Blog February 13, 2020

Wireless vs. Truly Wireless Concrete Sensors

What’s the difference?

The ever-increasing demand for projects is starting to nudge the construction industry further towards adopting new technologies, one of them being wireless concrete sensors. These devices allow you to – as their name suggests – wirelessly measure specific parameters of your concrete slabs, avoiding any excess time spent on frequent lab testing.

But believe it or not, not all wireless concrete sensors are built the same. There are varying degrees of the term “wireless” that hold true for a lot of the options available on the market. From a technological standpoint, the term “wireless” refers to any communication or data transfer that doesn’t use a physical wire as the transmission medium. But there’s a big difference between a device being wireless and truly wireless. 

To explain this better, let’s look at a common IoT (Internet of Things) product that’s taken the consumer market by storm and has been the catalyst for the boom of “smart home” technology over the last few years: smart lights. 

Conventional Smart Lights vs. IoT Smart Lights

Most smart lighting systems either operate over Bluetooth or over your home’s WiFi network. Bluetooth lights usually come in the form of desk lamps or accent lights and – since Bluetooth is a low-range network – can only be controlled if you’re physically close to them. This isn’t a problem if you live in something like an apartment or condo, but its limitations become more prevalent if you try and scale it up to a larger space.

An internet-based system, on the other hand brings far more flexibility to the table, allowing you to not only control your lights from anywhere in your house but also – providing you give the system the right permissions – from virtually anywhere on the globe. All you need is an internet connection. 

The advantages of an IoT smart lighting system doesn’t just end at its easy accessibility for the end user. Advanced software and artificial intelligence allow you to set up quick routines and automation sequences based on information that’s gathered from your phone. Plus, since most home internet routers are designed to support up to 250 devices across a pre-allocated bandwidth, scalability isn’t an issue.

So now how does this all translate to wireless concrete sensors

Conventional Wireless Concrete Sensors

Just like smart lights, IoT-based wireless concrete sensors come in many forms and operate on various networks. The more common concrete sensing solutions use Bluetooth technology to provide temperature data directly to your phone over an app. Transmitting at a frequency of 2.45GHz, Bluetooth-enabled sensors can easily send information through a concrete slab to your phone provided you are within an average radius of 10m. Stray anywhere farther than that, though, and you will begin to experience signal loss which means – since these particular concrete sensing solutions require on-site data collection – the data you obtain isn’t always real-time. It’s one of the major drawbacks to using these types of low-range systems. 

Another issue tied to most Bluetooth-enabled sensors is that they require you to install each unit individually at specific points within your slab prior to the concrete pour. This could be acceptable for small-scale builds where the amount of concrete is manageable, but poses major issues when used in large-scale projects like skyscrapers or airports. Sound familiar?

IoT Concrete Sensors

There are advanced concrete monitoring systems, however, that avoid this problem entirely. LumiCon, for instance, is a fully end-to-end concrete sensing solution. Consisting of a flexible sensor cable and rugged transmission node, LumiCon collects and sends a continuous stream of high-quality data directly to the cloud where it can be accessed via the internet in real-time from virtually anywhere. It also uses cellular connectivity both for faster transfer speeds and better reliability in remote locations. 

LumiCon harnesses the power of IoT with its advanced software-based analytic tools. You can see specific details for each of your slabs without ever stepping foot at your jobsite. On top of that, the system is designed to support up to 100 transmission nodes over a one-mile radius, giving ample headroom for scalability and better access based on project requirements. 

Although these two types of solutions are technically “wireless”, their similarities are far and few between. On one hand, you have a system that requires on-site data collection and can be difficult to scale up for larger projects. On the other hand, you have an IoT-based platform which can be infinitely scaled and monitored remotely over the cloud. 

If you’re using concrete sensors for your next project, why settle for less? Why not use a truly wireless system that doesn’t compromise on anything, providing you constant and accurate data without any limitations?

Schedule a call today to learn how LumiCon concrete sensors can help you in your next project!