The Things Network community is on a mission to crowdsource a global open and independent Internet Of Things network
Just a few months ago we managed to cover the entire city of Amsterdam with a new type of wireless network using a technology called LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide-area network). The network was build, from the bottom up, by people like you.
When we started spreading the word about our first crowd sourced internet of things data network in Amsterdam, we got an astonishing response from the global IoT community. Within a few days, groups and companies from Sao Paulo, London, Paris, Sydney, Boston, Manchester, and many more were showing interest in the concept, actively starting open LoRaWAN projects using technology from The Things Network.
This was our proof that an open, global and crowd sourced Internet of Things data network is possible. Not only that, but we did show that we can deploy with an unprecedented speed.
To accelerate this rapid growth even further, and to support our global teams, we have decided to design our own equipment that can help build the network for 20% of the cost compared to other products currently on the market. Both the network’s hardware and software will be open source.
We use Kickstarter to make the products more easily available to our community, backers and everyone else around the world who supports our vision and would like to make their hometown a smart city.
Find out how many people you could be impacting by placing The Things Gateway in your home here.
To help you make the most of this open network, we are offering the following hardware:
The Things Gateway
The main building block of the network. Small, easy to install, it essentially is a router between the things and the internet. With it you are creating the most substantial aspect of your connected city’s network.
About 20% of the cost of any currently available LoRaWAN gateway
Provides up to 10 km / 6 miles radius of network coverage
Connects easily to your WiFi or Ethernet connection
Security through the https connection and embedded in the LoRaWAN protocol
Runs on open hardware
Contains GPS to determine the gateway’s location and node's location later
Can serve up to 10,000 nodes
One of our BETA test gateways in action.
The Things Uno
A network is nice, but how about some device to connect it with?
Imagine an Arduino Uno with LoRaWAN connectivity. We thought we are using one of the most popular microcontrollers and make it LoRaWAN ready for you to prototype with.
Upgrade your existing Arduino project and make it wireless with up to 10 km range. How far is your home away from your office? Compatible with Arduino IDE and existing shields. Includes connections for an optional external antenna on the breakout circuit to maximize the range.
Will be shipping pre-loaded with our open source LoRa library, which is also freely available on GitHub.
Oh, and we are collaborating with 3D Hubs for a awesome 3d printable enclosure for your Uno right over here.
Things Uno with external antenna and 3D hubs printed enclosure!
The first batch UNO's, these are being tested in the field right now!
The Things Node
A matchbox full of sensors, a light and a button. Show off, or just connect this bunch of sensors to your IFTTT account – it is up to you. It is perfect for the prototyping of use cases without the need for programming skills.
The Node includes:
Waterproof (IP54) casing
3 AAA batteries supplying power for over a year of usage.
The Node is a versatile device to test or build plug’n’play Internet of Things features. Easy set up as an IFTTT node through our intuitive web interface.
Open source / Open hardware
We believe in Open Source. From the firmware running on the devices up to the hardware designs and casings. We believe that opening this up to the community will benefit us all.
The Kickstarter pledges will pay for design, hardware production, software, backend software and shipment, regulation compliance testing, community and customer management and project documentation so you can see what we are up to.
LoRaWAN – A new technology optimized for connectivity of things
All this is enable by a technology called LoRa. LoRa is a low energy, low bandwidth, long range (over 10km / 6 miles) wireless technology and uses an open data frequency. As we are setting up the network together there is no need for an operator. This amazing technology allows for things to talk to the internet without 3G, WiFi or Bluetooth. No wifi codes, heavy battery usage or worse, monthly subscriptions needed.
The technology was standardized by the LoRa Alliance and is a result of a collaboration between IBM and chipmaker Semtech. LoRaWAN is currently active on different open frequencies. Most popular are the 868MHz, the 915MHz and the 433MHz. We make a specialised version of every device according to where they will be shipped to.
Do not worry, we will reach out to you after the campaign to check which frequency your devices need to be based on your local requirements.
The technology is currently enrolled in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and South Africa. All by larger telecommunication corporations. To make this an open network with no subscriptions we propose a decentralized, crowdsourced alternative to telcos. And to get there we need affordable and open, hardware.
We already have made working betas. Check out this video of the hardware on our workbench:
How secure is this?
Data security and privacy are an essential element of the internet of things and should be taken into account within every aspect of the network architecture: from the nodes to the application server. LoRaWAN uses AES encryption on both the network and the application level using 128 bit keys, with the network keys being unique per node and the application keys being secret. The Things Network offers end-to-end encryption from the nodes to the application server in the scenario where application developers use the Foundation’s hosted routing mechanism and on-premise data handling and decryption.
