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Some of you may have seen a tweet about the LoRa challenge sponsored by "l'Usine Digitale", Orange and "Objenious by Bouygues Telecom" hosted by "L'Usine IO" taking place on January 17th & 18th 2017 in Paris.

If you did, that's great (it means people actually read tweets and what they are about!),

if not here is a link about the LoRa IoT Challenge (there are many other links but mostly in French, but thanks to Google Translate I'm sure you will find some interesting lecture out there).

Christian Schmitt and I joined our forces with "Hear & Know", a French startup that specialize in localization device that doesn't require any GPS signal and Sopra.

The challenges (and ours)

The proposed challenges themes were:

  • Smart-Agri: prevent agricultural risk (proposed by Groupama, French insurer)

  • Smart-Cities: improve the monitoring and management of the power grid (proposed by Schneider Electric)

  • Smart-Mobility: improve driver’s safety and help streamline traffic (proposed by Colas)

We however decided to go off the tracks, and proposed an alternate challenge which was accepted by the jury:

  • Smart-"just smart": improve Alzheimer patient safety (I just came up with the name while writing so I'm the one to blame...)

Our motivations and objectives

First let me describe some of the motivations behind this project:

  • 55.4 million patients in 2016 (around 1 million in France), 135 million in 2050

  • 60% of patients will face a "wandering" scenario at least once, where after 24h only 46% are being found alive

This means that we all have or will have someone in our families and friends who will be affected somehow.

Now some of the constraints we wanted to tackle during our project that are not currently addressed by the market and the devices available out there:

  • low energy

    • we cannot expect the device to be recharged every other day or week

    • the battery as small as possible and the device life span must be brought to it maximum

  • network/communication range

    • the system must work outside the comfort zone like the house or the hospital,

    • it cannot rely on traditional GSM network as it become more and more saturated

  • localization:

    • traditional GPS signals are not always available and sometime not really precise

    • moreover, they are usually a lot of energy (just think of your phone)

  • size:

    • many devices are not that small

    • it should ideally be embeddable into a wallet, a belt a hat or shoes insole

  • multi-purpose and extensible

    • we can imagine collect other information than the location like the current weather condition if needs be to send reminder like to hydrate themselves

Our team

Here is our team:

From left to right, Justine & Frederic from Sopra, me & Christian from SAP and Joseph and Jean-Philippe from Hear & Know.

First thing I may need to do is to explain what is LoRa.

What is LoRa & the LoRaWAN?

LoRaWAN™ is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification intended for wireless battery operated "Things" in a regional, national or global network.

LoRaWAN targets key requirements of Internet of Things such as secure bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services.

For more details, you can check the following link:

So, you can imagine the possibilities, especially when your device consume not much energy and provide you the ability to not only send but receive data or instructions!

Our Use Cases

Before starting coding and hacking the LoRa kits, we had find the uses case that we wanted to demonstrate, and of course do some planning around who is doing what, organize the sync points etc.
If you are familiar with Hackathons, you know the drill already (even though I don't think we have a blog about how to run your hackathon at SAP... I just found a new topic for my next blog! :-)).

And what is better that a long paragraph of explanation than a diagram? A nice and simple diagram!

And here are some "traditional textual" details about our solution for the first use case:

  • the device (let's call it this way for now, I will show you how it looks like) has a single button

  • when the button is pressed it sends a payload over the LoRaWAN network to the operator platform

  • the operator platform forward the payload to the SAP HANA Cloud Platform IoT Service using the IoT MMS REST APIs.

  • the IoT MMS application stores the messages in a HANA MDC instance hosted on HCP.

  • an application (to be developed) will:

    • push the alerts to the relevant user only (privacy is something really important at SAP)

    • display the alert on a map including some other sensor information (temperature, humidity etc.)

    • allow you to connect with the relevant parties (neighbors, doctor, nurses, emergency services etc.) to organize an intervention

and for the second use case:

  • we consider the use of multiple devices for a single user

  • the devices are embedded into any piece of clothing or any personal effect

  • the device will report its position on a periodical basis based on the fact that movement was detected (no need to transmit unnecessary data).

  • an application will raise and push alerts based on:

    • a set of predefined routes or areas the user is supposed to be at certain times

    • a set of algorithms & predictions that will help determine if the current location is considered as unusual (by using more granular details like periodical events, location types like grocery stores or bakery etc...)

And just like at any "all-you-can-eat" restaurant, your eyes are always bigger than your stomach when you think you can deliver it all in 48h! But again if you are used to hackathon you know it will happen, and you need to get ready for unexpected event like the internet connectivity going down, or running out of coffee!

The Solution we built

First I need to tell you that we started from scratch, we did have the LoRa kits or even knew what they would look like (they provide the size of the board but I think got confused between inches and centimeter or something like that).

This confirm what I learned from previous similar events:

"be prepared for the unexpected!"

And the fact that there is usually not much need to build "too much" things in advance as you might be able to use them anyway.

So let's talk about our solution and the devices we used.

The device

Here is the device we used for this event: the SAGEMCOM Siconia

We chose this one because it was "packaged" and had the button. And here is a view when it is "unpackaged" where the battery uses all the space:

We also played with the Objenious Airboard kit:

and the Orange board:

It wasn't that complex to use the operator's platforms to transfer the data back the IoT MMS services on HCP, we just need to tweak the transferred payload format a little so we could inject it directly into HANA.

The application

With my SAPUI5 background, I was naturally assigned to this task for which I managed to incorporate the data provided by the IoT devices on a map provided by

And here are a few screenshots of the what I was able to accomplish:



As you may have understood, we didn't finish on the podium... 😞 or it would be all over the web already!

But we managed to raise a lot of interest from the sponsors and the partners around the "Hear & Know" sensor and SAP technology around IoT.

Here are some thoughts about this particular event and hackathons in general:

  • I think I'm getting addicted to Hackathon!

    • I don't think my wife will like it!

  • "be prepared for the unexpected!"

    • internet, water, coffee, power supply, power extensions etc. all these little things might be missing or not working well for some reason

  • plan before you start

    • it's not because it's only 48h that you don't need a clear plan with periodic checkpoints

  • you can plan big, but make sure you have something tangible and visible to show

Stay tuned for my next post which will most likely be something like:

  • How to build an end to end IoT solution with one of those kit, HCP, maps, spatial and predictive

  • Competing in hackathons with SAP