Coderus Attends The Things Network Conference in Norwich

LoRa Gateways, Nodes, Internet of Things, Raspberry Pi’s; this conference had everything!

Coderus attended and demoed at the two-day The Things Network Conference, the first of its kind in the UK. The conference showcased all the exciting tech opportunities that this emerging technology will bring. Coderus had already gained some experience in this technology, after teaming up with another Innovation Martlesham company to set up a Things Network gateway. This gateway has enabled businesses to log into the LoRaWAN network. In the long term, The Things Network over LoRaWAN will enable the connectivity that smart cities promise.

The Coderus team was there to attend inspirational talks, educational workshops, network with other tech companies but also to show a series of demos that highlight some of the new usages of LoRa, such as mobile integration.

The Technology

The new era revolves around connectivity and all the promising features that LoRaWAN will bring. To begin with, LoRa makes use of low frequency radio waves  requiring low power usage, allowing a range of up to 10km. This low power usage allows devices to run for two to ten years on average on batteries alone. LoRa implementation costs are also low, the hardware itself is inexpensive and LoRaWAN makes use of unlicensed frequency bands to keep costs down by not requiring the purchase of expensive licenses.

What makes LoRaWAN even more special is the connectivity that is offered among businesses. With Digital Catapult’s decision to merge their own infrastructure, Things Connected with The Things Network, the number of gateways on the network will expand significantly with any gateway providing access to the platform. Helping to increase momentum and encourage development of network integrations, such as Coderus’ own mobile demo. With each gateway able to handle thousands of nodes the infrastructure can support massive growth without additional hardware installations.

The event

The event itself was a great opportunity for networking, as we talked to some of the members of local council, who recognised the technology is an effective solution to the challenges they’re facing, demonstrated by their own rollout of gateways across the county. A theme continued into the talks, which presented several use cases which the technology had proved an effective solution. Ranging from smart cities data collection to autonomous vehicles and augmented cognition, just to name a few.

One of our developers particularly enjoyed a talk by Paul Foster; a Microsoft representative focusing on increasing the smartness of nodes, enabling them to go beyond basic raw data reporting to processing it to provide more meaningful information reducing load on the network by limiting broadcasts to what matters. Demoing a low power smart camera that perform image recognition on the device and then publish the results via The Things Network.

The conference bought together several suppliers. With Coderus offering its development services alongside several hardware suppliers able to offer attendees everything they needed to get up and running with LoRaWAN. In particular Pi Supply who have recently unveiled a Kickstarter campaign to fund new LoRa hardware for Raspberry Pi’s. Allowing the kind of rapid prototyping Coderus uses during the early stages of development to quickly build product prototypes and take them through to final implementation.

The workshops covered a plethora of topics. From hardware platforms to the technology fundamentals and capabilities. Defproc’s ‘Building a Temperature Sensor’, was an entry level introduction that taught attendees how to get up and running with LoRa in just 45 minutes. Not only covering connecting to The Things Network, but showing participants how to send sensor data over LoRaWAN. In contrast, The LoRa PHY workshop, provided an in-depth technical review of how the technology worked and the physical layer protocols in action.

Conclusion 

For the foreseeable future LoRaWAN will bring new opportunities, alongside new challenges. By sponsoring the upcoming Dev://east event, which is Ipswich’s second developer conference, and supporting TTN Suffolk meet-ups, Coderus is intent on making the most of this new technology and the new tech opportunities that will come along the way.

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