New LoRa and Bluetooth module series bridges IoT’s wireless gap

Tim Bonnett, director at Alpha Micro Components

Alpha Micro Components is now distributing the first IoT (Internet of Things) modules to combine Bluetooth v4.0 and LoRa support in a single device, the Laird RM1 series.

Enabling low energy connectivity over distances of many miles, these modules save money and time while enhancing safety and slashing downtime.

“By bringing together these two complementary technologies, with their great coverage of local and wide area communication respectively, we’re now able to provide a single, cost-effective, ultra low-power module that provides total, seamless wireless networking coverage for any IoT device,” said Tim Bonnett, director at Alpha Micro Components. “In addition, this module really simplifies implementation and accelerates roll out by packaging a complete wireless communications solution in a single module, with a trusted, field-tested development environment.”

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The RM1 series of modules – currently comprising the RM191 for FCC compliance and the RM186 for CE compliance – are particularly suitable for IoT monitoring, tracking and data collection tasks that require reliable battery-powered devices in remote, dangerous and difficult-to-access locations. Potential applications include industrial, agricultural, utility, as well as many others.

These new modules allow IoT devices to gather sensor data and send control messages via short range wireless Bluetooth or physical links. They can share that data with central servers or gateways – and also be remotely managed – via LoRa, over a range of up to 10 miles (about 15 km).

Cutting costs and enhancing safety

Sensors making use of the RM1’s Bluetooth low energy communications and LoRa are extremely power efficient. They can operate for years on a tiny coin cell battery. This longevity and self-sufficiency makes it possible to install RM1-equipped sensors in inaccessible locations or dangerous environments, with no physical connection to the outside. So integrating the RM1 can substantially reduce replacement and maintenance costs, as well as enhancing staff safety.

For example, in a typical industrial application, IoT devices equipped with RM1 series modules collect temperature, flow and quantity sensor data in a production or processing facility – using the RM1’s Bluetooth for hard-to-reach sensors. That data is instantly uploaded via LoRa to an administrative center several miles away, where it is analysed to quickly alert staff to production or safety issues so they can act before problems can develop.

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Rapid IoT application development, with smartBasic

The RM1 series modules are remarkably easy to integrate into IoT devices and they offer integrators very rapid time to market, thanks to their support for the smartBasic language. Laird’s smartBasic is a tried and tested, event-driven programming language which enables automated, hostless applications and helps cut OEM development risk and cost.

The RM1 series are the first commercial-available IoT modules to provide both BT 4.0 and LoRa – offering the best of both worlds and a complete wireless communications solution for IoT.

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