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LPWAN offers two-way communications for data collection, remote control
Vincent Mao, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES [Wednesday 20 September 2017]

From the control of household electric appliances at home to the monitoring of satellites in the outer space, grasping more data and expanding management depth and width are the exact benefits scientific and network technologies have brought to the mankind.

In the development of Internet of Things (IoT) applications, various LPWAN (low power wide area network) communications technologies are capable of two-way communications. But due to the limitation of transmission frequency bandwidth, and in order to prevent remote control from occupying the bandwidth, most LPWAN applications are confined to one-way data collection. But Taiwan industrial PC maker and industrial IoT specialist Arbor Technology can utilize edge computing and LoRa two-way communication capability to meet remote smart monitoring needs.

Chen Jung-chang, Arbor's chief technology officer, said the emerging of LPWAN wireless communication technologies enable long-range data transmissions in smart cities. Particularly, Chen continued, LoRa systems are very suitable for multiple outdoor IoT applications, as they have a transmission range of up to 10 kilometers and require terminal sensors to transmit data packets only at regular intervals, involving very low power consumption with batteries able to last for years before replacement.

Although Taiwan is a densely-populated island with a high coverage rate for network signals, there are still many IoT application scenarios where various wireless signals and equipment maintenance personnel can hardly reach. LPWAN solutions can be applied to such scenarios and other harsher environments such as desert areas and offshore oil rigs, according to Chen.

Arbor's LoRa solutions ideal for special application situations

ARBOR has developed a set of LoRa transmission solutions dedicated to special application situations. Lin Yang-cheng, a senior manager at the firm's automation department, said the whole transmission architecture includes sensor nodes and gateways, with a mobile cloud app also developed to facilitate remote control by users. Lin added that terminal sensor nodes are built with ambient light sensors and can send temperature and humidity data packets to LoRa gateways at regular intervals, with a single gateway able to collect data transmitted by all the sensor nodes within the transmission range. Users can simultaneously manage numerous gateways, as they can monitor and conduct remote equipment control t after the data are sent to the cloud through the gateways.

Most of LoRa solutions focus on data collection, as two-way communications could affect the transmission quality due to limited transmission volume. Against this, Arbor's LoRa solution can allow every terminal node to execute the on-and-off switch function by building relays in terminal devices.

Citing a concrete application case, Lin said street lights are one of the indispensable devices that consume relatively higher energy, and therefore if street lights are built with multiple sensing technologies, not only various data of local areas can be collected through street lights, but energy consumption by street lights can also be reduced through remote smart sensing settings.

Lin continued that users can send commands to terminal devices through gateways to switch on or off the devices. In addition, the "edge computing" concept can also be applied to control the switch, in that configuration logics can be built in terminal devices to automatically switch on or off relays if the set conditions are met. For instance, when sensors find ambient light in a dark state, street lights will be automatically turned on.

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