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Saving the city with SIGFOX: San Francisco edition

 A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to attend the “Connect your City!” hackathon as a mentor in San Francisco. This was an especially exciting event because it was the first roll out of a brand new wireless network here in the U.S., SIGFOX.

When we think about the Internet of Things (IoT) there are many applications out there that it enables. We have connected devices in our homes that utilize Wi-Fi® to connect and wearables that use our phone’s cellular data via Bluetooth® connectivity. For these applications there are many devices from TI that make great connectivity solutions. There are, however, applications where Wi-Fi or Bluetooth are not a good fit. These applications typically are ones that need to operate in remote areas for an extended period of time without user interaction (recharging/changing batteries). Examples of this are infrastructure monitoring or asset tracking. The SIGFOX network is a perfect fit for these applications.

SIGFOX is a low-bandwidth long-distance wireless communication network that uses technology like TI’s long-range Sub-1 GHz technology that extends over 100 km. It operates in the unlicensed ISM bands here in the U.S. What’s revolutionary about this technology is its combination of low-power and long-distance qualities. If properly designed, devices powered off a battery can regularly send messages hundreds of miles while operating for decades! Unfortunately, the teams at the Hackathon didn’t have decades to complete their designs.

The hackathon was a collaboration between TI, SIGFOX and the City of San Francisco. The goal was to build something that would be helpful to the city using SIGFOX’s wireless network and TI silicon. Teams were each given an ultra-low-power MSP430F5529  microcontroller  LaunchPad™ kit, a Sub-1 GHz CC1120-CC1190 BoosterPack™ module for the SIGFOX network and about 36 hours to create their prototype.

Many teams started out by brainstorming their ideas... before the actual hacking started.

And of course, hackers get hungry! Not to worry though, the food was top notch!

When the time was up, the teams had created some amazing prototypes with revolutionary implications. Check out this recap video for more highlights: