Sharing economy meets home networks

THE ACTILITY BLOG

Sharing economy meets home networks

AUGUST 14, 2019 | written by OLIVIER HERSENT, CEO & CTO ACTILITY

The recent Amazon Sidewalk announcement has implications far beyond a new sexy feature on a smart speaker, it represents a fundamental paradigm evolution of home networks and a key enabler for smart-communities. Interestingly, it is likely to impact not just the richest economies: in fact the paradigm change is even more fundamental for countries with low per-capita income implying low budgets for any kind of smart-home/community initiative.

So… what is this ? Some of us will remember the initiative of FON, back in 2006, which attempted to turn the WiFi technology into a pervasive collaborative network. Martín Varsavsky thought that using the millions of home WiFi access points just for home networks was an incredible waste of resources. A perfect city network was at hand at virtually no incremental cost : just share ! Unfortunately WiFi collaborative networks didn’t take off to the anticipated scale : the WiFi technology wasn’t really designed for sharing, and the limited range, about 20 to 40m in urban areas, required mass adoption to cover full cities.

But recent LPWAN technologies, such as LoRaWAN, do not have these issues. They are designed for long range : experiments have shown that an average radius of 400 to 500m for an indoor picocell is realistic in big cities. They are designed for sharing : unlike traditional mesh networks or WiFi, all LoRaWAN antennas collaborate and form a seamless network. If 10 antennas are in range of a sensor, all 10 antennas will be used to decode each frame from the sensor, dramatically improving Quality of Service, and reducing Packet Error Rate. Even better, the collaboration technology is completely dynamic and will automatically “adopt” and leverage any new picocell, and even works across collaborative networks by leveraging a standardized peering protocol (LoRa Alliance Back-End interface 1.x).

The end result is that full coverage of a city may be obtained by deploying a surprisingly low number of picocells. Many companies can deploy such picocells at a ridiculously low incremental cost : internet providers (though new LPWAN add-on board to triple play modems) and smart speaker companies are the most obvious ones. Telcos and cable operators will probably not like to see big portals building a strategic over-the-top community network on top of their fixed broadband infrastructure without reaction, so you can expect smart speakers to shoot the new collaborative LPWAN feature first, followed by Telcos and cable operators.

In rich economies, you will soon be able to track your pets, connect alarm systems, get a better parcel delivery tracking system, so this is good news. For the emerging economies, this is a game changer.

Take the example of Ho-Chi-Min city, 2090km2.

With a traditional smart home model, say with a Zigbee transceiver in each home, costs are linear, so there are no economies of scale, and it is hard to provide the feature for less than about 5-10USD per home. Also the use cases remain scoped to home only, limiting revenue opportunities.

 

By contrast, assuming an easy macrocell LoRaWAN network on few high points already covers 1/3rd of the area, the rest of city coverage can be achieved with about 1000 picocells. Statistically, only the first 1000 homes need incremental investment. The marginal cost of the smart community goes asymptotically to… zero. And many use cases are now made possible : connected smoke detectors, bus, bike and scooter tracking, gas and water metering, gas bottle refill optimization… all things that are really useful for the city and community development.

Of course, this needs a mental switch to accept some randomness in the network operation and deployment, not knowing upfront exactly which numbers of picocells will be used, etc… but relying on randomness does not mean giving up QoS. LoRaWAN picocell networks have a very high degree of macrodiversity, i.e. many antennas receive the signal in parallel. If one disappears, there is no impact on service. In fact such redundancy means much more reliable networks, which is somewhat counter intuitive. These picocell networks also use relatively high datarates at very low power : this means short transmit times and ultra-low, unbeatable battery costs (50 to 100x below cellular networks). This opens the door for many use cases that require both low device and low connectivity costs.

I find it somewhat ironic that the aggressive search of economic optimum in our capitalist economies finally concludes that… sharing is our best option 🙂

More details and hindsight in this webinar recording.

Credits : Nicolas Jordan, Actility for the comparative TCO model, individual or LPWAn collaborative

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The Top Five Best-Selling LoRaWAN Sensors to Sharpen Your Industry’s ‘Senses’

featured image for best selling sensors

THE ACTILITY BLOG

The Top Five Best-Selling LoRaWAN Sensors to Sharpen Your Industry’s ‘Senses’

AUGUST 14, 2019 | written by ALAYKKA FOWLER

Integrating IoT (Internet of Things), especially through using sensors, in business operations has increased drastically over the past years.

best sensors lorawan actility

In fact, statistics say that by this year, there is an expectation that 92% of industrial organizations will implement some form of IoT in their business. Specifically, at present, 68% of business heads utilize IoT for maintenance and monitoring, while 54% use it for remote processes and operations.

