Starting with the development of LPWAN products is challenging. Especially for the cellular applications using the latest transmission technologies, such as NB-IoT, the hurdle for both entry and professional development of a market-ready product is notably high. Furthermore, an emerging new way of thinking about product development towards ultra-low power design increases the complexity even further.
Yamori, an embedded platform from Murata and Sentinum, offers a holistic system simplifying the entry and implementation of IoT solutions on LPWAN standards. It is created for developers to quickly prototype energy-efficient long-range connectivity solutions, based on LoRaWAN, MIOTY or NB-IoT. It bridges the gap between development and mass production by using professional hardware and software building blocks, and thereby, providing a scalable platform for the implementation of IoT projects. We had the chance to speak to Johannes Ollech from Sentinum and Naveen Suryakumar from Murata and asked about energy optimization at Yamori, the challenges they face and the energy-efficient mindset.
Turning a first prototype into a market-ready product is a big leap and most of the time heavily aggravated by the fact that both hardware and software blocks are neither cost- nor application-optimized, something that Sentinum team themselves experienced in developing for their customers. It comes with a long and cost-intensive development of a prototype solution, as well as the subsequent cost-intensive and lengthy support of the product to a market-ready solution, says Johannes. Together with Murata, they launched Yamori that serves as an aid in the development of LPWAN products helping with the development of hardware as well as connecting to existing could systems.
“Yamori does not only use latest state-of-the-art chipset and power management but is also implemented in a very power-optimized way. The synergy between hardware and software is hard to achieve and very time consuming as every microamp counts.”
Aiming for energy autonomous IoT applications, energy optimization is key for the platform. High volumes and inaccessibly mounted sensors make maintenance difficult and time-consuming. In general, wireless hardware makes sense everywhere where it is unprofitable to lay cables and a micro-invasive installation makes many applications in the customer’s area attractive. So, the final product most of the time is battery-powered and undergoes extensive field application testing with no external power available. To test everything sufficiently Yamori needs to live up to the battery standards at hand. In addition, the Yamori development board itself is powered by primary cells which make long battery life even more crucial.
“It is important that the sensor once mounted runs for years without further services needed. 10 years of a lifetime is what we strive for”
Consequently, energy efficiency is an essential part of the Yamori mindset when it comes to developing new hardware and sensors. The development process is designed to achieve the longest runtime possible which means both the selection of the hardware components as well as the implementation of software blocks are designed for ultra-low power consumption. Using Otii Arc, the Yamori developers are tracking the power consumption continuously while working on new firmware, no matter how small the changes are.
“Like any small change in software or hardware can lead to errors and significantly higher power consumption, an instantaneous correction is crucial for successful product development. Therefore, we use Otii on a daily basis.”
Otii Arc is considered standard equipment for every Sentinum engineer and is utilized in the development phase of the hardware, in the implementation of the firmware, as well as in the evaluation of the function blocks or long-term tests. Continuously measuring with Otii Arc allows for quick evaluation and easy adjustments to improve the software blocks. Large and overpriced devices that take up a lot of space are obsolete and became a thing of the past. The Otii Arcs are easily relocated to be used in different environments and the simple connection together with a clear standard guide comes with a lot of advantages. Furthermore, the clear real-time display of the current curve is a decisive criterion for developers, Johannes emphasis. Due to the high sampling rate, the finest details and specific processes can be observed, and together with an integrated terminal, the development time can be drastically simplified.
“Storing and documenting the measured values is very easy. This ensures a high-quality development process. Otii is now an integral part of modern quality management – in development as well as in production.”
The main added value here is that they can truly rely on their products and their power management. In this way, Yamori’s customers benefit from robust and durable sensors, and extended service based on actual measurements. Murata and Sentinum teams’ goal is for Yamori to enable ultra-low power applications from the start. Hence, hardware and software are designed in such a way that very low power consumption is possible, e.g. the latest performance show the sleep mode current measured below 5 uA. As many customers ask for current characteristics – which can easily be derived with Otii Arc – the progress and discussions on the performance are welcomed by the teams.
In a few weeks, Murata and Sentinum will officially release the Yamori development board aiming to tackle the challenges of low-power project implementations.