Thomas Durand

MEng Student

Generic next-generation communication bridge with IoT applications

The Internet of things (IoT) is the networking of an array of physical devices to collect and exchange data with the internet. An IoT solution needs to consist of the following basic components: (a) Hardware: sensors, actuators and embedded communication hardware (b) Middleware – Data processing and storage (c) Presentation - Visualization and interpretation tools for the different applications.

The aim of this thesis is to research and develop a hardware layer communication bridge which can easily interface with existing sensors and microcontrollers to relay data to a remote sever for further data analysis. The research topic involves researching different technologies available such as GSM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, LoRaWAN, Sigfox, NB-IoT and LTE-M.

Specific research will be done in the field of Low power wide area networks (LPWAN) with variable utility scale applications, comparing the two major LPWAN networks, Sigfox and LoRaWAN. Test needs to be done on the hardware platform to determine if the communication bridge will serve as a viable solution to connect sensors to the internet. Different aspects need to be tested such as network performance, range, reliability, speed and throughput. Further the different communication bridges also need to be evaluated in terms of battery live, practicality and cost as to determine the optimum IoT communication bridge technology for the South-African industry.