It’s by trying to make classrooms in Germany safer during the COVID-19 pandemic that XoverIoT, an ST Authorized Partner, discovered it could reach an entirely new market. By adding a Sigfox module to its existing carbon dioxide detector, the design house realized that many simply didn’t have the expertise, time, or willingness to do what it had done during the global pandemic: take an STM32L051, an S2-LP, and a BALF-SPI2-01D3 balun, run a Sigfox stack, and bring IoT connectivity to products that previously didn’t have any. Hence, XoverIoT (pronounced cross over IoT) decided to work with ST to provide new LoRa or Sigfox modules with an integrated antenna.
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3 Lessons from XoverIoT
1. Cultivate a unique experience
For over ten years, XoverIoT has provided engineering services to companies looking to create embedded systems. It led them to conceive an industrial smart carbon monoxide detector, which was devoid of connectivity at the time. As the ST partner explained, the project gave them unprecedented expertise in an arcane domain. Carbon monoxide detection must meet stringent requirements that affect manufacturing, calibration, and more. Hence, the first lesson we learned from XoverIoT was about the importance of specializing in a field unrelated to IoT itself. Startups, design houses, and entrepreneurs often encounter edge cases or unique problems. It’s by capitalizing on this unique experience that teams can bring value.
2. Learn to use existing solutions
While the idea of connecting the sensor to a cloud wasn’t immediate, it did come soon after. And to tackle it, the engineers at XoverIoT decided to start with ST development tools. They thus grabbed the NUCLEO-L053R8 and the X-NUCLEO-S2868A2 shield. On a side note, teams working in Sigfox’s zones 2 and 3 (Americas, APAC, Japan, South Korea) will want the X-NUCLEO-S2915A1. Engineers at XoverIoT then connected to a Sigfox cloud and studied how it worked. Afterward, they took ST components and schematics and developed a custom design that integrated the antenna. As a design house, they understood how to work with a radio module and tune the necessary components.
3. Adapt to unique circumstances
During the global pandemic, companies contacted XoverIoT to ask how they could measure whether a classroom had sufficient airflow. Contamination drastically increases indoors, especially with poor air circulation. Certain health officials recommend that in a 30-foot by 30-foot (9-meter by 9-meter) classroom with 25 students, “the air should be replaced at least every 15 minutes.” XoverIoT realized that measuring CO2 levels could determine if a room had adequate airflow. Furthermore, IoT connectivity allowed schools to monitor and alert staff and parents to unfavorable situations. It, therefore, created a smart CO2 indicator that emits sound or turns on a light when CO2 levels reach a threshold while using LoRa or Sigfox for cloud connectivity.
3 benefits of the ST Partner Program
1. Solutions that hasten developments
Strengthened by their experience, XoverIoT developed a series of Sigfox verified modems now available from distributors. Some have an onboard chip antenna, while others don’t. Similarly, some models are bidirectional, while others only transmit to the cloud. However, they all use the same STM32L0 MCU, S2-LP transceiver, and ST balun that started XoverIoT’s journey to its LPWAN offerings. The company even took the ST components and created the SIGFOX-USB2-C. The USB stick brings Sigfox connectivity to a laptop, router, or Android smartphone. It thus tremendously facilitates field-testing operations. The ST Authorized Partner also provides a Sigfox software stack and AT commands to hasten development.
2. A network of companies meeting similar challenges
XoverIoT is a use case in the importance of knowing how to get a head start. Companies know they need to get ahead, but too many set wrong priorities that end up slowing releases and demoralizing employees. XoverIoT thus provides an example that can teach others in the STM32 community. In this instance, the design house focused on what it knew to do best and leveraged its expertise in CO and CO2 detection. On the other hand, it used ST components, schematics, and software tools to provide a new hardware and software solution quickly. It’s because the company moved rapidly that it was able to scale its solution and can now expand to adopt LoRa.
3. Partners that fill internal expertise gaps
Getting ahead requires capitalizing on what a company does best. It’s why XoverIoT now offers the products of its expertise, hoping to help others with less knowledge build on their work to add LPWAN connectivity to new platforms. The use case in this blog post also impresses that times to market are increasingly tight. Responding to the global pandemic demanded immediate solutions. The days when engineers could take months or years to design a system are rarer than ever. It thus creates even more pressure and incentives for managers and thought leaders to understand what they are good at, what they should focus on, and what to outsource.