Gold Coast startup sees IoT potential in wireless mesh network

Levaux targets Internet of Things market with a proprietary wireless mesh technology

Gold Coast based startup Levaux is targeting the burgeoning Internet of Things market with a proprietary wireless mesh technology and associated software that it says provide considerable advantages over standards-based technologies.

The company’s initial implementation of its technology is SenseAgent, a cloud-based building asset management system that uses a network of wireless mesh-connected sensors for lighting, heating and air conditioning control. It enables building managers to monitor and manage their buildings via a web portal.

The company is building Bluetooth wireless into its devices and intends to use this for personnel and device tracking.

“We are at the pre-commercial stage,” Levaux’s marketing manager, Russell Cook, told Computerworld Australia.

“We have two pilot installations, one outside Brisbane that is fully operational and we are in the process of setting up a second one. We are moving into the marketing phase and into sales development and deployment later this year.

“The pilot is doing full lighting control — switching and dimming — and we are developing a full HVAC [heating ventilating and air conditioning] system that will control cooling and heating and that will be regulated autonomously through proximity sensors.

“We also have ‘daylight harvesting’ that adjusts the lighting based on the level of natural lighting to maintain a constant light level and save on energy bills.”

Levaux CEO and founder, Simon Benson, said that one of the key advantages of the Levaux wireless mesh technology over alternatives was its very low latency.

“Most people forget that IoT is not about just getting data, it is about control,” Benson said.

“If you want to do that you need a real-time connection and if there is a delay longer than about 400 milliseconds it is not really live. Consumers are very, very aware of that, and that is what we are focussing on.”

Benson said the company saw more possibilities to exploit its mesh network beyond its initial application: Monitoring and control of lighting.

“Our mission is to get these dense mesh networks into commercial buildings and high-rise residential towers to do the lighting and emergency management and then do tracking,” the CEO said.

“Once the mesh is really dense we can use it for triangulation. We are putting Bluetooth into our sensors so we will be able to track people and things.”

According to Levaux’s website, its first complete cloud-based end-to-end sensor solution was operational in 2013 and it has since refined the technology to become “the market leader for low-latency, highly secure, massively scalable enterprise IoT applications.”

Benson said he had started developing Levaux’s mesh technology, which is based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard for wireless mesh networks, back in 2009.

“I had some interesting problems and was looking around and bought a number of different chipsets and settled on Ember and their mesh networking system, which was based on Zigbee, but after a lot of testing I realised that Zigbee was not going to work,” he said. “So I started writing our own custom mesh to work with the middleware we had.”

Ember was acquired by Silicon Labs in 2012. In mid 2014 Silicon Labs introduced the Thread mesh networking protocol for IoT applications, based on IEEE 802.15.4, and formed the Thread Group with smart thermostat company Nest Labs, Samsung and others.

“Google basically took over Thread and turned it over to open source, and now Thread is similar to what we do,” Benson said.

Despite having a proprietary technology, Benson claimed that SenseAgent’s IoT devices were not significantly more expensive than those based on widely used standards such as Thread.

“We build our own devices using [Silicon Labs’] EM358 series chipsets, with our own firmware. The only additional expense is the firmware, but our great advantages are speed and security, because the protocols we use are not widely known.”

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Tags Networkingwireless networkswireless networkingInternet of ThingsInternet of Things (IoT)

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