The presentation aims to share our experiences gained from working on multiple industrial-academic collaborative projects within the Digital Innovation for Growth (DIfG) regional program. This initiative provided academic expertise to low-resource SMEs. The projects primarily revolved around measuring various process or structural health variables. The subsequent wireless reporting of these results to an online dashboard and generating alert messages when variables exceeded predefined thresholds were central to our work.
Due to the diverse nature of our partners' requirements, there was no one-size-fits-all solution for the considered use cases. We will delve into our utilization and insights regarding various IoT-related tools and technologies. These include ESP32 WiFi-enabled microcontrollers, WiFi Manager, NTP time service, watchdog timers, Adafruit IO dashboards, the Twilio SMS gateway, as well as LoRa modules and networks such as TNT and Helium.
ESP32 microcontrollers were employed when an on-site enterprise WiFi network was accessible. We established a secure connection using the WiFi Manager Arduino library, achieved low-power operation through deep sleep mode with periodic watchdog timer wake-ups, and synchronized time after wake-up using the NTP service. Data was submitted to the Adafruit IO dashboard for storage and presentation. Alerts were implemented using the Twilio online SMS gateway. When a WiFi network connection was unavailable, we resorted to using a LoRa module for data communication. Regrettably, robust communication between the available modules proved elusive, eliminating the possibility of an on-site gateway. Among the two global LoRa networks available (the free The Things Network and the commercial Helium), we established a robust connection with the latter.
By effectively combining these tools and technologies, we successfully completed prototypes that enabled testing of the devices on-site.