LoRaWan: What is it and what is it for? How does it work?

JSC Ingenium - Glossary: LoRaWan: What is it and what is it for? How does it work?

LoRaWan is a technology designed to provide solutions to IoT (Internet of Things) projects. This is a type of low-power network protocol for business or industrial uses. It is also a type of communication that works bidirectionally for the transmission of low volumes of data.

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What is LoRaWan?

LoRaWan technology is a low-power wide-coverage network protocol designed to wirelessly connect several battery-powered devices by connecting to different networks. Due to the low consumption of the battery, it can offer an average service life of more than 10 years.

LoRaWan is a media access control layer protocol, built on top of LoRa modulation. The latter is a wireless modulation technology derived from Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS), which is ideal for connections that transmit small packets of data with low bit rates. Data can be transmitted over a wider range than other technologies such as Wifi, Bluetooth or ZigBee.

These features make LoRa suitable for sensors operating in low-power mode, without the need for power supply.

What is it for?

The LoRaWan protocol provides secure two-way connections encrypted from end to end, at a distance of more than 10 kilometers in rural areas and up to 3 kilometers in dense urban areas, providing a large number of solutions, for example:

  • Vaccine and food cold chain monitoring: LoRaWan sensors can be used to verify that an environment has the right temperature.
  • Location of animals: sensors allow animals to be located within a set radius.
  • Patient monitoring: wristband sensors can determine a fall and track medication consumption.
  • Smart crops: providing real-time information on humidity and atmospheric conditions, which allows the optimization of plant cultivation.
  • Water conservation: leak detection, ensuring timely conservation of the vital liquid.
  • Smart garbage containers: alerts about the level of waste are directed to the plant, where better decisions can be made to optimizing the collection schedule.
  • Tracking at airports: baggage monitoring, staff, vehicles…
  • Transport tracking: track loads using LoRaWan technology.

How does LoRaWan work?

To understand how this technology works we could compare it with a mobile network, which works using an antenna that is in constant communication with mobile phones; in addition, LoRaWan-based devices have a module that is permanently communicated with a local central called ‘gateway’. This gateway is an intermediary between the sensor and the server. The network server communicates with the gateway over the Internet and tells the sensor how to interact.

LoRaWan is perfect for transmitting small packets of data over long distances. LoRa modulation provides a much larger communication range than other wireless data transmission technologies.