‘Things Conference’ is a five-day global event that takes place every year. This year (2021), the event took place virtually because of the COVID-19 Pandemic situation. Numerous sessions with great speakers and companies showing off their products and services made the event successful and intriguing. It has got a great response!
We were lucky to have been able to catch up with Mr. Wienke Giezeman, who is the CEO and Co-founder of the Things Network. We appreciate the fact that he took out time from his busy schedule and joined us in the middle of the ‘The Things Conference – 2021’ to have a brief talk with the Circuit Digest team. You can also check out The Thing Conference 2021 opening keynote, to hear about all the exciting announcements made in the event.
We asked him about the Things Network and its impact on the LoRaWAN community, how the Things Network has evolved over the years, what are its future plans, and much more. You can check the video below for his answers or scroll down for the summary.
Q. Give us a brief intro on the Things Industries, the Things Network, and the Things Conference for the beginners to be able to differentiate between these.
In general, we provide services to help you build your LoRaWAN network by building a new network management software. Our vision is to bring to gather, a lot of different partners, ecosystem players, developers, and companies to be focusing on what they're good at and making that work together with open standards and being interoperable; in that way delivering the end-user complete solutions or allowing developers to build complete solutions. Our mantra from the start was let's build the Things together! At Things Network, we have a large community and the Things conferences give you all our open source and open tools online to build the applications. Taking that further, if you want to scale that or you want to have more professional services, you can go to the Things Industries.
Q. What is Things Stack and where does it fit into the LoRaWAN Ecosystem?
The Things Stack is a piece of software that runs and operates on a network. It manages the gateways, manages the security, and manages the devices. It's at the core of what we do. We launched a new product, where we started by having global roaming for LoRaWAN by design, and you would share your gateway. And now it's also possible to share an entire network that runs on the Things Stack, which is network management, a piece of software. The Things Stack is open source. There is also an enterprise version for companies and it connects to what we call the packet broker, which is the central roaming and peering LoRaWAN exchange that makes sure that you can collaborate and connect your networks all across the world.
Q. How has the coverage of The Things Network (TTN) evolved over these years, how many gateways are currently linked with TTN, and how many transactions are you handling?
In five years, we have grown to 30,000 gateways that we operate. We have now almost 40,000 developers on the platform, and we have 800,000 devices registered. All in all, we route more than 600 messages per second, which is an immense amount, it goes into the 10s of billions per year, and is growing at 100% base every half year. The traction is enormous. What is interesting about the data point of these messages per second is that these are actual devices sending some data to the cloud. This is when it all comes together. This is a very interesting market area, and this gives us a lot of motivation to keep doing what we're doing.
Q. From a geographic point of view, which place has the most coverage for TTN? From which region do you think people are actively registering their gateways?
Europe and the US have the biggest activity, apart from that we also have a lot of activity in Tokyo in Australia. In Europe, we operate the largest network in the UK and Germany. What's interesting is that we share in our opening keynote is that LoRaWAN is active in a lot of different geographies, in a lot of different industry segments, and because of this distribution, it's actually showing that it’s able to handle the immense fragmentation and diversity that the IoT market brings and that the spread is very diverse.
Q. What according to you are the hurdles that are still preventing the adaption of LoRaWAN into its potential applications?
There is still a lot of work to be done. There are certain segments and certain device makers and application makers haven't been able to get these systems up to a quality that you can put it in a market at scale. And that's the point where we're at. We have shown that we can scale in certain segments and then you will see segments like agriculture, smart building facility management industry, that more and more players can deliver these high-quality products. During our conference, we've announced a few things to help companies innovate faster and skill faster. For instance, we have launched a device for boilerplate, which gives you everything you need from a LoRaWAN device, and then you can extend it with your own sensors in your own hardware application.
Everything has received massive interest from the market because it also has some very unique features like firmware updates, secure provisioning, etc. We also help companies scale faster. We have launched a service, which is a global installation service together with a partner that's capable of installing many gateway and sensor sites around the world. Every year, we focus on what’s holding back the next growth phase and how can we implement that.
Q. Which market do you think has leveraged the capabilities of LoRaWAN to its maximum potential? Any such examples from your experience so far?
There's quite an uptake in the agriculture segment. We see a lot of applications going on, we have customers that track cows, we have customers that measure the moisture of soil and plan irrigation, etc. There are a lot of activities taking place in these segments and then, of course, you see that in the smart building market, buildings are retrofitted with all kinds of sensor applications.
Q. How did the Virtual Things Conference for 2021 go? What are some of the disrupting announcements made during this conference?
There is new network management software at Things Stack where it is easy for you to manage LoRaWAN applications, networking, and security. Next is the packet broker, which allows multiple networks to connect and pair and if you like, you can also implement a business model on top of that. Third, we announced the generic note, which is an IoT boilerplate for LoRaWAN devices and it comes with all the features you need from a LoRaWAN device.
Mr. Wienke Giezeman also told us about more updates coming up online and that the users can check out the opening keynote. He also told us that there will be six more conferences coming up this year, you can stay tuned in and join!