Those sensors which are based on LoRa technology is known as a LoRa sensor. LoRa sensors have capabilities for geolocation, allows for low power consumption and long-range transmissions (typically more than 10 km). Hence, we can use these via timestamps from various gateways to triangulate positions of devices. LoRa sensors allow for long-range connectivity between devices to allow for an effective Internet of Things (IoT) implementation. This has applications across multiple industries.
How Does LoRa Sensor Send and Receive data
A LoRa network uses LoRaWAN protocol for sending and receiving data from LoRa sensors. LoRaWAN is a cloud-based media access control (MAC) layer protocol but acts mainly as a network layer protocol. We use LoRaWAN for managing communication between LoRa gateways and LoRa devices (nodes). It functions as a routing protocol and the LoRa Alliance maintains it. The first version of LoRaWAN was released in the year 2015.
LoRaWAN defines the system architecture and the communication protocol for the LoRa network. It allows for a secure and reliable long-range communication link. LoRaWAN also manages data rates, communication frequencies, and power optimization for all LoRa devices.
LoRa nodes in a LoRa network are based on asynchronous communication, and they start transmitting when they have data available to send. This enables a LoRa network to trade off sensitivity for data rate with a fixed channel bandwidth. It mainly involves selecting the amount of used spread (which is a selectable parameter between 7 and12). This spreading factor determines the sensitivity of a LoRa node and determines its data rate.
Data transmitted by a LoRa node is received by multiple LoRa gateways, which forward the received data packets to a centralized network server (IoT server). The IoT server filters out the duplicate packets, manages the network and performs security checks. The server then sends this data to the application modules, control panels, or connected smart devices. This way LoRaWAN protocol shows high reliability and accuracy for the moderate load.
Additionally, LoRa uses Forward Error Correction coding. This improves the LoRa network’s resilience against any kind of high interference. The high range of a LoRa network is characterized by very high wireless link budgets, which are around 155 dB to 170 dB.
How to make LoRa Sensors?
We typically integrate LoRa sensors into IoT networks. The sensors which we mostly use with LoRa technology are,
It is a basic temperature and humidity sensor.
- Ultrasonic Sensor
We use this sensor for checking if there is an object in front of it.
- Photosensitive sensor
We use this sensor for monitoring the ambient light.
- Flame sensor
It detects the presence of fire or a flame.
We use this for controlling the power of a device.
We use this for alarming or warning nearby individuals.
These are for showing the progress or status of any process.
A collection of these sensors when combined with a GPS module via a microcontroller (usually Arduino or Raspberry Pi), forms a LoRa Sensor.
How to use LoRa sensors?
For using a LoRa sensor, we have to set up an effective LoRa Network. A typical LoRa network includes the following,
1. LoRa Node
A LoRa sensor, when embedded with wireless connectivity and LoRa protocol, then it forms a LoRa Node. A LoRa node collects the required sensor data and sends it over to the LoRa Gateway.
2. LoRa Gateway (LG01)
A gateway is generally a device which we use for connecting various types of Network. LG01 is a LoRa Gateway which we use for bridging the LoRa wireless network and IP network. Its main features are,
a. It is the central point for forming a LoRa network.
b. Receives data from LoRa device (Node) in LoRa Network via LoRa wireless and sends it to IoT server in the IP network via
- 3G/4G etc.
c. Receives command from the IoT Server and sends it to LoRa device (Node).
An IoT server is basically a cloud server that allows connectivity between various devices. It receives and stores data from multiple devices and allows access across multiple platforms. In the case of a LoRa network, the IoT server receives data from the LoRa Gateway and then stores it accordingly. This data can is then accessible from any smart device (A computer, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet, whichever is convenient).
When we want to scale the performance of LoRa sensors up or down or if we want to increase or decrease the range of their measurements, then the IoT server also allows for that. In this case, we send the commands from the control panel (any smart device) to the IoT server. The IoT server sends the command to the LoRa gateway, which in turn sends it to the Lora Node (device). The command is interpreted at the LoRa node, and the LoRa sensors follow it accordingly.
So, this is how we set up LoRa sensors within a LoRa network. A LoRa network can accommodate as many LoRa sensors as required.
Why Use LoRa Sensors?
LoRa technology, compared to other disruptive technologies, is not a promise of the future but is available today throughout the world. There are 600 known cases of deployment of LoRa technology in citywide IoT implementations, and this number is growing steadily. According to an estimate, more than 105 million LoRa devices are deployed around the world. LoRa sensors combined with the LoRaWAN protocol are helping in creating a smart world. Analysts predict that by 2023, around 43% of all IoT implementations will incorporate LoRa technology. Hence, LoRa technology is realizing the potential for IoT applications.
- LoRa Technology Fills a Technological Gap
LoRa technology is revolutionizing IoT by using very little power and enabling data communication over a long-range. LoRaWAN fills the technology gap of Wi-Fi/BLE and cellular-based networks, which require either high power or high bandwidth and have the inability to penetrate shielded indoor environments or have a limited range. Hence, LoRa technology is efficient for usage in any indoor or rural settings.
