This week, Microsoft, Advantec, and Hitachi sighed a deal with a company called Behr Technologies to bring a new form of low-power networking technology to the industrial manufacturing arena. The standard was developed at the Fraunhofer Institute and is called MIOTY. Behr Technologies is the exclusive licensee of the wireless technology.
But does the industrial internet need a new wireless network? Albert Behr, CEO of Behr Technologies, says yes. He believes that MIOTY offers better scalability and scale than LoRa networks and a lower cost and better performance than low-power cellular networks. Behr declined to share the names of any customers testing the technology, but did emphasize that both Microsoft and Hitachi have tested MIOTY and found it worthwhile enough to build a solution around it.
The MIOTY network is actually based on software and built on commodity hardware. Behr is partial to radios from Silicon Labs for the wireless radios, but says radios from other vendors, such as Bosch or TI, work, too. The software runs on gateway boxes from a variety of vendors, with a smaller version that can run on sensors. The MIOTY technology has been chosen as the European Telecommunication Standardization Institute (ETSI) standard for Low Throughput Networks (LTNs).
And this is a very Low Throughput Network. While MIOTY can transmit up to 1.5 million messages per day within a radius of five to 15 kilometers, it can only transmit 407 bits per second. This sub-kilobit-per-second data rate really limits the amount of data the device can send. The standard does provide excellent energy efficiency, though. According to CEO Behr, sensors using the tech can last up to 20 years in the field.
Behr Technologies has built a company around commercializing the MIOTY standard, but the use cases feel limited. And while support from Hitachi and Microsoft means the tech does work, it’s not clear if companies will rush to adopt it over other low-power options out there, including several proprietary standards designed specifically for industrial use cases, such as Wireless HART.
If Behr starts announcing customers, then I guess we’ll find out.