Wireless technology is at the heart of the Internet of Things. It’s allowing oil and gas companies to create real-time awareness of drilling performance. It assists engineers in maintaining the integrity of bridges, and can form part of slope monitoring systems in mines and quarries.
All of these applications are changing the way we live and produce. But if your company is thinking about adopting a sensor network based around the Internet of Things, what is the best technology to choose?
This blog will look at three major technologies, which power IoT systems across the world: NarrowBand, SigFox, and Lo.Ra. So, let’s look at all three in more detail.
1. NarrowBand IoT
Previously, IoT devices have been set back by the lack of a dedicated network infrastructure to meet their needs. Developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), Narrowband offers a networking solution for wireless devices in specialist Internet of Things setups.
Classed as a low power wide area networking (LPWA) standard, NarrowBand caters for devices that have low data transmission demands and low power demands, but require constant connectivity. This could include power meters, or even body implants to monitor fitness levels.
Narrowband caters for widely dispersed networks, and holds out the potential to radically cut the cost of setting up sensor arrays and other data processing systems.
Finally, NarrowBand offers a security upgrade on previous LPWA solutions. Being based on a licensed mobile frequency, it can integrate authentication and data integrity systems which might ward off cyber-attacks and other system breaches.
It is ideal for low data, low energy applications where sensors must remain in situ for long periods. But it’s not such a good fit for systems with constant information demands.
Sigfox is probably the most successful commmercial application of NarrowBand technology. Founded in France in 2009, the company offers off the shelf wireless networking solutions, which minimise the need for computing power, and delivers the kind of benefits we noted earlier.
For instance, it features a specially developed lightweight network protocol, which has been adapted for the needs of the IoT. The protocol can manage small messages with ease, while requiring minimal amounts of data transmission.
It also uses NarrowBand in the 200 kHz frequency range, sending 100 Hz wide messages that are able to travel for long distances without becoming corrupted. So, these messages are carried by standard mobile phone networks, and the signals can penetrate thick walls, or even underground if required.
Moreover, there’s no need for the base stations and routers that have been required in legacy networks. Instead, everything can be dealt with in the Cloud or via a standard mobile phone frequency.
These properties make it a valuable tool for all kinds of applications, from monitoring the structural integrity of office blocks, to arrays of temperature sensors in power stations.
Lo.ra (or Long Range) has become the foundation of LPWA networks across the world. Designed specifically to cater for wireless communications needs, it delivers incredibly long range connectivity (as much as 100km) and handles very low power throughputs – ideal for the Internet of Things.
With this technology, users can assemble dispersed networks of devices and connect all of them to the Cloud. By reducing energy needs to an absolute minimum, LoRa also suits battery operated sensors, allowing them to function effectively over long periods of time.
Devices connected to LoRa can be tracked via GPS, come with AES encryption to enhance security, and enable extremely complex operations via high capacity base stations. However, unlike SigFox, LoRa does require base stations and servers, so there may be higher overheads and technical limitations.
Let Next Industries advise on the right Internet of Things solution
All of these technologies can be used in assembling sensor arrays and data transmission systems. And the applications are infinite. Whether you work in the energy sector, water treatment, or civil engineering, the Internet of Things could be transformative.
In conclusion, Next Industries have the expertise to help you create the ideal configuration. Get in touch or download our free technical guides, hence we can help you realise the potential of this exciting technology.