Scenes From The Things Conference 2020

February 3, 2020 Alix Paultre

One of the more positive aspects of a growing disruptive development environment is the constant flood of new ideas and solutions being created. In the case of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud-enabled smart devices, one of those new solutions is the Things Network and the extended LoRaWAN community. Based on the old television band, LoRa (long-range wireless) technology is providing a functional, robust, and capable Cloud backbone for IoT devices.

This community recently came together in Amsterdam for the annual Things Conference, where member vendors, distributors, and partners showed their latest solutions. From space-based observation of endangered species to robust smart-home door sensors, the spectrum of solutions was both interesting and deep.

Things Network CEO
We met up with Wienke Giezeman, one of the founders of the group and its CEO. When asked about the significance of this rapidly-growing event, he was to the point. Wienke asserted, “Whenever I talk to a CIO they have three agenda points. First of all is security. We've covered that with the security of LoRaWAN, all the additional security features we have added. Second of all, they want to have manageable costs. Predictable cost is way more important than low cost. So we offer that with our propositions as well, because we scale with the business model of our customers.”

Wienke continued, “And the third one is no vendor lock-in. Every CIO has been screwed over by an IT company once in their life. Because you want to have this additional feature the quote you get, is humongous because the IT company knows you're not going anywhere. So that's what we offer, and that's why for instance our commercial product, at the core, is open source. All our API's are open, so there's no IP on the API. This is super important.” 

STMicro’s LoRaWAN SoC
One of the devices underscoring the open aspect of the LoRaWAN ecosystem is the release by STMicroelectronics of their STM32WLE5 SoC, which lets product developers create LoRaWAN-enabled smart devices. The SoC combines an ultra-low-power STM32 microcontroller design with a LoRa-compliant radio in one single-die and easy-to-use device. 

In this video Benjamin Guilloud describes the LoRa SoC at  their booth at The Things Conference. The first-of-its kind device enables smart devices to operate within the Internet of Things (IoT) using the LoRaWAN protocol. The SoC combines ST’s ultra-low-power STM32 microcontroller with a LoRa-compliant radio, on a single die.

Miromicro’s Smart-Home sensors
In this video Alex Raimondi, Director of Embedded at Miromicro describes some of their advanced integrated wireless sensor packages. In addition to the rugged sensing sollutions, Alex also goes over some of their other novel solutions as well as their latest LoRaWAN gateway. He also invites you to come to the LoRaWAN event they are sponsoring in Ecuador this May.

The company is also casting its eyes upwards. Recently, Lacuna Space and Miromico signed a collaboration agreement for the development and easy provision of ‘space ready’ and off-the-shelf communications devices using ultra low-power and low-cost satellite links.

Following successful tests conducted this year the first commercial trials with Miromico devices and selected enterprise clients of the Swiss company in agriculture, environmental monitoring or asset tracking are starting in 2020. 

Talkpool
Talkpool recently launched a new CO2, temperature, and humidity sensor as well as a new particle, temperature, and humidity sensor. The products are used in energy optimizations of heating/cooling systems in buildings and to ensure healthy indoor air quality in commercial buildings, schools and homes. Both sensors are now commercially available.

In this video Stefan Lindgren, CTO of Talkpool, addresses security in their devices and compatibility with the Things Network's Joint Server, enhancing solution compatibility. The #LoRaWAN -enabled devices address a variety of Industrial Internet of Things (#IIoT) applications, and can easily integrate with other Things Network-capable devices.

Libelium
In this video Ana Bernal from Libelium talks about the company's latest connected sensor solutions. These rugged devices are based on the #LoRaWAN industrial Internet of Things (#IIoT) protocol, and form a complete sensing solution. The company also recently LoRaWAN wireless connectivity for South Korea and Japan to their Waspmote and Plug&Sense! sensor devices.

Libelium’s goal is to become a system integrator, focusing on a strategic shift to offer complete IoT technology solutions specializing in vertical applications and tailoring IoT projects to specific applications. The company recently launched “The IoT Marketplace” as a meeting point for more than 150 “ready-to-use” solutions including hardware, software and cloud connectivity.

IRNAS’ fun EMI demonstrator
Sometimes a good demonstration is needed to really underscore the performance of your product. IRNAS, a provider of end-to-end IoT solutions for specialized use-cases, had a novel power sensor demo running at the show. The company’s offerings include LoraWAN IoT node development, drone mapping sensor network coverage, and edge computing off-grid devices for advanced sensor and image processing in limited-bandwidth scenarios.

In this video Vojislav Milivojević describes their novel exhibit showing the EMI resistance of their wireless devices. The Slovenia-based company's demonstrator used active Tesla coils to show how their wireless power-system sensors can operate and send data in a (very) harsh electronic environment.

A closing thought

We also managed to catch up with Alistair Fulton of Semtech, one of the seminal companies in the effort. When asked about the future, Alistair mused, “I think our main focus is on really simplifying the use of the product. We strongly believe that to make a technology like LoRa truly pervasive, it needs to be accessible to a much broader range of developers. And typically, those developers in the IOT are not hardware developers. They are cloud and mobile application developers.”

Looking forward
The dynamic growth and expanding footprint of the LoRaWAN-oriented Things Network, and their partner companies and organizations, represents the best of what the electronics industry is capable of. The exchange of ideas, the plethora of solutions, and the high level of passion and excitement underscore the vitality of this new sector of the industry.

 
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