Michel Hepp, Cofounder & VP Global Sales at BehrTech, explains how extracting data from IoT networks is key to their success, ahead of his session at Sensors & IoT Virtual World Week.
Can you give an overview of BehrTech and its MYTHINGS platform?
MYTHINGS is a wireless IoT connectivity platform, designed for complex industrial and commercial sensor networks. At its core is the MIOTY protocol, the ETSI standard for low-power wide area network (LPWAN). It provides robust, scalable mobile IoT connectivity.
MYTHINGS Central is a network management platform, which makes it easy to manage thousands of devices on MIOTY IoT networks. Control of the network is the key for IoT. You can have lots of devices on one end, and data, AI, machine learning on the other, but if you don’t control the network of the whole eco-system, you don’t really own it.
We’re a third generation LPWAN. Generation one was Sigfox about 10 years ago; generation two was LoRa five or six years ago; generation three is MIOTY. With Sigfox, they have towers and all your data goes through their network; with LoRa, as soon as you start to scale over a hundred devices, you need to either build your own platform or management, or use a third party, and the data goes through that third party.
What we’re seeing is customers and our partners want to run those IoT networks either themselves, or they want to have a partner who’s already part of their ecosystem, run it for them. We let them do that.
What types of organizations are you working with?
We work across a lot of different verticals: large auto manufacturers and lots of different manufacturing, because there are lots of opportunities to put sensors on the shop floor and tie the operational technology to it; property managers like QuadReal, which has done a 43 building rollout across eight cities in Canada; oil and gas; and surprisingly carriers.
Initially we thought carriers would be competitors, but what we’re seeing in oil and gas, especially, is some of the larger LTE or cellular providers for that field have difficulty getting to the last mile. Combining LPWAN and LTE as the backhaul for that, now we have a full coverage model for our customers.
What advantages does your technology offer compared to others on the market?
We offer six primary benefits or differentiators:
- We’re a software-based approach, so you can choose your own transceivers, gateways and application platforms. We’re not tied to a chip set. The Lora Alliance is run by Semtech, which is a chip manufacturer. We think of things as solutions rather than selling chips.
- You can deploy your own campus style network, and avoid the cost and data privacy pitfalls of third-party managed networks.
- The secret sauce is patented technology called Telegram Splitting, which provides unrivalled interference immunity.
- Long battery life – ours is about four times longer than LoRa for sending the same amount of data, and about 16 times better than Sigfox.
- You can aggregate millions of messages a day from thousands of devices using a single base station. One of our base stations in North America can handle 11.5 million messages a day. That’s thousands or tens of thousands of devices on a single base station, and we have this working in factories across Germany, Mexico and the US. In downtown Toronto, we’re covering an entire 55-floor building from the 55th floor into the parking and concourse levels with one single base station, plus 1.5km coverage around the building in a really dense interference environment. For suburban three, four or five-storey buildings, we’re getting about an 8km range.
- You can collect data from moving sensors and gateways at up to 120km/hr. Sigfox is zero, LoRa can handle 20-30km an hour. Airports have fuel trucks, mine sites have conveyor belts with things on they want to track, chemical manufacturers are putting things in chemical tanks and they’re moving around pipes. We’re opening up use cases that people didn’t have before.
How is your technology supporting the latest innovations in smart buildings?
When we talk to customers and look at what’s needed from the beginning, the main comment is – just get me the data. From the various sensors that they have throughout their buildings, those are really the building blocks to drive operational efficiencies, lower operating costs or energy use. Without the ability to collect that data, none of this works and it’s really the missing component when it comes to smart building architecture.
Has the Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on smart building developments?
Preeminent in everybody’s mind now is monitoring the environments for occupant health and wellbeing. Owners are focused on finding technology that helps them immediately.
To re-open facilities safely, there’s an immediate need that used to be a nice to have – air quality – and now it’s a must-have. So deploying sensors for people counting, presence detection, dwell time, consumables need or use are needed right now to reopen buildings safely and manage cleaning protocols, air flow through the entrances, elevators, social distancing management, and also basic things like do I have a supply of soap and sanitizer and paper towels – that’s the immediate need.
But then there’s the economic reality. So how do I put this in and then ensure that I have some value going forward, that I’m not just throwing this out in a year. That same data post-pandemic can also be used longer term to manage traffic flow, save power for lighting if you have people there or not, elevator use, targeted cleaning for management to reduce overall costs. That’s been a big challenge and where we’re focusing.
Can you give us an insight into BehrTech’s strategy going into 2021?
In the past, our focus was a product focus: developing MYTHINGS Central with the guiding principle to make it easy to get data on and off the network, and make it work with existing sensors; from the network side, we built the integration into existing clouds or backends to make it easy to consume the data.
Now we have all of those pieces done, for 2021, our core strategy is moving to a solutions focus. We want to partner with companies who have deep domain expertise and offer solutions to customers. This helps us scale because we can’t be domain experts in every industry.
We’re aggressively going to market with certain solutions, particularly in smart buildings, since we have a bunch of those deployed, and in manufacturing and oil and gas, where we have channel partners that can deliver. Now we’re looking for other domain expertise in other verticals and in specific parts of those areas like oil and gas.
Click here to register for Michel’s session on Friday 11 December from 1:40-2:00pm CET, where he and Wolfgang Thieme, BehrTech Cofounder and CTO, will be presenting on ‘Enhancing Health and Wellness with Innovative IoT and Wireless Connectivity’.
Find out about the full Sensors & IoT Virtual World Week here.