Interview #2: Wireless IQRF technology and IQRF Alliance
16 February 2021
Nice day to everyone, this is Iva from the IQRF Alliance. Today I have my colleague Honza on the other side. I would like to ask him a few questions about the Internet of Things.
Honza, can you tell our listeners why our alliance is called the IQRF?
Hi, the IQRF Alliance was established to support the community emerging around the Czech wireless technology IQRF. Our members are companies from all over the world that implement technologies into their products, so they are manufacturers as well as software developers who are involved in, for example, developing a cloud environment for easy management of an IQRF network, etc. Our members are also integrators who are looking for projects where members' solutions could be used. Our members are also schools, whether universities or high schools. The purpose of the alliance is to support this community because then we have a logically stronger position on the market. We organize workshops, meetups, conferences for members, we also participate in trade fairs, where we rent a larger stand somewhere in the middle and invite our members to participate there, so we are exhibiting at the stand, for example, in five members, and this is more attractive for visitors to see more solutions and products. I see the main benefit in the product ecosystem, which is composed of compatible devices from our members.
Since some of our members are hardware manufacturers and use our IQRF wireless technology in their portfolio, it would probably be good to say something more about that technology. Can you explain it a little closer?
It is a wireless technology that is represented by small IQRF transceivers that are integrated into electronic devices. In addition, it can work in a mesh topology, which you can imagine as the gradual transmission of a message across the entire network, and the message literally jumps from device to device to the farthest points of the network. The fact that information can be delivered to the device from all its neighbours in the area gives the communication enormous reliability.
That sounds like a great advantage. Does it have any other benefits?
The device can work in various power modes, so it is not a problem to work several years on the battery, data transmission is also encrypted, AES-128 is used, and then also the already mentioned reliability.
What about the reach?
Wireless transmission can be sometimes a little bit complicated. In open space, IQRF transceivers can transmit and receive data for several hundred meters, in buildings for about tens of meters, but it depends on obstacles in a place. The advantage of this mesh topology is that the denser the network, the greater the reliability, so the range can be extended by adding more devices so that message can jump between obstacles.
How many such devices can we have in one mesh network?
The main device, which we call the coordinator, gives commands to other so-called nodes, there can be up to 239 nodes in the network. These are, for example, the end devices, sensors, actuators or lights, sockets. In the alliance, we also have a company that makes mousetraps.
That sounds very practical. How does communication with those devices look like?
It depends on the manufacturer. If he follows any of his standards, he can create his own communication, which can involve a lot of programming. We try to simplify this for manufacturers and developers, so we have created a standard for IQRF interoperability. The IQRF Alliance provides certification for IQRF interoperability. Thanks to this, communication is simple and predictable.
So the manufacturer should learn how the standard is defined, writes his own software accordingly, then gives it an alliance for certification, and then those who want to incorporate the device into their solution have a much easier job.
Communication with those devices then works in a uniform way, basically, the similar quantities are used, data in the same format, overall it is much easier.
So in the network, I can have sensors from different manufacturers and communicate with them in a completely uniform way. I send the same questions and I get answers in the same format so I can work with them in the same way.
It then becomes a puzzle, just like when I connect a mouse to a computer, although from different manufacturers, I know it will work.
Is the alliance currently preparing an event where we could meet its members, see products, solutions, learn more about projects?
If you want to learn more about the IQRF Alliance or IQRF technology, I'd like to invite you to an online meetup (February 24 from 10 am). There you can listen to members presenting interesting technical facts and news, and their projects.
...or their offers if they need to involve other partners. You are all welcome! Honzo, thanks for the interview.