Speaking of sensors, there are currently a lot out there that serve various needs in the industrial sense. From temperature monitoring to water leakage detection, they can help boost operational efficiency and enable informed decisions for the betterment of organizations. However, not all sensors are created equal. This is why we created a list of the top five best-selling LoRaWAN-connected sensors from the ThingPark Marketplace.

Read on to discover these connected devices and what makes them stand out.

Leaks and water damage are the last things that you probably want to deal with in your industrial infrastructure. Initially, little spots on different surfaces may be negligible but as time passes, this can cause damage, especially to equipment. Moreover, server rooms and data centers are of no exception when it comes to possible water damage. This is because they highly utilize water in their cooling systems and once a problem arises, it could cause flooding.

For these reasons, it is ultimately essential to utilize sensors that will alert you at the first sign of water leakage. And the Senlab DTM Outdoor Water Detection Sensor does this well.

Its water cable detection enables the discovery of water presence on the floor. Additionally, this smart wireless module runs on the LoRaWAN connectivity protocol and sends out a notification once it detects water leakages. What makes it truly competitive are its best-in-class features which include long battery life (20 years), rich data content (through datalogging), radio performances, and its advanced set of functionalities. Finally, it covers a wide area of up to 15km, perfect for even outdoor use, and is both local and public network compliant.

Imagine a time when you can easily find lost keys or track your lost pets. How about quickly knowing where your injured workers are in case of emergency? Well, let this escape from your thoughts because the Abeeway Micro Tracker can make this happen for you. Despite its miniscule size, this tracker has widely flexible functionalities both fit for either personal or business use. 

Running on not just one, but multiple modes of connectivity, the Abeeway Micro Tracker is perfect for both indoor and outdoor use, even in deep enclosure or extreme weather conditions. It combines LoRa, GPS, low power GPS, WiFi sniffing and BLE to ensure continuous connectivity at optimized energy usage for a multitude of use cases. Additionally, this ability to adjust connectivity modes according to use case strikes a balance between battery usage and device performance optimization. All these powerful features are combined with a highly durable casing, exhibiting an IP64 waterproof characteristic and the ability to withstand changing temperature and humidity levels.

Best of all, this connected device is light-weight and pocket-friendly giving you the peace of mind you need whatever and wherever your valuables, loved ones, or workers (in the case of industrial usage for emergencies) are. 

If there’s anything more important for a business or any other establishment aside from profits, it’s customer satisfaction. These days, there are countless ways to determine this, including surveys and reviews. However, the challenge that any organization faces when it comes to gathering feedback is motivating end-users to accomplish the forms or rating tools that they send out. Let’s face it – people’s patience is so short these days that they would not probably be willing to answer even just a three-item questionnaire. 

Smilio solves this by offering a solution that takes essential feedback in real-time at a simple push of a button. All target users have to do is choose from multiple buttons their rating of a particular service or the type of feedback they want to give for a certain kind of equipment or service. 

Businesses can obtain this information through wireless LoRa connectivity, which eliminates the need for WiFi or 3G. Data is then transmitted to a third-party application providing the management access to customer satisfaction levels or equipment/facility status. In addition to this, this waterproof (IP64) device has “Proof of Presence” technology, which is an integrated sensor for timestamping staff interventions. To top this off, the Smilio Action Multi-Services Connected Buttons is completely customizable (appearance-wise) and comes with treatments against bacteria, UV, and scratches. 

There is no denying that healthy crops are vital for a farm’s success. This is why it is highly essential for farmers and owners to have a 360-degree view and monitoring of their farms health. With properly timed and applied irrigation, farmers can keep crop distress at bay. In order to do this, thershould be adequate and efficient soil moisture and temperature monitoring for plantations. 

A great way to ensure sufficient soil monitoring is through using a connected device that communicates environmental data to the end user – and the Skysens SkyAGR1 is one of the best sensors that can do this. Powered by LoRaWAN connectivity, it is ideal for large-scale agricultural use as its battery lasts up to 10 years and can measure soil temperature of up to 90cm in depth which is where most plant roots are at. 

More than this, what’s really great about this soil moisture and temperature sensor is that farmers can either choose between a percentage or moisture level reading. Skysens recommends the latter because this tool has 5 levels of measurement, i.e. Dry+, Dry, Normal, Wet, and Wet+, whose output is a percentage display with 5%-10% accuracy. Use this waterproof device for both indoor and outdoor spaces, like agricultural fields, greenhouses, or home gardens. Most of all, it works in multiple regions across the world! 

In the business of perishable goods, especially those that are sensitive towards fluctuating temperatures, the great challenge lies in monitoring. It is tricky to properly maintain temperature levels, however, doing so preserves the optimal quality of goods, especially in transport. Improper temperature monitoring and maintenance can lead to good spoilage or damages which can then impact the profitability and efficiency of cold chain-engaged businesses. 

