WiTTRA: Unlocking IoT for Robust Applications

3D positioning for indoor, outdoor, and underground applications, all in the same infrastructure

WiTTRA, a technology company focused on IoT, decided to tackle what was previously thought to be impossible: figuring out how to do high-accuracy positioning over narrowband. Today, with more than 70 patents to its name, Wittra is the only company in the world to achieve this and continues to redefine the IoT landscape and solve customer challenges by overcoming the current headwinds within IoT.

For WiTTRA, they believe there are too many proprietary solutions which focus only on one aspect of data collation. Historically, if you needed more data you needed to deploy additional networks. Wittra is game-changing as it offers an IoT infrastructure that allows/encourages the unification of different standards through their unified gateway and allows for third-party sensors to be part of the network through the use of click-on sensor interfaces. Wittra’s unified gateway offers 3D positioning for indoor, outdoor, and underground applications, all in the same infrastructure.

“Historically, if you look at sub gigahertz, it’s very difficult to achieve high accuracy positioning,” explains Håkan Dackefjörd, CCO WiTTRA.

We can do 3D positioning and imaging in areas where there can be difficulty getting a signal – and we do it in a cost-effective manner. We use sub gigahertz to do positioning in very tough environments as no other radio technology can achieve this.

Håkan Dackefjörd CCO WiTTRA

We take care of areas where, for example, cellular or GPS are not the best alternatives, such as deep underground or deep inside buildings in remote areas. In addition to positioning, we offer a vast array of sensors and combine positioning data with sensor data.”

In one deployment of WiTTRA’s unified gateway, you have the possibility of 3D positioning in very tough environments, such as an underground mine in Finland. If that company wanted to install 5G three kilometers underground it may work, but the cost would be prohibitive. WiTTRA offers a solution at a fraction of the cost, and WiTTRA only works with network solutions based on open standards, helping make systems and applications more functional and interoperable, and reducing vendor lock-in for customers, which ensures the long-term viability of the technology investment – giving customers the freedom to choose.

“Many use cases can rely on cellular and GPS connectivity,” explains Håkan Dackefjörd, CCO Wittra. “We offer different options for different customers for different verticals. Mining, for example, has different needs and requirements than an electricity meter in a building. With an electricity meter, you don’t need to set up an infrastructure if you just want to measure usage – any IoT technology, such as NB-IoT is perfect for this. A customer in Germany working with recycling tried GPS and cellular, but when they tried our solution, we were 73% lower in TCO.”

It’s the remote areas, the hard-to-reach areas with tough conditions where the WiTTRA solution combines with cellular connectivity to give the customer the best result. Cellular connectivity comes into the picture in the unified gateway, which is where the Tele2 IoT SIM is installed.

“I think a combination of different IoT technologies is the future. Cellular connectivity offers a backhaul for our unified gateway,” says Håkan Dackefjörd.  “But it’s also clear that cellular connectivity isn’t always the best answer in remote areas. Adding a SIM to every device can be too costly. It is important to remember that the total amount of data that we collect in our unified gateway has to be connected in some way or another up to the cloud. And that is where our customers see the benefit of working with us because we take care of all the data aggregation and make sure it gets to the customer’s cloud or end-user application.

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If we were looking at just the UK or Sweden, we would put a prepared SIM card from Tele2 IoT in the gateway and the customer just needs to open it up and connect, everything works. So again, it’s the combination of different kinds of technology that makes our solution work. We believe unification and collaboration is the way forward for IoT.

Evolving & the future

Technology moves quickly and WiTTRA does as well.  They have recently launched a power meter, for example, that customers just click into the hardware like a claw around a cable. This allows them to measure how much power every machine is using and Wittra can capture the peaks, meaning that in some cases you can significantly lower the power usage >30%. Wittra can also harvest the energy that is leaking from the cable and use that to charge the device attached to the cable.

Customer response

WiTTRA launched its products almost two years ago, and Dackefjörd says the timing was perfect, allowing them to scale quickly.

“We recently deployed a proof of value at a major international airport. they had initially tried Bluetooth, and the set-up took a couple of months – and even more importantly, with Bluetooth, they could only send positioning data. We set up our infrastructure in a single day – and with WiTTRA, the cost was less than 15% of the original Bluetooth installation and our deployment showed them exactly where wheelchairs were and if they were occupied, or where different equipment was for different needs. Our solution can also monitor things like escalators and doors, if a door is open or closed, if the heaters for the airplane are hot, checking waste levels in garbage bins 6 floors into the basement and so much more. We were able to open up a lot of additional applications for them with just one infrastructure at a much more affordable price. We are solving challenges and saving our customers money, while also being able to adapt to their additional future needs. They get the solution that really meets their needs and exceeds expectations.”

Additionally, if a customer already has a platform, they can take WiTTRA’s APIs and connect. The trademarked ‘WiTTRA Apps for IoT’ gives customers total freedom in what they use and how.

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When there is a spike in energy costs you want to control your energy usage.

Håkan Dackefjörd

Dackefjörd goes on to further explain the flexibility of WiTTRA. “Our solutions allow you to spend your money where you need it and save it where you can. So, just say you have a factory and in certain areas, you need decimeter accuracy but in all the other areas it’s OK with a few meters’ accuracy. Most solutions would require you to deploy hardware to meet the decimeter accuracy requirement across the whole site. But why pay for that type of accuracy everywhere when you don’t need to? Instead, the WiTTRA approach allows you to attach our UWB (ultra-wideband) click-on and deploy a decimeter device and infrastructure only in the areas that need it, lowering your costs and reducing installation time.”

WiTTRA also offers a click-on device for a Modbus for industrial standards. This means customers can hook up any Modbus to WiTTRA’s hardware, making it wireless and transferring the data to the unified gateway with connectivity from Tele2 IoT.

“Working with Tele2 IoT has been great, with really good support, which is important to us,” says Håkan Dackefjörd. “We are the only ones offering this type of solution, but even though we have more than 70 patents, people will go where the business is, which is why we need strong cooperation with companies like Tele2 IoT – we all need that cooperation to scale fast.”

“IoT is a young industry and what we are doing is trying to take away the silos and unify everything, which further unlocks IoT.  We are unifying the technology – but also unifying with 5G offering a complete end-to-end approach to the market.”

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