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Posts Tagged ‘lpwan’

8Power Vibration Energy Harvesting Technology Powers Batteryless LPWAN GPS Trackers, MEMS Sensors

May 23rd, 2017 No comments

While IoT products usually promises one to 10 years battery life, they will be several billions of them, and ARM’s CEO even forecast one trillion IoT devices in the next 20 years. Recharging batteries at home may be fine, but imagine having to recharge or replace batteries on top of electric poles, inside walls, in remote locations, and other hard to reach places, considerable resources would have to be deployed just to replace or recharge battery every year or whenever the battery is close to being depleted.  That’s why work on energy harvesting technology for batteryless devices may be so important, and 8Power is one of the companies working in the field through their vibration energy harvesting technology that is said to harvest up to 10x the power of competing devices under comparable condition thanks to the use of parametric resonance phenomenon.

8Power LTE NB-IoT GPS Tracker (Left) and MEMS Sensor (Right)

The company has recently announced their Track 100 family of LPWAN GPS tracker, such as Track 100XL relying on LTE NB-IoT, but they also have models supporting LTE Cat M1 and LoRaWAN. The IP67 devices include vibration energy harvesting technology, as well as optionally a solar panel. The company also provides a “secure cloud hosted data platform to provide dashboards, analytics, device management, security and application API access to manage fleets of devices”. There’s no battery, and no need for (battery related) maintenance. Track 100 trackers are powered through the vibration generated by trucks, trains, or other vehicles.

The company is also working on integrating the technology into MEMS sensors that consume very little power (10 mW) in continuous operations. Beside leveraging vibrations from the transportation industry, and 8Power technology can also generate power from vibrations from  infrastructure (bridges, embankments, transmission lines) or machinery (high-power motors and rotating equipment), and the technology has already been validated through a experiment to monitor the structure of an older bridge in Scotland.

The company showcased their technology and latest products at IDTechEx 2017.

Via ARMDevices.net

The Future of Cellular IoT Explained – LTE M1, LTE NB-IoT, eSIM, and Battery Life Hype

May 17th, 2017 4 comments

Telecom companies also want their share of the IoT business, but with 2G to 4G cellular technology often being too power hungry and/or expensive for this market, 2G on-going – or upcoming – sunset depending on your location, LTE Cat M1 and LTE Cat NB1 (aka NB-IoT) standards have been developed, and used in products like Pycom FiPy board, and SARA-R4 and SARA-M2 modules. If you want to have an overview learn about the new LTE IoT standards and the future of cellular IoT, Particle has published a useful presentation – embedded below – dealing with both, as well as eSIM (Embedded SIM), 2G sunset, and battery life expectations.

The main takeaways from my reading of the presentation:

  • LTE NB1 is better suited for low power stationary sensors transmitting a small amount of data a few times a day. Requires new hardware and software
  • LTE M1 can be used for actuators and sensors that needs frequent updates. Requires software update to existing base stations.
  • eSIM are becoming more and more common, and a “blank eSIM” can be activated anywhere in the world by a local mobile network operator. The many LTE bands across operators and countries however complicates things.
  • Consider LTE modules with 3G fallback in markets where LTE is just starting
  • The proclaimed 10 to 15 year battery life is mostly hype with a very large battery and one daily update, with real use cases likely to last 12 to 18 months on a battery charge.

If you are interested in the subject, you may want to read through Particle’s 39-page presentation.