To avoid this, it is vital to have the right temperature sensor in place and the JRI LoRa SPY T2 Freezer Temperature Sensor is exactly that. This wireless LoRaWAN-connected sensor is part of JRI’s MySIRIUS monitoring solution that enables effective cold chain monitoring and maintenance through high precision data loggers.

This connected device sends gathered data to the JRI Cloud. In case of surpassing set thresholds, it notifies businesses in real-time through e-mail, SMS, or voice messages. Meanwhile, this handy device can be easily mounted outside cooling equipment such as climatic and thermostatic chambers and freezers. Once it is set up, end-users can then conveniently view information on the sensor’s large LCD screen. 

Making well-informed choices with the best LoRaWAN-connected sensors

Sensors can take your industry to a whole new level by equipping you with added vision to variables that can incredibly impact your operations.

In fact, these are important components when you want your organization to undergo optimal digital transformation. For this reason, it is only fitting to choose which sensors would be the best to use based on the nature of your field and your requirements.

Aside from this, the kind of connectivity the devices use plays a vital role in helping you achieve the functionalities that you need. In the case of large-scale organizations and industries, LoRaWAN is ideal. Its long-range, low-power nature enables sensors to gather information effectively minus the overly costly investment and regular maintenance.

Sharpen your organization’s senses by using quality sensors with the right connectivity. Through this, you can better make data-driven decisions and optimize your operations leading to lower costs and higher profitability. Indeed, the more informed you are, the more ideal actions you can make.

Get state-of-the-art connected devices on ThingPark Market.

Contact us today to find out the best solutions for your industry.

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What challenges will the energy sector face in 2019? Here’s our CEO Olivier Hersent’s vision

2019 Actility Energy greeting cards

The Actility Blog

What challenges will the energy sector face in 2019? Here’s our CEO Olivier Hersent’s vision

2019 Actility Energy greeting cards

2018 has been, for Actility and the world of energy, a pivotal year. It is now clear for everyone that the question is not whether our energy mix evolves towards 100% renewables, but how fast. The question is no longer whether automobiles will be 100% electric, but whether hydrogen will have a small share of it one day. Oil Majors publicly announce that their investments are shifted toward electricity, and banks state that they will no longer finance oil prospecting. The very notion of a “ceiling” for the share of renewables in the energy mix is a thing of the past.

In the context of such a positive paradigm shift of our economy, we can be proud of our contribution in Europe, pitch after pitch to the most doubtful interlocutors demonstrating that digital would allow to aggregate and control hidden flexibility of consumers, and over the long term solve the fundamental issues of balancing and securing our grid. Beyond theories, we have, project after project and with each regulation change, landed these ideas in the real world in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and now Italy.

…Until today, when “brick and mortar” players like Auchan or Orange clearly articulate that the future of their energy optimization will rely on real-time control of the load curve of their sites. They have chosen Actility, as well as many other partners – generator or thermostat manufacturers, energy maintenance companies – who think of Actility as their partner to evolve their energy management towards full digital.

In this context, our priority and main challenge is to focus our efforts towards industrialization and management of an increasing number of projects: our information system needs to become exhaustive, eliminating random files on hard disks, our supervision system must become pro-active and raise alarms before any issue actually impacts operations, our customer relations must increasingly rely on digital online tools.

We have made great progress through 2018, we need to be fully ready in 2019.

Happy new year to all.
Olivier

2019, quels challenges pour le secteur de l’énergie ? La vision du président Olivier Hersent

2018 aura été, pour Actility et pour le monde de l’énergie, une année pivot. Il est désormais clair pour tous les acteurs que la question n’est plus de savoir si nous évoluons vers un monde électrique 100% renouvelable, mais à quelle vitesse. Il n’est plus question de savoir si l’automobile de demain sera 100% électrique, mais seulement si l’hydrogène aura une petite part un jour. Les acteurs du pétrole annoncent publiquement réorienter tout leur développement vers l’électrique, et les banques qu’elles ne financent plus les prospections pétrolières. La notion du “plafond” supposé de la part du renouvelable dans le mix énergétique est maintenant un concept du passé.

Dans cette évolution très positive de notre environnement économique, nous pouvons je crois être fiers d’avoir joué un petit rôle en Europe en démontrant inlassablement aux interlocuteurs les plus dubitatifs que le numérique, en permettant d’exprimer et mettre à disposition les flexibilités latentes des consommateurs, pouvait résoudre le problème fondamental d’équilibrage et de sécurisation des réseaux sur le long terme. Au delà des démonstrations théoriques, nous avons aussi, projet après projet, évolution réglementaire après évolution réglementaire, fait atterrir dans la réalité ces idées en France, en Belgique, en Hollande et maintenant en Italie.