How hard is it to set up?
The Things Gateway, Node and Uno work out of the box. The Things Network has an easy to use development service available for you to connect to your devices. We are building this so that you should be able to set it up with no help from us.
How does the backend work?
The Things Network community provides open source components for routing and handling of data which is fully compliant with the LoRaWAN 1.1 specification. The two core components in the network architecture are The Things Router and The Things Handler. Packets received from nodes are forwarded from the gateways to one or more Routers as configured by the gateway owner. The Things Gateway is pre-configured with the default Router hosted by the Foundation for plug-and-play deployment. The Routers publish the packets on their built-in MQTT broker. The Router contains MQTT topics for both uplink and downlink packets.
The Handlers receive packets from Routers by subscribing to, and send data to Routers by publishing to their MQTT brokers. Handlers are responsible for message integrity checking, decryption, deduplication, buffering, transformation and dispatching to application servers. The Handler contains Node RED to handle deduplicated and decrypted data and supports custom processing, also using MQTT publishing. The Handler contains built-in integrations with existing internet of things cloud platforms, including IBM Bluemix, AWS IoT, FIWARE, Parse.com, IFTTT and OpenSensors.io.
For your smart city, innovation campus and everybody else
At The Things Network, we believe with this project we are taking a big step towards a truly connected future for all devices. We think it has never been easier or cheaper to cover large areas or great distances and we just made it cheaper and easier to use through our accessible and plug’n’play approach to software and hardware design.
And it will be available to everyone. Now is the time to build an internet from the ground up, owned and operated in a decentralised way by its very users.
This is your low-barrier chance to get started with any smart city initiatives. All major cities around the world have this on the agenda and you can have access to it with a simple pledge.
We provide educational packages for universities and schools, complete with teaching materials. A The Things Network community manager will help you set it up, if required.
As a hacker space this is an easy and fun way to get started with LoRa. We are creating license-free courses on our GitHub account, that can help you create workshops.
Our Node means you don’t have to have any programming or hardware knowledge to set up your prototype or business idea. LoRa is also a very competitive solution, if you need your own network.
Inspiration for some projects you can build
Have a look at the list of pledges we created. If you have any particular idea on a special set of devices that makes a better pledge, let us know, we can be flexible.
Everything you see in our graphics, photos and videos is based on previously designed prototypes and working small-batch produced devices. The aim of this campaign is to start mass-producing the next version of these devices. Both us and our partners have years of experience producing and mass-producing software and hardware products.
These products are a joint effort between Tweetonig and The Things Network.
The Tweetonig Team
Tweetonig is a product development agency with a lot of experience bringing connected products to mass production. The senior team working on this project are: John – general lead, Dimer – plastics engineer, Sven – embedded system engineer, Maurits – software lead and Diderik – open innovation consultant.
Tweetonig has created mass-produced products like the Glimworm iBeacons and Tuna Knobs DJ Gear, which have already sold worldwide. Now they are bringing their know-how, production and design expertise to The Things Network products.
Johan and Wienke during the launch conference of the network in Amsterdam
The Things Network was founded by Wienke as initiator and Johan as technical lead. Together with the community, they have developed the backend software running on the servers. Find out more about our amazing community here. Johan Stokking has previous expertise by running a sport time tracking company and Wienke Giezeman is a social internet entrepreneur. He successfully founded a video on demand startup (which was sold to a large publisher) and founded Startups for Net Neutrality as an internet freedom activist.
So that’s our Kickstarter project. Please contribute if you can, or tell your friends and colleagues about this exciting project and even if you can’t contribute, we would love to hear from you.
Risks and challenges
LoRa WAN development:
We are already working on LoRa even before the standard was out there. So the team knows what they are doing. Also, all things shown in the video or in the pictures do work. There are off course numerous ugly looking prototypes we kept in the shadow as well. And to make sure we are in the loop for coming changes we will become a member of the LoRa alliance network.
From earlier products we developed for customers we have a wide network of strong manufacturing, assembly and distribution partners. That being said in product development there is always a risk involved. We do our best to manage those risk while putting these high-tech products through production. Our shipment dates are targets and while we are sure we can meet them, they are still estimates. We will prove continues updates to give all backers a better understanding of the progress.
Component availability and FCC compliant:
Till now LoRa WAN chips are still hard to buy in larger quantities and getting normal radio circuits through FCC regulations to make sure they are consumer safe is even harder. To make sure we can manage we found a great partner that produces these chips ready with FCC approval. This makes sourcing these chips easier and helps us to get these products to you asap.