A blog post by Maxime Schacht
Business Operations Manager at Sigfox
Sigfox is known for its long range IoT network. It relies currently on active devices, meaning that these devices have batteries to power them.
The 2 cents module introduced during Sigfox Connect will target passive devices. Passive devices are battery less. The energy is coming from an external source through an electromagnetic wave. This is the case of RFID technology for instance. For RFID, the power source is whether called a reader or a gate, and the tag is battery-less. The reader/gate excites the tag to read the information contained within the tag’s memory.
Retail and supply chain industries rely a lot on RFID tags and readers to manage their inventories.
Sigfox’s innovation offers multiple benefits over RFID, on top of being able to be added onto an RFID tag at no extra cost:
– The technology principles are simpler enabling this low cost target of 2 cents.
– The infrastructure will be easier to deploy and maintain, less intrusive and less expensive vs. RFID.
– Longer range. According to Christophe Fourtet, co-founder of Sigfox, it may achieve a 100-meter range, which is a breakthrough for a passive device.
– High Capacity. This is the core of Sigfox protocol, it uses very narrow bandwidth and allows many messages to be sent simultaneously.
It will take about 3 years to Sigfox to industrialize its passive tags and transform its base stations into power sources. The power sources could also be separate units from base stations, whose primary function is to receive (read) information.
Will this 2 cents module replace previous modules enabled by Sigfox? Not at all. It targets different markets than the active tracking devices. Sigfox has first enabled unpowered asset tracking with modules starting from $2, then 20 cents modules for simple and disposable tracking use cases requiring no sensors. It finally goes back to inventory management with this 2 cents one.