Summary of LoRaWAN
LoRaWAN is a low power and long range transmission system. LoRaWAN is designed for specific uses, such as the Internet of Things and other management interfaces. Below we will discuss LoRaWAN, its use cases, and future developments in more depth.
LoRa is a low-level interface that converts information into a radio signal and transmits that signal. The system was designed by Semtech and is licensed to other manufacturers. LoRaWAN is a system that uses LoRa as a one-to-many or point-to-multipoint connection. This is a type of connection where one node has paths to multiple other endpoints such as via broadcasting.
LoRaWAN allows one node to communicate with many different endpoints or gateways. The endpoints may all receive the transmission or only some may receive it. Any endpoints that receive the transmission uploads it to a central repository (such as cloud servers). This redundancy allows data to be transmitted and received even if the signal is very weak. Any endpoints that receive the transmission may submit the data and higher level interfaces understand how to handle the redundant submissions.
LoRaWAN is an asynchronous system built on redundancy rather than checks. In other words, LoRaWAN gateways do not send acknowledgments that data was received. The entire LoRaWAN infrastructure may be configured to send acknowledgments for received data, but if a gateway is sending an acknowledgment it is not receiving data and thus may miss transmissions.
LoRaWAN is a system with many trade offs as well as many benefits.. The system is designed for nodes to transmit to all gateways within range. Nodes and gateways are not "smart," meaning that their configurations are handled elsewhere. Essentially, nodes and gateways are workers for central repositories that receive the information. LoRaWAN is a system where missing large chunks of the data is deemed perfectly fine. As long as some data is received, the system is functioning appropriately. Note that this not mean that LoRaWAN is designed around consistently missing a large amount of data. It only means that missing large chunks of data for a period of time is acceptable.
With this is mind, we can discuss the main use cases for LoRaWAN. LoRaWAN is useful for Internet of Things systems in large scale infrastructures, such as cities. In cities, smart devices that gather a wide range of metrics may send data back to a central hub constantly. LoRaWAN's long range and low power abilities means that data and metrics could be continuously sent and received cheaply. Waste management, smart lighting, pollution tracking, parking management, farming, and logistics, are all examples of LoRaWAN uses.
LoRaWAN is currently deployed in smart cities as well as industrial settings. The future of LoRaWAN, however, is in the home. IoT is increasingly becoming popular for home applications. Smart versions of household devices such as refrigerators, pet trackers, smoke alarms, security systems, thermometers, and others are increasingly being developed and released. These devices usually use WiFi which was not designed with IoT in mind. LoRaWAN's long range, low power, and security features make it an excellent candidate for IoT for the home.