In September, over 1,500 of the world’s top IoT professionals will travel to Amsterdam for The Things conference. We live in a world where all other devices are becoming connected devices. As we see everything from a small sensor to a vacuum cleaner to our car, it is also necessary to have a protocol that makes this possible.
The Things conference serves as the anchor for LoRaWAN®, the Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery-operated devices to the Internet. The LoRaWAN specification also addresses key Internet of Things (IoT) requirements such as two-way communication, end-to-end security, mobility, and location services.
Every industry has its own must-attend event. If the Mobile World Congress is an unmissable event for telecommunications and network professionals, then The Things Conference is an unmissable event for an IoT professional. The Thing conference wants to chart the way forward for the connected device industry and its success seems plausible.
A conference like no other
The Things conference shows the harsh reality of the world we live in right now. Although the COVID-19 pandemic is not affecting us as it did in 2020, the pandemic is not yet in the rearview mirror.
The Things conference is taking place both in Amsterdam and online. Wienke Giezeman, CEO of The Things Industries, said the physical event was “welcomed with unique content planned for in-person attendees.” The physical event will also allow the LoRaWAN community to interact with partners, access hands-on workshops, and interact with devices in real time.
“The virtual portion of The Things Conference will have its own unique content tailored to the online communication format. We understand that there are still different restrictions regarding Covid-19 in different countries, and as our audience comes from all continents of the world, we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to visit the conference,” adds Giezeman.
In his final stage of preparation, Giezeman said The Things Conference had reached a 120% partnership milestone and 60 partners would join the conference. One area where The Things Conference is unlike any other is its unique showcase called the “Wall of Fame”.
This physical wall showcases devices, including LoRaWAN-enabled sensors and gateways, and this year, The Things Conference will see even more device manufacturers showcasing their devices.
If that doesn’t sound interesting, then Giezeman says they’re planning something never done before at an event. In partnership with Microsoft, The Things Conference will feature the world’s largest digital twin. This digital twin will cover the entire event space and its surroundings, approximately 4357 m².
Visitors to the conference, both in person and online, will be able to view data sent by sensors placed around the venue and be able to interact through an AR app. Impressive will be an understatement to describe this experience.
Flagship event for Amsterdam’s leadership as a smart city
The Things conference isn’t just about the LoRaWAN protocol or all the companies building connected devices on it. It is also about Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, which is leading the way as a smart city in Europe. Giezeman says Amsterdam is in a unique position as a smart city that empowers citizens.
He cites an example from meetjestad.nl, where citizens measure microclimates and more. The smart city project puts the power of sensory data in the hands of the Dutch. Amsterdam is already the largest startup ecosystem in the European Union and at The Things conference attendees will see how technology is used by SMEs.
“The conference will showcase technology used by SMEs for different operational efficiency applications such as measuring food temperature to enable compliance,” says Giezeman.
The physical event will take place on September 22 and 23 at Kromhouthal in Amsterdam and the event ticket gives attendees access to the live conference, workshops, keynotes and organized networking. The Things conference also celebrates its fifth anniversary this year.
“We have prepared a lot of exciting content for anyone who wants to evolve with the IoT,” says Giezeman. “This edition will focus on finding all the right tools to bring a digital transformation strategy to your boss on Monday after the event. and get the right hardware based on your needs.
Wall of Fame and Digital Twin
At this year’s The Things conference, Giezeman said the Wall of Fame will feature devices and gateways from more than 100 device manufacturers. With 1,500 people expected at the in-person event, attendees will have the opportunity to get their hands on different IoT hardware, interact and even view all device information via a dedicated QR code.
“The Wall of Fame is a great place to find the right sensor for your needs,” says Giezeman.
However, the biggest draw might be the digital twin we mentioned earlier. Tech companies have built digital twins as a way to augment the real-world environment into a digital world. Digital twins help us make informed decisions by interacting with the product and validating it before the next stage of development or the customer journey.
By setting up the world’s largest digital twin around the conference venue and its surroundings, The Things Conference is making a statement. The digital twin will exchange data in real time with the buildings to which it is physically connected.
Giezeman adds, “The Things Stack (our core product – LoRaWAN Network Server) integrates directly with Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twin platform and allows you to connect and visualize data as a 2D or 3D experience.
3D visualization of data from hundreds of sensors placed at the event will be “the most successful and informative way to showcase digital twins via AR”. Conference visitors will be able to see live data transmitted from hundreds of sensors around the conference venue, interact with it through the app, and learn a lot about the devices that way.
A connected future
With the arrival of 5G, there is now a growing intention to connect anything and everything. However, Giezeman finds this notion of “wanting to connect everything in the world” to be frightening. He finds it more logical to connect objects and sensors, either based on value or based on a business use case.
The Things conference is primarily aimed at bringing the LoRaWAN community together and envisioning the future of the protocol. However, it is also about nurturing the philosophy that makes up the LoRa and LoRaWAN ecosystem. Giezeman sees “ever-increasing maturity” as the most important thing for a smart, responsible connected future.
With LoRaWAN, it is possible to build such an ecosystem by building the whole solution yourself. The protocol is so user-friendly that a device purchased 7 years ago will work on a gateway purchased today and vice versa. Giezeman says LoRa and LoRaWAN are remarkable because all developments are rooted in use cases and not in core technology.
Asked about use cases, he says that many ESG-related use cases are emerging. “In fact, almost every use case is about business process efficiency. And 90% of the time, that’s directly related to less resource consumption and less carbon emissions. The future of LoRa is therefore efficiency and sustainability,” says Giezeman.
Watch our interview with Paul Down, Head of Sales at Intigriti.