LoRaWAN fits into the IoT vision in several important ways.
LoRaWAN is being heralded as the backbone of the IoT. It truly supports innovative solutions that increase efficiency, reliability, safety and security within industrial processes and products. It is critical to IoT no matter what you call it - Smart Industry, Industry 4.0. But of course not just industry, healthcare, Oil&gas, universities, food & bev, pretty much all business that still needs a brick and mortar presence can benefit from cost effective real-time monitors and controls.
It stays true to the original vision of IoT. It is open-source and transmits over unlicensed frequency bands. That means you don’t pay for data usage. Plus it’s easy to develop your own LoRaWAN solutions and in true IoT form, the hardware and components should be interoperable between numerous vendors. As well, it provides a far longer range than WiFi or Bluetooth, works well indoors, and is especially valuable for remote areas where there are few cell towers. This is valuable for installations like oil wells or mines whose locations are dictated by the resources they are extracting. Also, as manufacturing and processing organizations are moving back to North America where labour and land prices are much higher than offshore prices, they will be forced to locate in more remote locations. LoRaWAN has embedded end-to-end AES-128 encryption, geolocation so no need for additional GPS add-on applications, plus it is low-power optimized, high capacity, multi-tenant and can be used indoors or outdoors.
Want to know some more details? Long range means signals can travel over a distance of more than 10 miles in rural areas. To give perspective, WiFi lasts about 150 feet, Bluetooth about 30 feet.
The low power aspect is significant because it means that batteries last a long long time (up to 10 years). Another way it conserves power is adaptive spreading which is inherent in the LoRa technology. This means the further from the gateway the higher the spread, a higher spread would normally take more power except that in this case the LoRa network knows to compensate by sending the data at a slower rate.
LoRaWAN has a high capacity - millions of messages can be transmitted per gateway which means you don’t have gaps in data and don’t have to limit the number of devices you deploy in the field.
Some last advantages include the fact that firmware updates can be done over-the-air and roaming is done seamlessly over different networks. LoRa signals are very resistant to interference, they are bi-directional, scalable, secure (network traffic can’t be listened to or captured).
Technical details aside, I am very excited to see what other types of applications and use cases people come up with. As of now, there are over 7 billion IoT devices, and this number is expected to grow to 50 billion by 2025! Some projects I have read about recently include things like weather reporting, smart agriculture, facial recognition applications, a gunfire detection app, a clothing microchip to verify authenticity, robotic maintenance sensors, smart crosswalks, and even something called smart dust - a system of tiny microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) such as sensors, robots, or other devices that can be used in health diagnostics.