What is 6loWPAN and Why Should I Try it in my IoT Project?

6loWPAN is key when building a mesh network or requiring low power consumption

In the world of IoT, we may find different protocols and standards like 6LoWPan, Wize, LoRa, Sigfox.  There is an abundance of wireless technologies and so we often wonder which one is the most suitable for our project. In our experience, we have found that there is never just one winner. It always depends on the application and the technical specifications of each scenario.

Finding the right one for your project is a tedious task, especially if you’re a newbie. It is vital to start off with learning the basics and understanding how a specific wireless technology can benefit you. If your project requires low power consumption or if you need to build a mesh network, 6LoWPAN would be the perfect match for you. This name is similar to LoRa or Sigfox, which both offer similar features but not necessarily the same results.

Benefits of using 6LowPAN in your applications:

  • Efficient use of IPv6 over low-power wireless networks on simple embedded devices.
  • Ideal to create mesh networks, it carries IPv6 or v4 data packets over the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. It provides end-to-end IP, while able to provide seamless connectivity to a huge variety of networks using the same standard including direct connectivity to the Internet.
  • Low data rates: In this way, 6LoWPAN adopts a different approach to the other low power wireless sensor network solutions. The overall system aims at providing wireless internet connectivity at low data rates. 
  • Low Power: IPv6 provides a basic transport mechanism to produce complex control systems and to communicate with devices in a cost-effective manner via a low-power wireless network.

 

6loWPAN most commonly used for:

  • Smart Home: Connecting devices using IPv6 has the chance to gain distinct advantages over other IoT systems. The Thread Initiative standardizes the protocol running over 6LoWPAN to enable home automation. Also, OpenThread gives developers a smooth introduction to Thread for the start to developing smart home solutions.
  • Smart Agriculture: Enabling all kind of sensors used in agriculture and farming by connecting devices that are far away from each other in remote areas.  There are endless possibilities that this protocol provides when it comes to building mesh networks for this type of application.
  • Industrial IoT: The perfect asset for automated factories and industrial plants is 6LoWPAN. Automation can enable major savings for the industry and 6LoWPAN has the ability to connect to the cloud. This opens up many different areas for data monitoring, analysis and predictive maintenance.

Worried about security? 

6LoWPAN uses AES-128 link layer security which is defined in IEEE 802.15.4. This provides link authentication and encryption. On top of the IP protocols, other security mechanisms, such as TLS or digital signature can also be implemented.

Final Decision 

There are always difficulties when deciding between the specifications of an application. But it’s always vital to keep the final outcome in mind before starting the prototype. Before starting a 6LoWPAN project, take a look at the developing tools that Zolertia has developed to make this process easier for you, which is located on our tools page. For further assistance, you can reach out to us for a quick assessment at info@zolertia.io.

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