Connect luggage to Sigfox and travel with peace of mind!

The brand, Delsey has revived the adventures of a son touched by the disappearance of his explorer father in a beautiful animated film. This moving story features a very different type of suitcase. It’s an IoT suitcase that can be tracked.

This is also a service being offered by Louis Vuitton using an LV Pass that inserts a small black box into some of its luxury range of luggage.

But who is behind this black box?

The main challenges in this area are being able to accommodate most standard radio frequencies and to be energy self-sufficient for a number of weeks (6 months in the case of Louis Vuitton). In fact, due to regulatory requirements, the radio frequencies used vary from one country to another and the consumption of standard WiFi transmitters is much too great. New technology must be adopted by everyone who would like to be able to geotag their luggage (or travelling objects). That’s why, since 2014, the French start-up, Sigfox has been battling to establish its standards in a global market. It is obviously not alone in the market but the company has already achieved 50 million euros of turnover with about 5 million items connected to its system by the end of 2018 (we’re talking about all types of connected objects here, not just luggage).

The extensive network market with low consumption and low bandwidth is directly linked to the explosion of object connectivity. Among other key alternative players are LoRa (Long Range), another French technology acquired by the American company, Semtech, then Neul, developed by the Chinese company, Huawei as well as NB-IoT technology derived from mobiles.

So how does it work?

Let’s remind ourselves that IoT connections are bidirectional which means that an object not only sends information to the server but also receives it. This information is provided in small quantities that require very low bandwidth, unlike, for instance, Wifi required for smartphones. Finally, information can be sent at any time and more specifically it can be sent at irregular times with long interval periods. It is therefore a very low-cost and energy saving network.

There are still some problems

However, there are still some problems to overcome to impose these new long-range networks in the world of object connectivity. In the first place, bidirectionality is actually quite difficult to introduce and the solutions chosen by Sigfox or LoRa do not allow two-way simultaneous communication. Secondly, for these networks as for other technologies currently in place, there is the problem of moving objects such as cars, bikes or even objects being carried by a pedestrian moving around a city. Signals transmitted on these networks are indeed longer (by about a second) and are sometimes cut in half if their wavepaths encounter obstacles (for example bypassing a building). In this case, the receiver has trouble piecing the elements together into a single information signal. These are the main drawbacks of using radio frequency to communicate.

That’s why key players are already approaching telecom service providers to be able to use future 5G technology. Our luggage is certainly connected but the adventure is not over yet!

To read on the same subject:LoRa and Sigfox take on the world!