24 Apr 2015, 11:45 Projects IBM Design Thinking

Connecting low power Things to Bluemix

We have been working with IBM Research Zurich on integrating their Long-Range Signaling and Control (LRSC) platform into Bluemix. Based on the LoRa technology, LRSC allows very low power devices to communicate wirelessly over a range of several miles.

Sensors connect to a physical gateway device, which bridges between the LoRa wireless technology and standard IP networking. The gateway then connects to a centralised LRSC server, which manages the network. The server connects to our bridge, which then passes messages to the IBM Internet of Things Foundation (IoTF) service on Bluemix.

Messages appearing in IoTF from LRSC

IoTF makes it easy to access the sensor data from custom applications running on Bluemix. It provides an MQTT interface that allows a developer to subscribe to updates from any LRSC device, as well as to publish control messages down to the end device.

The Lamplighter demo application

To help us demonstrate the bridge, we have created a mobile web application that allows a street light installer to easily test a new street light in the field.

We used IBM’s Design Thinking process to create the following Minimum Viable Product:

As a Device Installer, I can test the end-to-end bi-directional operation of a newly installed device within a minute of installing it and without leaving its location.

We worked with our designers through a series of storyboards and low fidelity prototypes, which led to the following design for the user interface:

The Lamplighter User Interface

The sidebar is dynamically updated with any new devices that connect to LRSC. The device installer can then select the new device, send a test command to the device, and finally confirm its location on the map.

The application is deployed on Bluemix using the Ionic Framework for the front end, and Express.js running in the nodejs buildpack for the back end.

We use the IMST SK-iM880A kit for our test devices and the Kerlink LoRa IoT Station for our gateway.

Using the Bridge

The bridge code is available as a sample on github.