Hi there, I’ve been looking at LoRaWAN for tracking for a while now. One thing I can say that it potentially opens up new markets for tracking low to medium value assets. Contrast that to SIM-based tracking solutions, which are, right now, really only suitable for tracking high value assets - think trains planes and automobiles. Objects that can tolerate bulky batteries or provide a DC supply.
LoRaWAN’s trade-off against SIM is small size for higher latency and lower reliability, hence the suitability for low-medium value asset tracking. Now I will admit there is a consumer-product bias in this discussion, which has a big factor in driving the cost of the solution down. It’s actually not a great place to be playing in right now - the hardware will only get more commoditized as costs drive to 0. Tracking solution vendors are scrambling to find differentiation in the total solution which is relying more and more on the cloud services offering.
And as we know, cellular operators are moving in with competing solutions based on technologies like NB-IoT. For safety of life or any kind of emergency-based solution these regulated solutions will be the only way to realistically proceed.
Now that’s just the uplink technology.
What about the actual position fixing? Here I think there is a little more room for innovation because the traditional solution of using GPS is really poor for tracking low-medium value assets (or many kinds of assets). GPS is power-hungry, finicky, unreliable. Why does it work on your cellphone? That’s because your mobile super-computer is using its vast bandwidth to keep the GPS engine running in top form in so-called Assisted GPS mode.
Here, LoRaWAN could offer a competitive advantage over even similarly priced SIM-based solutions that must rely on GPS. Unlink cellular, LoRaWAN is not limited in the number of gateways that can be placed. As a result, network-based positioning of the sensors is possible and with useful accuracy.
I really see only one way forward for LoRaWAN to compete with cellular for tracking low to medium value assets - and that is with network-based positioning so that the sensor size and cost can drive down, commensurate with the asset they are tracking.
The question is how do we get to the right density of gateway deployment? It’s chicken and egg in some ways. What if you were compensated to run and maintain a gateway? Would that incentivize the mass deployment of gateways to support sufficient RSSI and/or TDoA network-based location of sensors? What if you were compensated a portion of a crypto-token or reward for recognition of your efforts of moving data packets from sensor to cloud?
Food for thought.