Greater range for wireless sensors

March 26, 2023

FH St. Pölten project investigates possible applications in smart homes and industry

Smart homes, houses with assistive technology, use a variety of sensors for a wide range of tasks. However, many an intended function fails due to the range of the wireless sensors used. A research project at the University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten is working on a technique to increase the range.

Motion and temperature sensors take on a number of tasks in smart homes to control devices or inform owners. However, the common wireless sensors only have short ranges and can therefore not be used everywhere.

Henri Ruotsalainen from the Institute for IT Security Research at St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences is currently working on a method to increase the range of the sensors. “For use cases where data from several locally mounted sensors needs to be transmitted wirelessly over longer distances, there is currently no viable technology. In our LoRaBridge project, we developed a data bridge that can be used to send data from local sensors to a server over longer distances,” says Ruotsalainen.

One of the target groups is private individuals who would like to install sensors or smart home components in the basement, attic or garden, but fail because the range of a wireless connection is not large enough to retrieve data over such distances.

Ruotsalainen has tested the technology extensively both indoors in a large office building and outdoors: “Our measurement campaign in Langenlois showed that the low-cost sensors can also be used for frost detection in vineyards.”

Use in industry

“Currently, the chip shortage is a big problem. Hardware is often expensive. With our solution, we can convert low-cost, low-range sensors into long-range ones,” Ruotsalainen explains.

Industrial applications are also conceivable. To this end, Ruotsalainen wants to investigate and further develop the technology with other sensors and with third-party suppliers. Examples of possible applications are the level detection of rubbish bins, the monitoring of car parks or the early detection of forest fires.

“Our data bridge focuses on security, flexibility, modular deployment and can be adapted to different needs. The technology is available as open source to all interested parties,” says Ruotsalainen.

LoRaBridge project – range extension for low-cost wireless sensors

The project was funded by the NetIdee initiative.

About the University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten: The University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten is a provider of practical and performance-oriented higher education in the fields of media, communication, management, digital technologies, informatics, security, railway technology, health and social affairs. In 6 departments, 26 degree programmes and numerous continuing education courses offer about 3,700 students a future-oriented education. Teaching and research are closely interlinked. As a European university, St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences leads the European university alliance E³UDRES² (Engaged and Entrepreneurial European University as Driver for European Smart and Sustainable Regions) and works with universities from 9 partner countries on concepts for the university of the future and on the development of smart and sustainable European regions.

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