The Things Network is a unique in its kind, huge and publicly available global LoRaWAN™ network, connecting over six thousand gateways in more than 130 countries. Because LoRa technology is tightly coupled with the Thaumatec’s DNA, we didn’t hesitate a minute to save our spots at the annual event – The Things Conference – that took place in Amsterdam, Netherlands at the turn of January and February 2019. It’s been two long days, full of workshops and presentations explaining new trends and directions of the in LoRa industry.
We arrived at the venue in the very morning and quickly confirmed our assumptions regarding the activeness of the community. Walking by the conference booths we had a lot of great conversations with the representatives of leaders in the industry and just after grabbing a cup of coffee and making our way to the main stage we stumbled upon giant wall presenting multitude of recent, LoRa related hardware developments, being it new sensors, gateways, antennas or microchips. It took a significant amount of time event to just briefly review all the gadgets.
The main stage was where the most interesting stuff have happened, and there were indeed a lot of engaging announcements to be made by the event hosts and invited guests. The first thing that is important to notice is the launch of “The Generic Node” device, which is an answer to the problem of high TCO of the LoRa based systems. You no longer need to design, develop and fabricate a specific device to server your project needs. You can quickly deploy the generic device and focus on prototyping your solution. The Generic Node can be easily connected to the TTN network and provide you with telemetry data from many internal sensors, such as light, accelerometer, temperature, touch, humidity, etc. Want to use the LoRa technology without hardware design – The Generic Node is for you.
It is also worth noting that The Generic Node takes advantage of the other piece of engineering art that was presented at the conference, the ATECC609A microchip that provides hardware based security to the LoRa transmission layer. Introduction of the chip makes the device provisioning secure and makes it impossible to tamper with the embedded cryptographic keys.
But the ultimate announcement was still there to be made. The founders of The Thing Networks decided that the LoRaWAN stack should become accessible for everyone to use. Therefore, just during the presentation on the main stage they made the GitHub repository of the V3 software stack public, giving everybody access to the implementation of the network stack that strictly follows the LoRaWAN Network Reference Model. What a news!
In between the engaging presentations we had a chance to participate in several workshops. One of them was related to the Azure IoT Hub and the ways one can utilize it to quickly develop IoT applications in the cloud. During the hands-on workshop specialists from Microsoft explained how you can connect your IoT device to the Azure Cloud in literally less than 30 minutes and that even included flashing the device with appropriate software. Once your telemetry data land in the cloud you can use straightforward drag&drop mechanisms to quickly prototype your solution.
Finally, at the end of the second day just before leaving the conference, we were once again nicely surprised. Everyone who attended the event was given a brand new LoRa gateway, whose launch was also announced during the conference. This is the fully functional, indoor LoRa gateway which is going to be available for purchase at the disruptively low price. It’s amazing that you no longer need to spend a lot of money on a gateway nor you need to have professional hardware development skills to start your adventure with LoRa communication.
All the information above is just a small excerpt of the entire content available during The Things Conference. If you plan to extend your LoRa related knowledge or you are just going to get acquainted with the technology we definitely recommend visiting the conference next year.