Bluetooth , IoT, LoRaWan, SigFox, Wifi, Z-wave, ZigBee … Is the Internet Of Things a fashionable phenomenon or are we at the eve of a true revolution like internet was at the beginning ?

This summer we had the opportunity to develop our first mobile application app connected to a device through the LoRaWan Network, here is our feedback.

An exponential rate

If we trust the last Gartner study, we could achieve, 1.6 billion of connected “things” in 2016, 5.5 million of new “things” should be connected each day. The growth forecasts show an exponential rate of “Things” on the network which involve huge data to store and transmit. Data sets become so large or complex that traditional data processing obviously doesn’t not work anymore, BigData approach is therefore required.

In which areas?

Health care, automotive, wearables, smart cities, smart building, manufacturing… in fact essentially in all of them !

The purpose of a connected “Thing” is to transmit information to a server at regular intervals, through a wide wan. The server then collect and manage that information and do some actions or show useful indicators. The main goal for the company is to reduce their costs, their optimize business processes or just to improve customers’ services.

Concretely

This 18 October, Orange had organized an after work event dedicated to IoT. The example was a connected motorway area, entirely fitted with connected captors. The purpose was to deliver relevant information to one and unique dashboard in real-time concerning consumables stock, the filling level of the collection bins, the number of free parking space, the inner temperature, outside temperature but also the quality of the customer service through a simple device based on three smileys push buttons. The main goal for a such equipment was to offer the best customer service.

The networks

Connected “things” are able to communicate with many network protocols : 2G, 3G, 4G, Wifi, SigFox, Blutooth, LoRa,….

SigFox and LoRa are low power and wide networks which required connected gateways linked to the network server, itself searchable by the application server.

Connected “Things” have the ability to be remote configured or to be self-configured by themselves (depending the quality signal for example).

Why this technology will meet with success ?

The network coverage is still increasing, Orange has announced that the main towns in France will be covered in 2017 with LoRa Network but we can also, in a private action, add our own Wireless LAN antennas to cover an industrial site for example.  Furthermore, the hardware cost is decreasing. For example the public cost of a single connected button is about 30 $, we can be confident that the more you buy the cheaper is is.

For our project, we have used the loriot.io platform which provide long-range infrastructure for IoT in many countries (https://loriot.io). From the point of view of security, Loriot provide a data hash process and an authentication token  mechanism to control the legacy of the transactions and to hide the data content carried on the network (of course if the developer has the mind to apply those rules !).

And finally, actual technology offers low consummation devices, you don’t need to recharge devices each day !

How to succeed in your IoT project?

Do not ever start your project from the technical side, at the end there is always a technical solution for each case but instead be focus to the final purpose of your development.

Think “Use case” !

What kind of information do I need, for what needs, who are the project players, what are the expected profit, identify the humans resources involved, estimate the information volume to be processed and finally estimate the return on investment.

Our development: the feed-back !

This summer, one of our customers contacted us in order to design and develop a remote opening system for buildings (citizens or companies). The objective for us was to realize a mobile app which embed a virtual intercom and a button to remotely control the door release (this was more complex but I won’t detail it on this document).

Analysis

Before we start to code, we first spend some time with the customer in order to know his expectations. Who are the customers, the business model, the end users, the use case, the functional rules (may a user open different doors, possibility to transmit virtual key to other people, how to secure the process), cases of malfunctioning to manage (device unreachable, network loose, degraded network,  ..).

The design office

One the specification has been validated by the customer, we met Carbon Bee, a design office specialized in IoT electronic integration and captors (member of IOTEAM association) to check the global technical architecture. Carbon Bee also asked the customer concerning his project expectations in terms of network coverage, cost, connectivity, … Is the mission a simple “Proof Of Concept” at a small scale or should there be a rapid development for a business market? The components choice will be made according to the cost, assembly times, technical requirements (portability, protocols, operating life, …).

Loriot.io

Meanwhile the hardware availability, our app development team has worked on the Loriot technical specification (https://loriot.io). Loriot provide the long-range infrastructure for Internet of Things. You just have to open an account (free or not) and declare your gateways and devices. Each device has a unique ID and are monitored in real time (online status, frames, …). On this platform, you can also access to many documentations (API specification, webservices, security recommendation, …). Four our project, we have developed 3 webservices, based on Node.js :

“Keep-alive”: send a message to be sure that it is still alive

  • “Configuration “: set the opening door time and date/time of the next “Keep-alive”
  • “Open door” : send the opening door command and receive the acknowledge

The day the hardware was functional and declared on Loriot.io, we just needed to make some adjustments but overall it’s was working!

Since that day, we have improved the mobile app, specially to get it more « user-friendly » and in agreement with the graphic identity. The last update in progress is related to the facetime functionality.

Conclusion

Open a door with your smartphone

Working on an IoT project is exciting because you have to think about the use case, the hardware and the software and when it works, it’s rewarding…

On the other hand, that kind of project require a consistent analysis step, essentially for the hardware because once the material is functional you don’t have the flexibility to modify it, counter to a program which can easily be adapt.

But once the analysis was correctly led and the hardware met the initial requirements, the software development wasn’t problematic, thanks to the Loriot plateform which was reliable and easy to use.

 

Loriot provide real time frame display, very useful to ensure that the dialogue between the facilities is ok.

To conclude, connected “Things” bring smart functionality to buildings, cities, human life, that’s why we can see so much articles about  SmartCity, SmartHome, SmartBuilding,

In view of the mature technologies and the decreasing hardware, there can be no doubt that the IoT market will enhance in the next months and in all sectors.

Patrick Montier – Digital expert – http://www.idnext.net – patrick@idnext.net