IBM and Semtech increase range of wireless sensors
IBM has worked with Semtech to develop a wireless sensor system capable of transmitting data up to a distance of 15km and it will be demonstrated at European Utility Week in Amsterdam October 15-17.
IBM has developed a software development kit, called Mote Runner, which provides an open platform to connect sensor and actuator motes.
This platform is now available on the Semtech SX1272 RFIC to create a system capable of covering a range of 15 km (nine miles) in a semi-rural environment and up to five km (three miles) in dense urban environments.
For comparison, the maximum distance today of a smart-meter transceiver in Europe, utilizing FSK modulation, is between 1 and 2km, said Semtech.
“The biggest request we hear from our clients is longer battery life, low cost, ease of use and longer distances. With IBM, we now have an answer to all of these questions,” said Hardy Schmidbauer, Wireless Products Director at Semtech.
The new sensors will use a star network architecture with each gateway capable of handling millions of transactions per day making it suitable for applications from smart metering to remotely monitoring train tracks.
The IBM and Semtech sensor platform utilizes Semtech’s new LoRa (long range) modulation technology to enable drastic range improvements over alternative modulation methods.
The additional range provided by LoRa, of up to 15 km, will eliminate the need for repeaters in these applications, significantly simplifying the system design and lowering the total cost of deployment.
The Semtech SX127x IC for the end nodes and the SX130x for the gateway are extremely low power making the system ideal for battery operated devices.
The adaptive link rate capabilities maximize battery lifetime, improve capacity of the network and improve scalability. The LoRa modulation also provides significant improvement interference robustness compared to traditional modulation techniques.
IBM Mote Runner software is based on a virtual machine tailored from scratch for resource-constrained hardware environments with tight power and resource budgets. The platform even allows applications to be loaded and updated over-the-air even after deployment, similar to the way mobile apps are updated on smartphones.
The development environment of IBM Mote Runner comprises a complete tool chain to develop applications in high-level object-oriented languages such as Java and C#, providing support for source-level debugging and network simulations to ease application development and testing.