Categories: Hardware Tags: cellular, IoT, lpwan, lte, particle, sensor

u-blox SARA-S200 RPMA Module Supports the Machine Network

May 16th, 2017 3 comments

RPMA is one of the many LPWAN IoT communication standards, but it does not get as much press coverage as SigFox or LoRa because it targets larger scale deployments, and is not really accessible to individuals. It’s still used by companies in many countries, and u-blox has just released SARA-S200 RPMA module that will also work with the Machine Network, also relying on RPMA and managed by Ingenu.

u-blox SARA-S200 module specifications:

  • Connectivity
    • Wireless Frequency –  2.4 GHz ISM
    • Radio Spectrum – 80 MHz
    • Occupied Bandwidth – 1 MHz
    • Modulation – Dynamic – Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (D-DSSS)
    • Multiple Access Scheme – Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA)
    • Transmit Power – +22 dBm
    • Receive Sensitivity – -133 dBm
    • Data Throughput – 100 kB per day
    • Link budget – 176 dB (FCC/IC)
  • Host Interface – 7-wire SPI that includes handshaking for deep sleep modes
  • Power Supply – 3.2 V to 3.4 V (typ. 3.3 V); VCC BAT: 2.2V to 5.5 V
  • Power Consumption – Off: 0.1 μA (typ.); deep sleep mode: 19 μA (typ.); idle mode: 22 mA (typ.); RX: 107 mA (typ.); TX: 370 mA (typ.)
  • Dimensions – 26.0x 16.0 x 2.4 mm
  • Weight – 3 grams
  • Package – 96-pin LGA (Land Grid Array)
  • Operating temperature range – -40 to +85 °C
  • Certifications – FCC, ISED (formerly known as IC), RED (formerly known as R&TTE), and additional countries as deployed (pending)

The module is an update to the first RPMA module (NANO-S100), with cost and size optimization (65% smaller) that makes it suitable for application in the Smart Meter, Smart Building, Gas & Oil, Asset/Personnel Tracking and Agricultural industries. The module supports FOTA (FW updated over the air) with the ability to also update the application firmware. A development kit for SARA-S200 is also available, but I could not find any public information about it.

Pricing and availability have not been disclosed. For more information, you may visit u-blox SARA-S200 product page, or go to nternet of Things World at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA (May 16‑18 2017), where u‑blox and Ingenu will showcase the SARA‑S200 module.

Categories: Hardware Tags: devkit, IoT, lpwan, m2m, rpma, ublox

Whitecat ESP32 N1 Board Combines ESP32 WiFi + Bluetooth SoC with a LoRa Transceiver, Runs Lua RTOS

May 2nd, 2017 4 comments

Espressif ESP32 SoC is gaining traction right now as prices have come down, and there’s still an on-going fight among LPWAN standards with LoRaWAN being fairly popular in Europe. Whitecat, a group of engineers from several companies based in Citilab, Barcelona, Spain, has designed a board that combines both ESP32 and a LoRA transceiver, bringing an alternative to Pycom LoPy board, but instead of running MicroPython, they have developed Lua-RTOS.

Whitecat ESP32 N1 hardware specifications:

  • SoC – Espressif ESP32 dual-core Tensilica LX6 microprocessor @ up to 240MHz with 520kB internal SRAM
  • Storage – 4MB flash memory
  • Connectivity
    • LoRa WAN transceiver working in the 868 (EU) MHz / 915 (USA) MHz with on-board antenna, and u.FL connector for external antenna
    • Integrated 802.11b/g/n WiFi transceiver with on-board antenna, and u.FL connector for external antenna
    • Integrated dual-mode Bluetooth (classic and BLE)
  • I/O Headers – 2x 16-pin with SPI, I2C, I2S, SDIO, UART, CAN, ETHERNET, IR, PWM, DAC, ADC.
  • Power Supply
    • 3.3 to 5.5V operating range through input voltage regulator
    • Second voltage regulator for power on / power off sensors through a dedicated GPIO
  • Dimensions – 78 x 26 mm

By default, the board runs Lua RTOS real-time operating system designed to run on embedded systems, and currently supporting ESP32, ESP8266 and PIC32MZ platforms. The OS has a  3-layer design:

  1. Top layer – Lua 5.3.4 interpreter with special modules to access the hardware (PIO, ADC, I2C, RTC, etc …), and middleware services provided by Lua RTOS (Lua Threads, LoRa WAN, MQTT, …).
  2. Middle layer – Real-Time micro-kernel powered by FreeRTOS.
  3. Bottom layer – Hardware abstraction layer, which talk directly with the platform hardware.

