LoRa based wireless sensor network is a combination of two terms, LoRa (Long Range) and wireless sensor networks. Now before knowing more about this let us first understand what these two terms actually mean.
Wireless Sensor Network
Wireless Sensor Network is defined as a self-configured and infrastructure-less wireless network that is used to monitor physical and environmental conditions like temperature, sound, vibration, pressure, motion, pollutants, etc. The data collected from wireless sensors is passed to the gateway through the network where it is observed and analysed. And this data is further sent to the cloud.
Long Range (LoRa) is a wireless technology that is capable of offering long range, low power and a secure data transmission for IoT devices. It was developed by a French company called Cycleo. LoRa is used to connect sensors, gateways, machines, devices, etc. wirelessly to the cloud. It is a chirp based spectrum modulation that has low power characteristics and can be used for long range communication. LoRa has different operating bands for different regions. They are-
- 915 MHz band for USA
- 868 MHz band for Europe
- 865 to 867 MHz and 920 to 923 MHz band for Asia
Some key features of LoRa-
- Long Range
- Low Power
- Low Cost
- High Capacity
Why use a LoRa based Wireless Sensor Network?
Wireless Sensor Network is a very popular and has a widespread use in the field of IoT. But there are primarily two challenges faced by WSN, energy consumption and coverage area. Recently advancements are being made to enhance the performance of WSN and that is what gave rise to LoRa based Wireless Sensor Network that uses low energy and has a long range of coverage. These features of LoRa based Wireless Sensor Network make it ideal for applications where the network infrastructure has to work in an autonomous manner for a longer time and over a wide range of areas. Today LoRa powered sensor networks can be found in major applications of IoT like smart homes, smart agriculture, etc. Let’s have a closer look at some of these applications in detail.
Some applications of LoRa based wireless Sensor Network
Smart home using LoRaWAN
LoRa based wireless sensor network aims to monitor different devices and sensors and update the user in real-time. The main focus is on monitoring smoke, humidity, temperature and other environmental parameters. This system allows remote monitoring and raises an alarm if the value from any sensor goes beyond the threshold. LoRaWAN ( Long Range Wide Area Network) module connects sensors to microcontrollers which can be connected over the internet for better communication.
LoRa based Smart Agriculture
Many sensors today are being used for collection of various types of agricultural data. But these sensors can only perform the data collection, they lack effective use and analysis of this data. To solve this problem an intelligent platform has to be developed. This platform can be used to collect information from the field and transmit it to remote computers to be analysed. LoRa technology is a great fit for this as it can transmit data over a long range, it is battery-operated and can be used for several years without changing the batteries which is very suitable for outdoors like the fields.
Livestock Monitoring using Lora Based wireless Sensor Network
Along with applications in Agriculture, LoRa is important for cattle farmers to track and detect anomalies in cattle behaviour in real-time. Farmers put LoRa-based sensors on collars and tags of the cattle to track their location in real-time that alerts the farmers in case any cattle wanders out of their designated area or in case of a theft. These sensors can track the health of the cattle and the farmers can take early action of separating them from the herd to prevent any spread of infection. Data tracked remotely can be sent to the veterinarian anywhere in the world.
Office Temperature monitoring Using Low Power Wide Area Network
IT centres and data centers require a large amount of high-performing computers installed at their facilities. It is found that 60% of energy consumption in these offices go towards cooling computers because of the over-designing of the cooling system. Introduction of a low cost, battery operated LoRa based wireless sensor network can be very beneficial for long term temperature monitoring.
Real-time data acquired along with historical data can be used to detect problems and predict possible thermal issues all while improving the energy efficiency of the office.
Building management system Using LoRa
Rapid development and automation of business management system has only been held back by kilometers long cable wires. The advent of LoRa eased off the placement of wires due to its wireless technology. Adding on to that, LoRa consumes little power unlike the power hungry WiFi and cellular networks. Incorporating LoRa in building management systems can simplify the management, reduce environmental impact, reduce cost significantly and enhance safety.
Energy monitoring system Based on LoRaWAN
In recent years many renewable energy plants have opened up globally. But, these renewable energy sources are difficult to operate in a planned schedule and have volatile outputs. Management of these renewable energy resources becomes easy with collecting, analyzing and responding to information continuously generated at these plants. LoRa based sensor networks become very important here to support wide area networking and for providing low cost wireless solutions.
LoRa based Energy Monitoring can be implemented in societies, big industries, where power consumption needs to be managed.
LoRa based Smart city
In a smart city applications range from connecting city services like lighting, parking, waste removal, etc. to optimizing utilities and personnel to save time and money. As these applications involve a large number of people using these applications in high-frequency, these systems need to have low energy consumption, a portable system and overall a low cost in the long run. To meet all these requirements LoRa based Sensor Network is used.
LoRa based wireless sensor network for Environment monitoring
This system is consistently used to monitor the environment in industries. Temperature sensors, gas sensors and flow sensors are installed in the industries for monitoring and for the safety of the people working there. Air Quality Monitoring is one of the important aspects considering the increase in pollution.These sensors keep a constant track and send the data to the microcontroller. If any value is out of normal then immediate action is taken by informing the appropriate authorities. All these sensors can communicate to the gateway using various LPWAN technologies, LoRaWAN is one and widely used.
Offline monitoring system in military or defence
In the future,the battlefield is going to be filled with numerous sensors, actuators, devices and information sources. Battles have always been one of the primary sources for technological advancements. Hence, when it comes to technology, the military never lags behind. Same was the case with the LoRa based sensor network. LoRa is used for various purposes in the military like arms and ammunition management, location and health of soldiers, fleet management, identification of enemy, etc.
LoRa based wireless sensor network is widely used in wide area communication. There is still a lot of research undergoing to implement this technology in various other sectors of life.