This blog is part one of a six part series dedicated to locating Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) IoT devices. This initial post looks at the practical challenges associated with locating devices that communicate via the Ingenu LPWAN protocol.
In the Internet of Things, millions of connected "things" record and communicate important data via the internet to central platforms or other “things”. With predictions of more than 20 billion connected devices by 2020 (Gartner), scale and cost are very important. LPWAN addresses these challenges by providing efficient, long range communications capabilities enabling devices to transmit small amounts of data (per device) at a lower cost.
Accurately and efficiently locating mobile "things" provides a key data element in an integrated IoT strategy. With its power, bandwidth and cost constraints, LPWAN presents unique location challenges.
Ingenu is a California-based company with a proprietary IoT-only communications network which they intend to build-out worldwide. Per Ingenu, their Random Phased Multiple Access (RPMA) technology offers, “…wider reliable coverage, more usable capacity and scalability, customer-proven longer battery life, full-featured value, and decades of network longevity.” RPMA operates in the 2.4GHz frequency band and covers large areas of land with very little infrastructure.
Locating Ingenu Devices
Unlike some of the other LPWAN technologies, Ingenu does not have a built-in location method. With the sparse deployment of network nodes (a benefit of RPMA), the network itself is of little use for location, so locating RPMA devices requires an external method such as GPS, Wi-Fi or Cell-based.
While the best location method for Ingenu devices will be driven by the use case, Wi-Fi is preferred among the three viable location methods for Ingenu because:
- Wi-Fi works in the same 2.4GHz frequency band as RPMA, lessing the cost and impact on the device
- Wi-Fi is in the sweet spot in the cost / accuracy / battery drain tradeoff among the three location methods
While GPS is more accurate (outdoors), it is also more costly and less battery friendly. Cell-based and Wi-Fi methods typically have comparable cost and battery impact, but Wi-Fi is more accurate.
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