Here's How IoT Could Gain From Long Range Tech

by CXOtoday News Desk    Aug 08, 2016

Iris scanning

With the development of the IoT space in India, the scope of growth is more imminent in the times to come. However, one of the principle challenges in the development of the IoT space relies on the fact that devices in the space need to communicate with each other over long distances and need a limited supply of power to do so. That is the requirement that LoRa (Long Range Communication) seems to fulfill. While the world discusses the future of communication in terms of the upcoming 5G technology to be used in most devices, LoRa comes as a welcome solution in terms of distance, and a particular set of functions which may need lesser power and bandwidth. 

While LoRa seems to have garnered attention of a lot of people in the technology ecosystem, there is one catch that needs pointing out; unlike 5G which sends huge pockets of data at high-speeds, LoRa is capable of only sending small packets of data, which is why it is being slotted for a certain range of basic tasks only. Mark Cruse, the CEO of Definium Technologies, seemed optimistic, saying “It turns out you don’t need that huge an infrastructure, and it can be driven by small devices that are very smart and not very expensive.” 

The space of IoT is set to grow; this statement can be ascertained from the fact that Pricewaterhouse Coopers, published a report mentioning that between 2015 and 2020, the spending on IoT ready devices could reach USD 6 trillion the world over. This could include everyday devices, to industrial grade machinery and equipment which would be communicating with each other, for their functionality. 

Reality has a strange way to strike at anything optimistic; in this case, it is the cost involved in creating the infrastructure needed for IoT to start functioning. Most of the functions need an internet connection and cellular connectivity as basic connection points, which are still expensive to build in countries like India, and even other nations like Tanzania.

Richard Gardner, who has 2,500-hectare farm in Tanzania and uses cellular-based soil moisture measurement system mentioned, “There’s a lot of technology out there that works now, it’s just very expensive. We’ve got something now that we think has better attributes and is cheaper.”  He is among a long list of other farmers who are willing to be customers of Definium Technologies products, reported TOI.

The better picture

Like everything else, not all is bleak in the world of IoT and narrowband technology developments. IBM and Cisco have been developing USD 1 radios which can send and receive data. 

There is also a network being developed by Dutch enthusiasts, called the Things Network. This is a global community of open-source LoRa gateways which have nodes with the ability to send and receive messages, each shorter than an SMS, either every few minutes, or every few hours. 

Weinke Giezeman has founded a USD 300 gateway, which is a router for connecting LoRa nodes to the internet, is going to be available from next month. According to him, an average city would need 6 of these to be functional, but then these estimates are not according to Indian but European cities. What remains to be seen is the scope and the number required, if at all such a gateway comes to India. 

Definium Technologies has been developing several IoT based products, which are meant for location with narrowband connection. These include salt level measurements for shrimp farmers in Bangladesh, an LED street lamp which mining companies could control remotely and also a bio-sensor which could send alerts about oyster health. 

Going forward, the functions of IoT would be far more diverse. Though a large number of functions would be transferred to the broadband, or 5G networks, the scope for growth would still remain in narrowband and LoRa networks, which would aid cities, business, and people get connected to each other, machines included.

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