Welsh tech manufacturer wants to revolutionise the IoT industry

GCell, a leading manufacturer of iBeacon hardware and other connected technology, has announced it’s currently developing a revolutionary IoT sensor node.

The Cardiff-based company has been working with Professor Marcel Meli and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences Institute of Embedded Systems (ZHAW) on this device.

This long-range wireless node is powered by harvesting energy and is set to transform the LoRa protocol. The latter is used to promote the standardisation of low power wide area network (LPWAN).

These technologies are driving the implementation of the Internet of Things, an industry that’s already worth billions globally and keeps growing. By 2020, it could be in the hundreds of billions.

A basic system normally consists of a number of LoRa nodes, which aim to transfer small amounts of data over long distances quickly and efficiently. They’re normally powered by battery.

However, GCell and ZHAW have created a node that negates the requirement for batteries. Instead, it can harvest energy from any visible light source inside or out.

GCell already manufacturers and sells solar-powered technology to work with wireless personal area networks (WPAN) and sees this announcement as an important milestone.

Barry Jenkins, a director at GCell, said: “Cisco forecast that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Even if only 10 per cent of those are battery powered, it still means a huge number of batteries being replaced in future years.”

LPWAN is making waves all across the world. Mobile operator Orange is currently rolling out this technology in France, including Swisscom in Switzerland. Nodes typically send data out 150 times a day. GCell’s node can transmit information every 15 minutes. 

Jenkins continued: “With the development of this energy harvesting LoRa sensor node, GCell reaffirms its commitment giving users the freedom to disconnect from mains power and not be restricted by the limitations of batteries.

“Not only is this solution better for the environment, but it also reduces to total cost of ownership of an IoT solution. The first deployment of the GCell powered LoRa sensor nodes are planned for trial in early 2017.”