With the proliferation of LoRa® devices and the LoRaWAN® standard, finding the sensor you want amongst the various IoT marketplaces can be a dizzying minefield. To make it easier, we have introduced Pinpoint - a new service for connecting suppliers to opportunities.
We all accept the ‘80/20 rule’ when tackling a task: approximately 80 percent of the results usually come from 20 percent of the effort. Of course that isn’t scientific, it’s completely anecdotal. It merely serves to help us understand that we tend to tackle the easy bits first and need some tenacity to complete a job once the going gets tough.
Living with LoRa and LoRaWAN for the past six years, we have amassed a broad spectrum of real-life quantitative data, along with plenty that’s anecdotal, supporting, perhaps, a new rule: The IoT Gain ‘The IoT Gain’ tells us that, if we can measure it and optimize it, we can usually improve the outcome by approximately 30 percent. This manifests in huge cleaning cost savings, water usage reduction, increased farm yields, reduction in inventory, and lower environmental impact.
So, what’s the problem?
Going back a few years, we divided the IoT world into two types. Firstly there were the “technologists” who work with numbers, equations, math, and physics, and how they relate to the physical world. The technologist can bounce a sound wave off something and tell you how far away it is, or can analyze radio signals and determine distance, direction or location. If you ask a technologist, “Can I use your technology to solve my problem,” they can give you an answer- yes, no… or perhaps, yes with limitations. Those limitations and implications are completely obvious to the technologist but not to others.
We called the second type “application innovators.” Our application innovators see things from the perspective of an application problem to solve. “How can I tell where all my empty pallets are?” “If only the water meter told me there was a leak.” “By guaranteeing the integrity of the consignment, I save time and money.”
The key to building an optimized battery-powered IoT solution is to deeply understand the real problems from the ground up; i.e., what exactly are the issues, and when does each one becomes important? Almost all applications have a multiple phases or ‘modes’. For example, a pallet passing through the cold chain has very different requirements when it has an expensive consignment on board than when it is empty and left in the yard. The key to optimizing the design is to understand, at every stage, the detail of the application requirement. The application innovator becomes a kind of a chef pulling together the technologist’s ingredients.
So, coming back to my point, why is it so hard for application innovators to find what they need in the marketplaces?
Technologists push their technology, in the form of devices, to marketplaces. It is this act of ‘pushing’ that causes the problem. If I am a technologist and I list my water level sensor, I will get hits from everyone searching for a water level sensor. Since my sensor may be good for measuring all kinds of other distances too, I also tag it with ‘distance’, ‘height’, ‘snow’, ‘grain’, ‘sewer’, and any other use I can think of. Our technologist is trying to think like an application innovator. Great! Since the device shows up in many more searches the listing job is done.... Or is it? The technologist can’t possibly know all the potential applications, so cannot have listed them all.
Application innovators, looking for a device, hit the internet with a search and receive one of two potential outcomes:
- When using generic terms they are flooded with hits and don’t know how to decide which one makes most sense for the application.
- If the application is novel, constraining the search to the particular application gets almost no hits.
So, what’s the answer? It’s twofold.
The first is the Semtech LoRa Developer catalog. This catalog helps you search for specific criteria that you may be looking for among devices, sensors, and ecosystem companies. It provides an easy way to search through a lot of potential solutions. However, you may not always find what you need in the catalog. And for those things, Pinpoint can help.
Pinpoint is a place where application innovators can briefly describe their application problem and must-have features and push their request to the community of technologists. By creating this central point— where the application innovators can push their requests —we hope to help to bridge the two worlds of technologists and application innovators more effectively and therefore smooth the path to success. Thus, we are bringing a more “design thinking approach” to IoT solutions, one where we focus on describing the problem and not the technology.
So, whether you are just exploring potential solutions, or ready to get to the next level, Semtech is here to help you solve your problems by connecting you with an array of knowledgeable companies who are ready to assist!
Semtech, the Semtech logo and LoRa are registered trademarks or service marks of Semtech Corporation or its affiliates.