Micro Technic

Customer Case: Mesh network connectivity: ‘limitless’ scalability, ultra-low power, minimized installed cost

Danish company, Micro Technic, is using NeoMesh from NeoCortec to add massively-scalable, low power wireless networking capabilities to its Skylark PRO/SECURE+ range of industrial datalogger products in wide-ranging applications

A specialist in Design-for-Manufacturing (DFM), Micro Technic designs IoT solutions for a sustainable world in collaboration with its customers. Originally – and still – a company that offers leading EMS services, Micro Technic has built up an expertise in data-loggers and now offers a range of IoT-enabled intelligent hubs, named Skylark, which intelligently collect data, perform some processing and ensure that results are passed securely on for further analysis and action. 

Explains CEO, Frank Max Laursen: “Micro Technic provides rugged, secure IoT-enabled telemetry systems. Our Skylark Pro and Skylark Secure product lines are much more than a gateway. We operate at the Edge, and provide reliable measurement and data-logging functions for many critical applications such a land-movement in unstable terrains, traffic  monitoring and weather stations.”

Since many of the applications for Skylark are battery or solar powered, low power operation is crucial. This is a key advantage of NeoCortec’s NeoMesh wireless mesh networking systems, which can run on two single AA batteries for up to seven years. However it was a shared philosophy which originally attracted Micro Technic to NeoCortec. Laursen: “We were developing an alarm and evacuation system for a passenger vessel company. We were looking for a wireless networking solution to minimize cost by saving on cables and installation costs.  Like us, NeoCortec believes in wireless solutions, and their NeoMesh solution offers great advantages of massive scalability, ultra-low power and ruggedness, in comparison with other approaches such as LoRa, SigFox, Zigbee or even Bluetooth, all of which we evaluated.” 

NeoMesh is based on a decentralized mesh of self-governing nodes which are not dependent on a network coordinator. All nodes act as routers and none have a special, critical role, so there is no single point of failure which could cause the network to fail if one coordinator were to drop out. The number of nodes possible in one network is 65,000 – as Laursen comments, “effectively the system is limitless; we will never approach that number or nodes”.

In the NeoMesh protocol, each node establishes mutual relations with up to six neighbours. When a message is received by a node it only knows which of its neighbours it should forward the message to, it does not know the entire route. This saves complex routing tables. Dynamic variables influence the next hop so that route is generated on the fly. If one were to trace multiple messages sent between the same two nodes, the messages will not necessarily all follow the same route. If a node should drop out for any reason, the message would be automatically re-routed.

While this approach eliminates the coordinator role and makes for a more rugged network, since all nodes are now acting as routers the challenge is to keep power consumption to a minimum so that years of operation can be achieved using small batteries. To address this power issue,  NeoMesh utilizes highly-accurate time-synchronization between the nodes, allowing nodes to sleep and wake up efficiently only when required. Most of the time the nodes are asleep with their radio connection – the part of the module which consumes most power – turned off. However, at scheduled intervals the radios wake up to  listen for messages and to send messages if required, before going back to sleep again. This can only happen if all nodes are synchronized so that they wake up at the same time. This approach results in an average power consumption of typically only a few 10s of micro amperes, enabling battery powered operation which may be critical for remote, field deployment. 

Skylark PRO is Micro Technic’s most advanced IoT device providing a multi-functional data collection and sustainable solution powered by green energy options. To collect data from multiple external sensors or devices, Skylark PRO has 16 high-precision analogue inputs and 8 digital inputs and outputs. Fast collection of a large amount of data is achieved using a high speed modem (5G / 4G) or WiFi. The IoT data-logger works independently of the customer’s network thanks to built-in integrated wireless connectivity. Skylark SECURE+ takes IoT cyber security to the next level with encryption and keying, and is – claims Micro Technic, ‘the world’s most secure IoT device’. 

“NeoMesh’s ability to easily scale and distribute a massive sensor network over a large, remote area in combination with Skylark’s capabilities ensure that our customers have the ability to gather a huge amount of data at low cost”, comments Laursen. “We are integrating NeoMesh into our products to make it simple for customers to configure Edge telemetry systems for hugely varied applications. In Norway, our systems are used to provide early warnings of avalanches and landslides, in Italy our  systems are used in climate-monitoring for flood control, and in Amsterdam, Skylark is used to control the traffic and to make travelling safer. But we also see applications in smart buildings and even in care homes to protect the elderly. All these deployments need low installed cost, scalability and low power – the precise combination offered by Skylark and NeoMesh.”


Since many of the applications for Skylark are battery or solar powered, low power operation is crucial. This is a key advantage of NeoCortec's NeoMesh wireless mesh networking system

Frank Max Laursen, CEO Micro Technic
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