Low Power Wireless: Technology of Today and Tomorrow

    Technologies, in this era, are creating boom in the World. Energy efficient technologies are on a rapid growth as people nowadays are very particular about the latest trends and technologies. Same goes to one of the major new technologies that is, the Low Power Wireless Technology that is a wireless telecommunication low power network (LPN) which is specially designed to allow long range communications at a low bit rate among connected objects as sensors operated on a battery.

    The low power, bit rate and intended use distinguish this type of network from a wireless WAN that is designed to connect users or businesses, and is enable to carry more data using more power. A Low Power Wide Area Network is also capable to create a private wireless sensor network, and can also be a service or infrastructure offered by a third party, allowing the owners of sensors to deploy them in the field without investing in the gateway technology.

    Recent evolution has focused to be a large extent on the Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity where sensors gather and communicate signals and data. End product examples are varied, ranging from smartphones, health and fitness wearable, and home automation, to smart meters and industrial control. All have design constraints that include ultra-low power consumption, low cost, and small physical size.

    There are many low-power wireless options, the fundamentals of each technology and also, the key operating attributes, such as frequency band(s), network topology support, throughput, range, and coexistence. 

    Compact of Low Power Wireless Technology 

    Engineers now have many choices when it comes to low-power wireless technologies, including RF-based technologies such as Bluetooth low energy, ANT, ZigBee, RF4CE, NFC, Nike+, and Wi-Fi, plus infrared options championed by the Infrared Data Association (IrDA).

    But this wide choice makes the selection process more difficult. Each technology makes trade-offs between power consumption, bandwidth, and range. Some are based on open standards while others remain proprietary. To complicate things even further, new wireless interfaces and protocols continue to emerge to address the needs of the IoT. One of these is Bluetooth low energy.

    Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) have developed in multiple ways. On one hand we have the low power, unlicensed communication technologies, some of which are highly proprietary and focused on a particular application, versus large telecoms companies who have added low power versions as extensions of their cellular network. There are many types available with different governments and territories pushing different types.

    Then there is the consideration of the ‘smoke and mirror’ marketing of all these choices, with inconsistent and often inflated numbers of connections loosely used. This is due to each of the proponents being aware that they need to be seen as the protocol of choice before potential adopters sniff loss of confidence and momentum, leading to an inevitable shake-out of some of these options. Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) consists of NB-IOT, LTE-M, LoRaWan, Sigfox, Weightless, etc.

    On asking about the advances and future trends in the Low Power Wireless Technology, Ali Hosseini, CEO of Senrasaid – “ I believe that LoraWan and IIOT would be the two running tech. to be adopted in the next five years for the LPWAN market. Communication Technology which sends information to the long distances is going to come at homes. There would be a huge transparency in the LPWAN advancements in future.”

    Usage of Low Power Wireless Technology and Networks

    Smart Buildings and Homes – Intelligent building networks are moving past the early adopter stage into the early majority, with government regulation driving the need for connected utilities and intelligent lighting and environmental management being used to make homes and offices more energy efficient, wireless networks play a key role in the connected building.

    Smart Cities – Governments around the world are investing heavily in adding connected infrastructure to their environments, primarily in street lighting and environmental monitoring solutions among other applications.

    Asset Tracking – Low power networks are providing a new business model in the form of subscriptions for tracking of things.

    Agriculture – Technology is increasingly entering the agricultural space with new ways to monitor crops, water usage, environmental conditions and other aspects designed to ensure produce uniformity and good yields on farms and vineyards. The long range and low power requirements of LPWAN networks make them suitable for some applications.

    Challenges faced in Low Power Wireless Security

    With IoT, connectivity will continue to evolve to address the needs of various new use cases. With rapidly developing technologies such as LPWAN, the question for enhanced security is naturally raised.

    The more mobile devices that are connected and new requirements are needed, the more technologies become available. One such relative newcomer is LPWAN (low-power wide area network), a technology that complements the existing ones and also enables completely new applications. LPWAN IoT will capture a significant part of the IoT market with low cost devices and low cost infrastructure. There is no doubt that these low-power networks will play an important role in the future because of several advantages. They build, for instance, on the idea of connecting low-cost sensors over long distances in harsh environments or deep indoor penetration for smart meters.

    Two major approaches have been developed:Licensed bands: enhancements of existing 2G /3G / 4G networks. This approach is mainly supported by the operators (MNOs).Unlicensed bands: here you find new specifications, such as LoRa, Sigfox, Weightlight and Ingenu. It is mainly used for private and local networks.

    One of the most important requirements in connecting billions of “things” is security. This meaning a high security risk if nothing is done with these new upcoming IoT infrastructures, because of the high attack surface of multi-billion endpoints. A LPWAN IoT endpoint identity is similar as an identity of a person. All security related transactions require a robust identity management solution as foundation.

