRa™ web site