LoRa platform simplifies design, reduces BOM

The development of the IoT (Internet of Things) brings with it design challenges that many companies are trying to solve by providing designers with relevant tools. Over the next decade, over 500 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, and a robust corporate strategy will be needed to provide devices with location capability and proper energy management.

IoT will impact all aspects of everyday life, covering a range of unimaginable applications: from wearable connected devices to a wide variety of asset management, monitoring applications, and sensors that can communicate with one or more gateways over distances of up to several kilometers.

These devices are usually intended for long-term services of up to eight years. It is therefore necessary to choose network connectivity that will be supported during this period. Typical IoT applications do not require continuous data transmissions –only in certain situations depending on the type of parameters to measure. And they do not require high bitrates. These characteristics are met by LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Networks) technologies, which demand low transmission power and provide excellent coverage and scalability.

Semtech Corp. has released the LoRa Edge platform, based on LoRa, to enable a wide range of applications and revolutionize the management of a variety of sensors. The platform integrates an ultra-low-power LoRa transceiver, GNSS, and Wi-Fi scanning technologies. The combination of Lora technology and cloud solutions with geolocation provides the right balance between location accuracy and low power consumption, optimizing system cost, and complexity. By eliminating the need for incremental GNSS and Wi-Fi components, LoRa Edge reduces BOM costs.

LoRa technology has significant technical credentials and is already in use in applications that require reliable communications capability over distances of several kilometers, such as wireless instrument reading and street lighting control systems. This sub-GHz technology supports data rates from 0.3 kbps to 50 kbps, depending on distance and message duration. The transmission distance can be up to 15-20 kilometers. Even in a high-density urban environment, communication distances of more than 2 kilometers are achievable.

“LoRa is long-range, you don’t need a lot of base station repeater, people can have public, private network solution based on LoRa that really is in use for tracking application,” said Olivier Beaujard, senior director LoRa Ecosystem at Semtech. “But most importantly, LoRa is extremely low power. And what does it mean? People can do very small tracker, very tiny tracker, and small battery.”

“LoRa is extremely low power, and this was proven with a lot of use cases in utility, water, and gas. In asset management, it makes a difference in many situations,” said Beaujard.

LoRa (Long Range) is a technology with a stack composed of two layers. The first layer of the LoRa stack is the physical layer (PHY) that uses a proprietary modulation derived from Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS), while the second layer is the protocol for the MAC (Media Access Control) layer called LoRaWAN.

A LoRa network includes gateways to connect to the central network server. End-points communicate with a star network topology via a single-hop wireless link to gateways with the ability to connect to multiple gateways to ensure connection redundancy (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: Lora Edge Geolocation Solution (Source: Semtech)

Figure 2: GNSS Scanning Principle, Assist Mode (Source: Semtech)

The first LoRa Edge chipset targeted with geolocation is LR1110 by Semtech. It captures a portion of satellite broadcast signal. The signals are aggregated to NAV message and sent to the cloud server. GNSS scanner supports GPS L1 + GPS geostationary, SBAS: EGNOS + WAAS, BeiDou B1 + BeiDou geostationary GEO/IGSO (figure 3).

Figure 3: LR1110’s block diagram (Source: Semtech)

LoRa Edge is an all-in-one chipset for indoor/outdoor applications. It allows customers to further manage the total cost of ownership (TCO), paying only when an asset needs to be identified. Improved key provisioning at the point of production and a secure join process further simplify the development of IoT solutions and fully meet customer security expectations. LoRa Edge and LoRa Cloud geolocation services offer unique system architecture to reduce power consumption, Semtech concluded.

>> This article was originally published on our sister site, EE Times Europe.


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