    As nationwide IoT networks are deployed, confidential data supporting critical functions requires secure communication. G+D Mobile Security provides security technologies that can be leveraged for life-cycle management of the keys and its usage. Millions of devices are already connected, and it is expected that by 2020 we will have roughly 849 million connections using LPWAN.

    Commenting on the challenges faced in the Low Power Wireless Technology development, Ali Hosseini, CEO of Senra said – “The biggest challenge for the LPWAN is the infrastructure as well as the connectivity. If we talk about India, there is a lack of network provider, while travelling, tracking multiple locations is also a big challenge for LPWAN.”

    Latest Low Power Wireless Technologies – Mobility Wireless Technology is designed for networks of all sizes, including small and medium-sized businesses and distributed enterprises. It provides industry-leading wireless LAN technology without the need for a physical controller or additional licenses.

    Connected Mobile Technology enables users to find the right solution for their businesses. CMX leverages open architecture principles, intent-driven work flows, and contextual relevance at the core to deliver solutions that extend the network.

    Different Applications used in Low Power Wireless Technology 

    Automation -Wireless automation – Control, convenience, and comfort: There are many routine, manually-intensive tasks in industry and within the home that would benefit from the accuracy and reliability of wireless automation.

    The concept of smart homes is an ever-increasing reality with domestic appliances and temperature, alarm conditions etc. remotely controlled. The latest mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) also provide new possibilities for controlling and monitoring domestic appliances and applications.

    The latest solutions bring state-of-the-art wireless performance, reliability, and flexibility to industrial, building, and home automation at a mass-market pricing point.

    Some products of this segment include Remote controls, Lighting, HVAC, Access Security, RFID, etc.

    Consumer electronics – Wireless makes it easy to find, manage and control content on connected devices: Consumers have never had so much choice in terms of digital content and services, or such a challenging time accessing it. The Ultra-low power (ULP) wireless technology already installed in millions of wireless PC peripherals worldwide is the solution. In products such as connected (Internet-enabled) TVs, for example, it supports RF remote controls with advanced navigation features such as touchpads, touchscreens, and QWERTY keyboards, without suffering interference from bright light sources (e.g. LED TVs) that affect IR.

    Healthcare – Now, wireless Improving the quality of care, lives and treatments: Ageing populations and modern lifestyle challenges (such as the trend towards increasing levels of obesity and the challenge of managing related illnesses such as diabetes) are placing record levels of financial stress on public and private healthcare providers across the globe. But now, ultra-low power (ULP) wireless enables healthcare providers to employ their limited resources more effectively, while improving care quality and treatment outcomes.

    Wireless products of this segment include Diabetes Control, Activity Monitors, Weightscale, etc.

    Commenting on the latest applications of Low Power Wireless Technology, Ali Hosseini, CEO of Senra said – “Low power wireless technology covers a lot of different wireless communication solutions. Technologies like LoRaWAN, SIGFOX, IOT and several others. From the market prospective, LoRaWAN is doing much better. Government Initiative in India is to develop smart cities, so, mainly LPWAN applications are used in Electricity, Water and Gas Metering, Smart street lights, smart waste management and smart parking. The readings of the water and gas in the smart metering, trash cans to detect level of waste, and parking based applications work in LPWAN.”

    Benefits of the Low Power Wireless Technology

    Increased efficiency: Improved data communications lead to faster transfer of information within businesses and between partners and customers. For example, sales people can remotely check stock levels and prices whilst on sales calls.

    Access and availability: Because low power wireless technology allows the user to communicate while on the move, one is rarely out of touch – one doesn’t needs extra cables or adaptors to access office networks.

    Flexibility: Office-based low power wireless workers can network without sitting at dedicated computers, and can continue to do productive work while away from the office. This can lead to new styles of working, such as home working or direct access to corporate data while on customer sites.

    Cost savings: Low Power Wireless networks can be easier and cheaper to install, especially in listed buildings or where the landlord will not permit the installation of cables.

    New opportunities: Low Power Wireless networking could allow you to offer new products or services. For example, many airport departure lounges, train stations, hotels, cafes and restaurants have installed ‘hot spot’ WiFi services to allow mobile users to connect their equipment to their ‘home’ offices while travelling.

    On asking about moving from Industrial Control System to Wireless System, Ali Hosseini, CEO of Senrasaid – “Decision making at local areas is needed to move to Wireless Technology, and also, it depends on the specific requirements. If you have power and direct internet lines, depending upon how much wirelessly the information is to be communicated, it could be moved from Industrial Control System to Wireless System.”

    ELE Times Bureau
    ELE Times Bureau
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