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LoRa gaining traction in smart home and building

LoRa gaining traction in smart home and building
LoRaWAN possesses the great advantage of having a 5- to 10-kilometer transmission range, and the technology focuses on low data rate applications.
Thanks to advancements in wireless communication and sensing technology, buildings and homes are evolving into smarter living spaces. For commercial buildings, there’s a large desire for efficient operation and management. As for residential homes, simple installation, maintenance and monitoring features are appealing to users. Ease of installation and maintenance as well as low costs are also major benefits for the smart home and building sectors.

According to Ryan Hickey, LoRaWAN Ambassador and COO of Eleven-x, LoRaWAN possesses the great advantage of having a 5- to 10-kilometer transmission range, and the technology focuses on low data rate applications. Low data rate also enables a longer battery life. This directly lowers the maintenance costs, making the installation and management economical. In addition, the transmission in buildings or wider area requires no extra access points and is not limited to internet connection, further emphasizing the low-cost benefits for IoT industries.

Steve Kilts, Co-Founder and CEO of Radio Bridge said that the cost of LoRaWAN is less than a dollar per month per device to connect directly to the network operator in an earlier article. “LoRaWAN technology doesn’t require additional wiring or building infrastructure. We’ve been discussing this benefit with hospitality customers and property managers who generally only need one gateway to cover the entire building for information collection,” explained Kilts. “This technology is the next step for home security and building monitoring. For service providers that focus on maintenance and warranties, the sensors are the early indicators for costly problems.”

Besides low maintenance fees, the companies who adopt this standard do not have to pay for the spectrum because it’s operated in the unlicensed spectrum. When operating on free spectrum ISM bands, it takes low connection costs by using external service provider.

Sensors and Gateways

In smart home and building applications, sensors and gateways are the most common devices using LoRaWAN technology. One LoRaWAN gateway can connect a number of door and window sensors throughout huge buildings. For instance, when the sensor reports abnormal door or window activities in unoccupied rooms, the system can trigger instant alert to the security guards.

It’s a trend to introduce environmental sensors to monitor air quality, humidity, temperature and water consumption in commercial or residential buildings, making buildings and spaces healthy, safe and enjoyable for people to spend time in.

Water damage may be a major factor to drive consumers to put water sensors in the basement or sink. These sensors can report when there is moisture on the floor so when it senses a flood it will notify the gateway, which will turn the tap to shut off the water and avoid flooding and damage to the property. In some countries water can freeze in the pipes during winter, which could cause it to burst and result in water damage. There are sensors used to detect fire, smoke and temperature as well.

For home owners or property managers, power efficient sensors can help them save on time and maintenance costs. Compatibility is also essential. Some buildings already have smart connected devices installed. When introducing new technology into the building, it’s necessary to take interoperability with other existing devices into consideration.

For property managers or rental house owners, Netvox developed a patented multi-gateway system that combines all the management and data monitoring into one platform, making it easier to collect and supervise sensor readings from various locations under different networks. “At the time we joined the LoRa market, a lot of areas have just passed infrastructural POC (Proof of Concept) and needed a lot of applicable solutions,” said Kent Shen, VP of Netvox Technology, in a previous article.

Besides home control and automation, LoRaWAN has been employed in homes or personal care. For example, the technology can be used in emergency buttons or wearable devices for the elderly. Because of its long-range transmission capabilities, the sensors are widely used outdoors or outside the house in the backyard or garage.

LoRa and LoRaWAN are considered emerging technologies that can address problems and provide benefits in comparison with other LPWAN technologies or short-range LAN standards. Low costs and long communication ranges are two major factors driving the use of this technology in the IoT space. Also, support from worldwide network operators and the growing ecosystem are additional factors boosting market demand.

Although LoRa and LoRaWAN have certain benefits that can help it edge out other competing technologies in the smart home and building spaces, the new technology still needs to strengthen its ecosystem and partnerships with other existing players to increase market presence and share. We can expect more and more new LoRa-enabled solutions on the market that are making building and home management more efficient and cost-effective.
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