Battery power has been one of the challenges that the Carelink hardware team (Uninova) has been trying to solve. It is critical that a tracking device will maintain power during a wandering incident to ensure that a loved one can be located. Some high profile wandering situations have underlined the fact that even devices considered by today’s standards to have a good battery life would not suffice in extreme situations where a person may be missing for more than a day. Additionally, a person with dementia and their carer may forget to charge a device before an excursion.
The Uninova team has analysed a range of the relatively new low power networking protocols including LoRa, Sigfox, NB-IoT and LTE-Cat 1. Battery power becomes a non-issue when these protocols are deployed with an energy life of up to ten years possible in some cases. These protocols offer a range of other advantages including tracking ranges that significantly extend beyond the ranges of existing geolocation solutions achieved through cellular networks today. Furthermore, these technologies propose to enable better indoor penetration enabling the detection of a person within a building, which is not possible with current GPS solutions. Coverage in more remote locations is not good. The Carelink is working towards a multi-faceted offering that can switch between low-energy solutions and more power hungry alternatives only when needed.
Telcos are in the process of deploying these technologies. Some companies such as Altice have already done so and Uninova is exploring NB-IoT data connectivity options and collaboration through a MoU arrangement. There is some uncertainty with Telcos as to which protocol they will select as they wait to see what will be popular with hardware providers who in turn are waiting to see what the mobile network providers will offer.
While the exact form of the final solution remains to be fully defined, there is excitement in the team that significant inroads can be made into solving the challenge of battery life on tracking devices.