Across Two Embedded World Halls, NeoCortec Demos Sensor-to-Cloud Network

April 18, 2024 by Duane Benson

NeoCortec extended its exhibition outside of its Embedded World booth by installing wireless mesh network nodes across two halls.

NeoCortec did more than just exhibit its mesh networking system at Embedded World 2024 last week: the company set up an extended mesh network with more than 30 nodes spanning two exhibit halls.

The NeoCortec protocol is a low-power, ad-hoc, and bi-directional wireless mesh network for 2.4 GHz and sub-1 GHz frequency bands. It’s designed to help developers easily implement Internet of Things (IoT) networks with minimal development time. The modules can be built into custom PC boards or utilized in pre-built boards like the MikroE Click boards, as the NeoCortec team used in the Embedded World demo.


Thomas Steen Halkier

Thomas Steen Halkier, NeoCortec CEO, with mesh networking node at Embedded World 2024

The NeoMesh protocol is a distinct smart device protocol built from the ground up to address limitations in existing mesh networks such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and Thread. It delivers higher scalability in terms of the number of devices, range, and power consumption.


Four Companies, Four Components

NeoCortec's mesh network solution uses the company's NeoMesh protocol stack and wireless modules integrated into MikroE Click boards. The network uses a Beagleboard as its mesh-to-internet gateway. Avnet IoTConnect software configures and manages the network.


NeoCortec's network tool

NeoCortec's network tool to monitor each node in the mesh network. Image used courtesy of NeoCortec

NeoMesh created individual nodes by plugging sets of three MikroE Click boards into a carrier board. Each carrier received a BLE 10 Click, HVAC Click, and a NeoMesh Click to connect to the mesh network. The nodes were placed in various spots around two exhibit halls. As an ad-hoc wireless mesh network, the nodes self-connected and self-configured for network communications. Once installed, the mesh network counted nearby Bluetooth devices to monitor traffic flow and air CO2 levels, temperature, and humidity.


NeoCortec's Low-Power Mesh Networking

NeoCortec delivers its NeoMesh protocol networking with the NC1000-8, NC1000-9, and NC2400 wireless network modules, which support 868 MHz, 915 MHz, and 2.4 GHz transmission, respectively. The low-power devices have an average power consumption as low as 20 µA.



NeoCortec NC1000-8 868-MHz mesh networking module. Image used courtesy of NeoCortec

The modules can be used for fixed or mobile mesh networks. They are suitable for large networks, as demonstrated at Embedded World, or as a single unit node for automated electric meter reading.

NeoCortec Leverages Three MikroE Click Boards

The hardware used in the Embedded World 2024 mesh network came from MikroE's proprietary Click board form factor. Click boards are designed to carry a variety of hardware sensors and systems and provide an easy-to-implement, common-bus system.


MikroE's Click board

MikroE's Click board with NeoCortec NC1000-8 wireless mesh networking module. Image used courtesy of MikroE

In the Embedded World mesh network implementation, NeoCortec utilized three different Click boards: 

  1. BLE 10 Click to scan the surroundings for data on crowd size and visitor density
  2. HVAC Click to monitor temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels
  3. NeoMesh Click NC1000-8 to act as the mesh network node and collect and communicate data from the BLE 10 Click and BLE HVAC Click

The Click boards communicate over a custom bus. Click boards can be plugged into carrier boards via a set of 0.1” pin headers. The bus allows multiple sensors to be connected to one NeoMesh Click board.

Developers can use more than 1,600 Click boards in 11 categories for software prototyping before designing a custom PCB, or they can use the Click boards in final products without a custom PCB. The MikroE bus is available on development boards from many manufacturers, allowing the NeoMesh and a host of other functionalities to be added easily to embedded systems.


NeoCortec Taps Beagleboard and Avnet for Support

The internet gateway consisted of a NeoMesh Click mounted to a Beagleboard BeaglePlay. BeaglePlay is a variation of the open-source Beagleboard single-board computer (SBC) designed to accommodate embedded and IoT buses. It’s powered by a 64-bit Texas Instruments 1.4-GHz quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 running Linux. Click boards plug into a MikroE Click bus connector on the board, and the Beagleboard manages the connection between the NeoCortec mesh network and the internet.


NeoCortec mesh network demo

NeoCortec mesh network demo at Embedded World, showing Bluetooth device density heatmap within the Avnet IoTConnect management console.


IoTConnect is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) middleware platform designed to secure, configure, and manage data from multiple IoT installations. It collects data from IoT sensor networks and provides cloud-based tools for managing, analyzing, and reviewing the data.


Beyond the Booth

While NeoCortec's network set-up was a tradeshow demonstration, the multi-node, multi-hall application validated the protocol's real-world, practical functionality. Similar networks could be used on factory floors, office buildings, hospitals, and other settings that require many devices with a low-cost setup and installation.