- LoRa Technology Complements Other Technologies
LoRa technology operates in the unlicensed band like Wi-Fi and is very secure from end devices to the IoT server like Cellular. This makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. LoRaWAN protocol offers a flexible, economical, and efficient connectivity solution that is ideal for IoT applications, whether installed in private, public, or hybrid networks. LoRa sensor data can fuel analytics platforms that use machine learning and artificial intelligence. These technologies need data diversity, which is accommodated by LoRa sensors at a very low cost and power consumption.
- Global Network Availability
LoRa devices (nodes) operate on the LoRaWAN protocol, which is an open standard. It is backed by the LoRa Alliance, a nonprofit association that is promoting worldwide adoption of LoRa technology. The ecosystem of LoRa alliance has over 500 members, which include 100 public network operators with service offerings in more than 58 countries. LoRaWAN based networks are globally accessible and are available in more than 100 countries. Therefore, this existing and established infrastructure makes it more efficient and easier to immediately deploy LoRa based solutions.
- A Rapidly Growing Ecosystem
The ecosystem supporting LoRaWAN and LoRa includes a wide range of hardware manufacturers, service providers, network operators, software designers, universities, and industry associations. These play an integral role in creating devices, applications, and networks. The ecosystem is growing rapidly, and entities are adopting LoRa technology across multiple segments.
What are some prospective applications of LoRa Sensor ?
LoRa Sensors offer a wide range of possibilities that we can use for applications across multiple sectors. Some of the prospective applications of LoRa sensors are,
- Smart Agriculture
IoT is widely being used in agriculture from measuring environmental conditions that affect crop production to tracking the health indicators of livestock. This allows for the minimum strain on the environment, maximization of yield, and minimization of expenses. LoRa devices (nodes) and LoRaWAN protocol can significantly improve the effectiveness of such networks. Some case studies have shown that the use of LoRa sensors has reduced the water consumption of commercial farms up to 50%. LoRa sensors have long-range connectivity and consume low power. Hence, they are able to send data from agriculture farms to the Cloud Server. The data is processed and analyzed there for improving operations.
- Smart Cities
We can make municipal operations more efficient with the long-range and low power LoRa sensor. These sensors provide secure and GPS-free geolocation capacities. If city services such as parking, lighting, and waste removal are connected together, then cities can optimize the use of personnel and utilities for saving money and time.
- Smart Healthcare
The low cost and low power consumption of LoRa sensors make them suitable for healthcare applications, which are critical and require reliability. IoT solutions based on LoRa sensors and gateways can help in monitoring high-risk patients around the clock. Therefore, this will help in ensuring that the medical safety and health of critical patients is never overlooked.
- Smart Industrial Control
Operations in the industry can benefit from the LoRa sensors, which have continuous monitoring functions. Due to long-range and low power consumption of LoRa devices (nodes), we frequently use them in manufacturing industries and plants. They can also relay important data via LoRaWAN protocol to the concerned network. This can allow for analysis of data and subsequent optimization of business operations.
- Smart Utilities
Conventional utility operations use subjective measurement by field technicians, and hence, they are labor-intensive. On top of that, meters are often located indoors, underground, or dense urban environments. This makes it difficult for most wireless technologies to reach them. So, using LoRa sensors and LoRaWAN protocol will allow metering and utility companies to collect data remotely. Therefore, it will also help them in streamlining the operations by using their personnel more efficiently.
- Smart Supply Chain & Logistics
LoRa sensors make it affordable and easier for logistics and supply chain to track high valued assets that are in transit. The long-range and low power consumption of LoRa sensors makes it easier for GPS-free geolocation of vehicles and cargos. Hence, we can easily monitor any kind of assets within harsh environments and large geographic regions.
- Alzheimer Patient Tracking
LoRa technology wearable tracking devices can alert caregivers when an Alzheimer patient leaves a designated safe zone. This will help in ensuring round the clock safety in the absence of physical supervision.
- Smart Homes & Buildings
LoRa sensors can send data even from within buildings constructed from dense materials, and they consume low power. This makes LoRa sensors ideal for manufacturing smart home and building devices. Additionally, long-range capabilities of LoRa sensors and LoRaWAN protocol allow them to track assets that may stray away from home. LoRa sensors in smart home and building applications can optimize utility usage, detect danger, and improve the safety & convenience of daily life.
- Smart Refrigeration Solutions
LoRa technology can help in smart refrigeration solutions, which can help in tracking food temperatures for the food retail industry. Global developments in established supermarket chains can save a lot of money every year. LoRa sensors can also help restaurants in reducing food waste and optimize the operational costs of food management.
If you are working on an IoT based solution and want to use LoRa technology but are worried about the complexity of the process, then you can rely on MOKO Smart. We offer state of the art LoRa sensors, which you can use as per your needs. Additionally, we offer hardware designing, prototyping, product assembling, RF debugging, and LoRaWAN embedding services. So, you will get professional-grade LoRa modules for your IoT based solution. Feel free to contact us if you want to inquire about a quote or ask any questions.