Range vs. scale in IoT applications

LoRa vs. SecureDataShot (SDS): How Wireless Protocols Impact IoT Application Range and Scale

Margie Agin Food Service & Safety, Healthcare, Industry 4.0, Real Estate, Retail

As demand for smart solutions accelerates across a variety of industries, IoT applications are becoming increasingly diverse and specialized. Standard protocols for wireless connectivity – Cellular, WiFi and Bluetooth – can’t achieve all requirements that state-of-the-art IoT applications must provide to meet customer expectations and drive competitive advantage.

Therefore, new Internet of Things (IoT) protocols are emerging to allow for customization. For example, Long Range (LoRa) systems are becoming known for making efficient wireless communication possible over very long distances. LoRa can’t solve every need, however. There is a limit regarding the number of transmitters a LoRa system can support, which impacts the types of applications LoRa can enable.

At Disruptive Technologies we believe low cost and low power consumption are important for wide scale adoption of IoT applications. Starting with those requirements as prerequisites, let’s consider how best to meet the needs for range and scale.

LoRa can’t achieve IoT applications that require high sensor density or scalability

LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology, developed and owned by Semtech, work well in applications with a small amount of data exchange – and very few sensors – particularly over wide areas, such as agricultural land.

The downside of Long Range wireless is that it takes a longer time to send information. As an example, using a LoRa wireless system with a rate of one kilobit per second will take 1000x longer to get the same message transmitted compared to a Bluetooth device operating at one megabit per second.

LoRa would not be an appropriate choice for IoT applications that demand high sensor density – even applications supported by 100+ sensors. It’s clearly not possible to use LoRa to support tens of thousands of sensors within a single building or millions across a campus – all sending critical data simultaneously to support real-time decision making.

This isn’t simply a limitation of LoRa specifically. It’s not physically possible to have high both data rate and long range, no matter what technology is used. Let’s say you want to track temperature changes of pharmaceuticals, monitor doors to prevent fires, or receive tenant feedback in your building. If you have a long range system designed to cover an entire building with a single gateway, it cannot scale to collect and aggregate minute changes in data in multiple locations. Communications traffic will become congested and the system will fail.

As radio spectrum is in its nature shared by everyone, using a wireless sensor technology that doesn’t make efficient use of the spectrum will not only be a problem for the inefficient technology, but for everyone else using the same spectrum!

In contrast, a sensor solution built for scale can be deployed to cover tens thousands of sensors, so that sensors can be placed in high density for highly accurate data collection. New IoT applications can be added to keep pace with demand, without the need to change or replace the communications infrastructure.

Range vs. scale in IoT applications

Range vs. scale in IoT applications

Disruptive’s SecureDataShotTM avoids congestion and system failure

Disruptive Technologies’ sensing solution is built to scale to billions of sensors. Inspired by cellular network technology, we’ve designed a tailored protocol for our mini-sensors called SecureDataShotTM (SDS). SDS provides end-to-end encryption and seamless roaming across base stations, in SDS called Cloud Connectors. The SDS protocol has a range similar to WiFi and allows up to one million sensors to operate in a small geographical area. It’s designed for highly efficient radio spectrum usage so it can share spectrum with other sensor technologies that also operate with fair spectrum usage.

Compare SDS vs. LoRA

 SecureDataShotTMLong Range Solutions (e.g. LoRa)
ApplicationsBest for high data collection, high density applications such as:
• Building automation and predictive maintenance
• Temperature monitoring of rooms, refrigerators, drugs, industrial equipment, pipe, etc.,
• Open/closed monitoring for windows and doors
• Service feedback buttons
Best for low data collection, long range applications, such as:
• Agriculture monitoring of crops and livestock
• City services like lighting and waste removal
• Flood monitoring

Read the white paper, “Making IoT Sensor Solutions Future-Proof at Scale,” to learn more about how SecureDataShotTM enables pioneering IoT applications that demand high sensor density.