Lua RTOS boards can be programmed with Lua programming language directly, or using a block-based programming language that translates blocks to Lua.

ESP8622 and PIC32 targets have some limitations so features like SSL are not implemented, but ESP32 supports all features listed below:

  • Lua Thread, Pthread API
  • SSL
  • On-board editor, Shell
  • FAT and SPIFFS file systems
  • WiFi, Ethernet
  • LoRaWAN class A & B node, LoRa WAN gateway
  • ADC, SPI, UART, PIO, PWN, I2C, CAN,
  • Sensor, Servo

Bluetooth is missing from the list. You’ll find Lua RTOS source code and instructions to get started on Github. The Wiki is also also a good place to get started with ESP32 N1 Board and Lua-RTOS.

Board pricing is currently a little on the high side, as ESP32 N1 board is sold for 30 Euros without Lora, and 40 Euros with LoRa. Worldwide shipping adds 5 Euros to the total. You’ll find more details, including the purchase links, on Whitecat ESP32 N1 page.

Arduino MKRFOX1200 Board Combines Microchip SAM D21 MCU with Sigfox Module in MKRZero Form Factor

April 19th, 2017 3 comments

Arduino MKRFOX1200 is the first official Arduino board to feature LPWAN technology thanks to a Microchip ATA8520 Sigfox module combined with a Microchip SAMD21 ARM Cortex M0+ micro-controller, all that in the same form factor as MKRZero or MKR1000 boards.

Click to Enlarge

Arduino MKRFOX1200 specifications:

  • MCU – Microchip SAMD21 ARM Cortex-M0+  MCU @ 48 MHz with 256KB flash, 32KB SRAM
  • Connectivity – Microchip AT8520 Sigfox module operating @ 868 MHz with 2dB “GSM” antenna connected to u.FL connector
  • 2x 14-pin headers for I/Os:
    • 8x digital I/O
    • 8x external interrupts (0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, A1 -or 16-, A2 – or 17)
    • 7x analog inputs (8/10/12-bit ADC)
    • 1x analog out (10-bit DAC)
    • 12x PWM pins ((0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, A3 – or 18 -, A4 -or 19)
    • 1x UART, 1x SPI, 1x I2C
    • 3.3V operating voltage
    • DC Current per I/O Pin 7 mA
  • USB – 1x full speed micro USB device and embedded host
  • Misc – Reset button, LED
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via USB or VIN pin
    • 2x AA or AAA batteries good for up to 6 months (connected via green screw terminals)
  • Dimensions – 67.64 x 25 mm
  • Weight – 32 grams

Since the Sigfox module is limited to 868 MHz, the board can only be used in Europe, Africa, and Middle East. You’ll get 2-year free subscription to Sigfox network with the board (for up to 140 messages per day), as well as free access to Spot’it geolocation service that allows you to track the board without GPS or any extra hardware. How well that works will depend on the coverage in your area, and I could not find no accuracy information allowing us to compare it to GPS. Just like other Arduino board, MKRFOX1200 is fully open source hardware, and can be programmed with the Arduino IDE. You’ll find the full documentation in the Getting Started Guide.

Official Arduino boards are usually fairly expensive compared to the competition, but I find Arduino MKRFOX1200 to be pretty good value at 35 Euros (Select European website) considering you also get 2-year of Sigfox network access, and geolocation tracking.

STMicro Introduces STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board & I-NUCLEO-LWAN2 STM32 LoRa Expansion Board

February 21st, 2017 4 comments

STMicroelectronics and Mouser have launched two new products with LoRa connectivity: STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board with an STM32L072 ARM Cortex M0+ MCU and Semtech SX1276 transceiver, and I-NUCLEO-LRWAN1 STM32 LoRa expansion board for STM32 Nucleo boards with an STM32L052 MCU and Semtech SX1272 radio transceiver.

STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board

Click to Enlarge

SigFox Launches Spot’it Low Cost GPS-Free IoT Geolocation Service

February 17th, 2017 2 comments

Asset tracking was traditionally done using a combination of cellular and GPS technology, and LPWAN standards like LoRa & Sigfox promised to lower the cost of communication and hardware while still relying on GPS technology, but Sigfox has just announced Spot’it geolocation service, which will get rid of GPS all together, and instead use radio signal strength analysis and deep learning techniques in order to provide location information both outdoors and indoors.

Key benefits listed by the company include:

  • Lowest-cost IoT location service – Spot’it does not require any additional hardware or software upgrades, and the device does not have to transmit more messages, meaning there is no impact on the solution operating cost for customers.
  • Low energy – Spot’it does not rely on energy intensive GPS technology, nor require additional processing or any more energy than what Sigfox-enabled devices already consume.
  • Enabled through a planetary network – Spot’it is embedded in Sigfox’s global network footprint and represents the first global IoT geolocation offer. This allows the simplification of global supply chain management: once a device is registered into the Sigfox Cloud, the geolocation service is available in all territories where the network is present.
  • Unlike traditional GPS-tracking, Sigfox Spot’it works both indoors and outdoors.

For this to work, you’ll need to be covered by Sigfox’s network in one of the 31 countries currently covered, so coverage is not exactly “global” yet. The service does not need any new hardware, and you can use existing Sigfox modules, which you can get for as low as $2 (in quantities), and track them at low cost. Sigfox has not provided that much details on how they are doing it, but they still explained Spot’it was the first big data based Sigfox server, which relies on their Cloud service analyzing signal strength to determine the location.

So there are still unanswered questions, such as accuracy of the system, and how much the company charges for the geolocation service on top of the network access fee.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: cloud, gps, IoT, lpwan, sigfox

Bttn is a Sigfox Connected IoT Button Going for $2 a month

January 7th, 2017 3 comments

The Button Corporation, a company specializing in… buttons as you may have guess, has introduced a new version of their bttn connected button with Sigfox connectivity in the US. It works a little like Amazon Dash, but mostly targets businesses, offers more features, and works anywhere with a Sigfox network.

sigfox-buttonbttn & bttn mini specifications:

  • Button functions – Short press, long press and “not pressed”
  • LED feedback – Green (positive), red (negative) and yellow (wait)
  • Connectivity – Mobile data (2G GPRS), SIGFOX (868 MHz ETSI / 915MHz for US), or Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n)
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for charging
  • Power Supply
    • bttn mini – Rechargeable Li-Po battery
    • bttn – 4 x AA alkaline batteries
  • Dimensions – bttn mini: 69mm Ø x 40 mm; bttn: 100 mm Ø x 73 mm
  • Weight – bttn mini: 90 grams; bttn: 190 grams
bttn devices send data to bt.tn cloud server, or for WiFi bttns to a local server, and support HTTP(S), REST API, IFTTT, Zapier, email, SMS, social media, and more. my.bt.tn website allow for remote management,group configuration, and status monitoring, automatic alerts, usage statistics and analytics for your bttns. Companies can also ask the company to customize the bttns with their own logos.
Creating actions at my.bt.tn

Creating actions at my.bt.tn

Some use cases include pressing the button to re-order a product, for example a bttn provided by your heating oil supplier may allow you to press it to get a refill, or bttn could also be used to rate the service at government offices: short press service was good, long press service may need improvement, etc… The system will also monitor the battery level, and send an email once it’s below 15% so that the battery can be replaced or recharged. The battery lasts for about 2000 presses.

The company is now taking pre-order with the service launching in March for $1.99 per month in the US. The press release does not mention it, but bttn is also available in Europe for 1.99 Euros per month right now based on the specs, and information on bttn Sigfox page and the online shop, with more countries and regions to be supported as Sigfox coverage expands around the world. The initial costs is actually 69.00 Euros including a 2-year free subscription to the service.

Categories: Hardware Tags: ces 2017, IoT, lpwan, sigfox