…Jusqu’à aujourd’hui, où il est clair pour des acteurs aussi “brick and mortar” que Auchan ou Orange que l’avenir de leur optimisation énergétique passe par le contrôle temps réel de la consommation de leurs installations. Ils ont choisi Actility, de même que de nombreux partenaires, fabricants de générateurs, de thermostats, gestionnaires d’installations, qui viennent désormais nous voir pour devenir leur partenaire dans cette évolution vers le pilotage digital des consommations.

Dans ce contexte, la priorité et le principal challenge, pour nous, est d’orienter nos efforts vers l’industrialisation et l’augmentation du nombre des projets: le système d’information doit viser à l’exhaustivité et l’élimination des fichiers qui traînent ça et là dans nos disques durs, la supervision de nos installations doit devenir pro-active et nous indiquer les pannes avant qu’elles n’aient un impact, notre relation client doit devenir elle aussi de plus en plus “digitale”.

Nous avons fait de grands progrès en 2018, nous devons être totalement prêts en 2019.

Très bonne année à tous.
Olivier

LoRa Alliance Members Meeting in Tokyo

LoRa Alliance Members Meeting in Tokyo by Alper Yegin

The Actility Blog

LoRa Alliance Members Meeting in Tokyo

LoRa Alliance Members Meeting in Tokyo by Alper Yegin

Here are a few highlights from our recent LoRa Alliance Members Meeting that was held in Tokyo…

Our 2-day Technical Committee meeting was packed with people (nearly 60!) and an overflowing agenda.

Basic building blocks of FUOTA (Firmware Update Over-The-Air) feature, namely multicast setup, fragmentation, and application-layer clock synchronization specifications, are now published. These specs can be freely downloaded from Resource Hub. Collection of these specs enable efficient, reliable, and secure distribution of large (kilobytes of) files to a group of end-devices over LoRaWAN networks.

Another noteworthy development was the initiation of DLMS and Wireless M-Bus application stack adaptation work. Much like what we did for Zigbee Cluster Library, profiling and compressing these popular app-stacks to be used over LoRaWAN brings the benefit of both the app and connectivity ecosystems together. The next app-stack we are eyeing is the OCPP (Open Charge Point Protocol) which connects EV (Electric Vehicle) chargers to the cloud.

One of the challenges of IoT is the device lifecycle management, with its most basic need: introducing a new device to the provisioning system by its identifiers and attributes. Performing that operation in a reliable, secure, and scalable way is more challenging than it appears. In order to streamline that process, the Technical Committee is embarking on defining a QR code format that any device manufacturer can safely use against any provisioning system.

Regional Parameters TG continued expanding its coverage by introducing new countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Also a change in leadership: Nicolas Sornin, who has been co-chairing the Technical Committee since its inception has stepped down, and is now replaced by Thorsten Kramp. The Technical Committee is grateful to the valuable contributions and leadership of Nicolas, and now welcomes Thorsten, another co-author of the original LoRaWAN specification, to his new role.

It was a pleasure delivering an introductory talk on LoRaWAN security, addressing how we use strong cryptography to protect LoRaWAN networks against unauthorized use, spoofing, alterations of in-flight frames, and snooping.

As always, we in Actility were very active across the board contributing to all aspects of the Alliance, including sponsoring the event and hosting a fun night playing bowling.

Our booth was packed with several demos, including ThingPark Enterprise, ThingPark Exchange, ThingPark Location, and Abeeway Trackers. We showcased public and private LoRaWAN networks, collaborating with each other through a peering hub, and enabling tracking apps.

It was a very productive meeting, thanks to our hosts and participants from Japan and the region. The next stop for a LoRa Alliance Members Meeting will be right across the Pacific, in San Diego, during the first week of February. I am looking forward to meeting our ever-expanding LoRaWAN family in sunny California.

by Alper YEGIN, Actility’s director of standards and advanced technology development and also vice chairman of the LoRa Alliance.

Business France and the IE-Club recognize Actility as French Tech leader

Business France and the IE-Club recognize Actility as French Tech leader

The Actility Blog

Business France and the IE-Club recognize Actility as French Tech leader

Business France and the IE-Club recognize Actility as French Tech leader

Business France and the IE-Club recently organized the 16th presentation of the Trophées de l’International du Numérique (International Digital Awards) – as part of the International Meeting of French Tech – on the 24th of October at the Business France HQ in Paris.

As part of this distinguished event, our COO and co-founder Nicolas Jordan was presented with the main award and gratefully accepted on behalf of Actility. The award recognizes Actility as a French tech company which is leading the way in connecting people and objects internationally.

Speaking about the win, Nicolas said: “This award is a recognition of the rapid expansion of our global customer footprint. We serve customers on all continents from Europe to Japan through Russia, India, China, South East Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas, which is a much larger spread than the majority of our competitors.”