In this blog we examine how a collaboration between 4 companies led to a successful development of a massive IoT product for Workplace Occupancy monitoring.

Ottawa (Canada) based IoT solutions provider RedLore built a Workplace Occupancy IoT solution for one of the world’s leading Workplace Occupancy specialists, RedLore’s customer. Wirepas, based out of Tampere (Finland) provides the low-power wireless mesh communication. The IoT solution is built around the Nordic nRF52832 SoC.

Figure 1: Workplace Occupancy Dashboard

RedLore’s customer is an expert in Workplace Occupancy Monitoring. Some of the world’s largest corporate real estate organizations depend on their workspace analytics platform and industry expertise to help evolve their global real estate portfolio with confidence.

 RedLore’s customer’s Analytics Platform offers cloud-based data visualizations that provide accurate and actionable insight into office space utilization. IoT devices underneath each desk integrate several sensors, the signals of which are combined to accurately assess whether a person is present.

For IoT specialist RedLore selecting the right IoT technology was paramount to allow the application to scale to thousands of devices in a single building, run for years on a battery and the ability to remotely and wirelessly upgrade the devices to enable new features.

Figure 2: Wireless Occupancy Detection Sensor

IoT solutions builder RedLore selected the Wirepas low-power mesh communication technology from a list of more than 30 IoT communication technologies which also included ZigBee and Bluetooth. A key decision factor for the Wirepas mesh was that all sensor devices can route messages for other devices to bridge long distances to a gateway and can do so while operating for years on a minimal energy budget. Niek Van Dierdonck, CEO of RedLore, comments: “We found that the tandem Wirepas mesh and nF52 SoC not only fit the technical needs, but also presented a mature platform that was optimized to be simple and reliable to build solutions upon. It allowed us to go from a paper specification to a certified product in only 4 months”.

Figure 3: Real-time occupancy monitoring

RedLore’s Sensor Analytics Wizard (SAW) was used to develop the occupancy detection algorithms locally on the IoT device itself rather than following the traditional path of pushing all the raw sensor data to the gateway or the cloud and run the algorithms there. The major advantage of local sensor analytics is that the low-power devices needn’t send out messages in case there is no change in occupancy status. Thanks to the smaller volume of messages in the network the network can grow larger and the device’s battery lasts longer.

At present tens of thousands of devices have been deployed in the field, with the largest installation comprising of more than 3000 devices. RedLore’s customer’s CEO adds: “The added benefit of the RedLore/Wirepas IoT combination is that we can gradually add new uses cases and applications to existing installations because the occupancy sensors form a backbone network. HVAC monitoring and environmental monitoring are the obvious candidates our customers wish to deploy”.

As the installation partners of RedLore’s customer can often only install at night and in weekends, the installation has to be quick and first time-right. To this end RedLore’s customer is using RedLore’s Sensor Installation App. It uses the Near-Field Communication interface of the nRF52832 to commission devices in the field. Network and device configuration parameters are sent to the device. At the same time the installation location of the device is uploaded in real-time to the dashboard.