This A to Z of AgTech is a jargon buster and glossary of AgTech terminology. It's a start on a list containing all the definitions, terms, acronyms and slang commonly used in agtech, precision, connected, IoT, smart and digitally enabled farming.
Click on a word to discover what it means.
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Ag Industry Identification System - E-Business Identification Code (EBID) codes that are assigned to entities. The AA Code is a unique 13-character field: the letters AA followed by 7 digits and 4 zeros (AA12345670000).
The imaginary reference line set for each field that a tractor/sprayer guidance system to follow. There are different reference lines that can be set in a field to fit a particular geography or layout.
Accuracy (of GPS receivers)
Accuracy (of GPS receivers) – The measure of closeness of an object’s actual (true) position to the position obtained with a GPS receiver. Accuracy levels are used to rate the quality of GPS receivers.
An analogy to Industry 4.0. It is the integrated internal and external networking of farming operations as a result of the emergence of smart technology in agriculture.
AI / Artificial intelligence
The computer simulation of intelligent behavior such as decision making. AI can refer to anything from a computer program playing a game of chess, to a voice-recognition system like ‘Hey Google’ or Amazon Alexa interpreting and responding to speech.
A mathematical formula that may be used to control variable rate applications.
A piece of software or code or set of functions that allow one piece of hardware or software or a device to talk to another piece of hardware or software etc made by another brand or competitor. API is often used when discussing interoperability of different online ag platform providers.
An Access Point Name (APN) is the name of a gateway between a GSM, GPRS, 3G or 4G mobile network and another computer network. A mobile device making a data connection must be configured with an APN that it will automatically show to a network carrier if it receives its satellite signal The carrier will then examine this APN code to determine what type of network connection should be created, for example: which IP addresses should be assigned to the wireless device, which security methods should be used, and how or if, it should be connected to some type of private customer network.
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
An As-Applied Map is a map containing site-specific information about the location and rate of application for fertilizer or chemical input. Usually created with a GPS equipped applicator and data logger.
Automatic Section Control
Automatic Section Control - Turns application equipment OFF in areas that have been previously covered, or ON and OFF at headland turns, point rows, terraces, and/or no-spray zones such as grass waterways. Sections of a boom or planter or individual nozzles/rows may be controlled.
Vehicle guidance without the need for human intervention. A tractor may be driven by a series of on-boards sensors and GPS for precision driving without damage to crops.
A GPS guidance system that steers agricultural equipment with centimeter accuracy. This level of accuracy requires real time kinematic (RTK) correction of GPS signals. Auto-steer is an add-on component for equipment. It includes both the GPS system to receive and process the signals, software and hardware to allow the input of control maps and the mechanical equipment to actually steer the tractor. Some new tractors are available “auto-steer ready.”
GPS machine control systems that include boom control and planter control by row sections or individual row.
Australia’s Biotechnology Organisation
Australian Women in Agriculture
A simple map that shows the boundaries of a field or section and information about any unique feature (sinkholes, or streams).
The rate at which information is transferred in a communication channel. Refers to the number of signal or symbol changes that occur per second. Higher baud rates have more bits per second transferred.
The RTK-GPS receiver and radio that are placed in a stationary position, functioning as the corrections source for roving tractor units in an area. These stations can be either portable or permanently installed systems and their coverage can range from 5 to 10 miles depending on topographic conditions, antenna height, and radio-transmit power.
Information collected in large and varied data sets, typically from IoT sensors and devices.
Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances using short-wavelength UHF radio waves. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and ‘classic’ Bluetooth operate in similar ways. The main benefit of BLE is that it operates in sleep mode and awakens only when a connection is initiated. Consequently, a Bluetooth LE device offers power consumption that translates to a power savings over Classic Bluetooth of a magnitude 1-5 percent. Bluetooth Low Energy devices can be powered by a coin cell battery for one to five years.
An electronic device that is capable of turning on/off sections of a chemical application boom manually or automatically in combination with GPS positioning and area mapping.
CAN-Bus (in tractors and implements)
CAN-Bus is a high-speed, wired data network connection between electronic devices. The hardware/wiring of CAN-Bus networks are generally the same, while the protocols for communication can be different and vary depending on the industry where they are used. These networks are used to link multiple sensors to an electronic controller, which can be linked to relays or other devices on a single set of wires. This reduces the amount of wires needed for a system and allows for a cleaner way to connect additional devices as system demands change.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Compact Measurement Record (CMR)
Survey grade communication & differential corrections. There are three different forms (CMR, CMR+, and CMRx) and the difference between them is the amount of correction data that can be obtained due to the amount of satellites. It’s common to see this term using Trimble GPS systems.
Cooperative Research Centre
Cotton Breeding Australia
Cattle Council, Sheepmeat Council and Australian Lot Feeders Association
Used in GPS/GNSS navigational systems to reference locations on Earth. There are many coordinate systems but frequently used ones include: latitude and longitude, Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM), and State Plane coordinate systems.
The network of tracking stations that monitor and control GPS satellites.
A yield map that combines dots of the same intensity/yield level by interpolating (or kriging).
Interpolation method used to distinguish between different levels of an attribute (elevation, fertility, yield).
A line used to represent the same value of an attribute (elevation or yield).
Continuously Operating Reference Station. A network managed by the U.S. office of National Ocean Service (NOAA) to provide GNSS data consisting of carrier phase measurements throughout the United States.
Cotton Research and Develop Corporation
Optical crop sensors used to measure and/or quantify crop health or evaluate crop conditions by shining light of specific wavelengths at crop leaves, and measuring the type and intensity of the light wavelengths reflected back to the sensors.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
A collection of different pieces of information (e.g. yield, soil type, fertility) that can be stored, managed and manipulated into models.
Data Layer (in GIS)
A layer of information on a GIS map. A map can have many layers to present different types of information. For example, the first layer of a map may be a satellite image of an area. The next layer may have only lines that represent roads or highways. The next layer may contain topographic information and so forth.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Cth)
DGPS (Differential Global Positioning System)
Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) is a method of using GPS which attains the position accuracy needed for precision farming through differential correction.
Correction of a GPS signal that is used to improve its accuracy (to less than 100 m/~330 ft) big using a stationary GPS receiver whose location is know. A second receiver computes the error in signal by comparing the true distance from the satellites to the GPS measured distance.
Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS)
A method of using GPS which attains the position accuracy needed for precision farming through differential correction.
Digital agriculture refers to tools that digitally collect, store, analyse, and share electronic data and/or information along the agricultural value chain.
Digital agriculture is also known as “smart farming” or “e-agriculture” in some parts of the world.
Digital agriculture includes (but is not limited to) precision agriculture. However, unlike precision agriculture, digital agriculture impacts the entire agri-food value chain — before, during, and after on-farm production.
Therefore, on-farm technologies, like yield mapping, GPS guidance systems, and variable-rate application, fall under the domain of precision agriculture and digital agriculture.
While on the other hand, digital technologies involved in e-commerce platforms, e-extension services, warehouse receipt systems, blockchain-enabled food traceability systems, tractor rental apps, etc. fall under the umbrella of digital agriculture but not precision agriculture.
Digital Agronomists are experts in the applied use of technology to aid the science of soil and livestock management and crop production. Their primary task is to provide services to organise, analyse, and orchestrate the timely delivery of information from the bodies of digital data that constitute a farming operation.
They help by providing a structured approach to breaking the farming process down into differentiable, geo-located, and individually homogeneous units of productive assets. This approach helps ensure that information collected about each productive unit is measured, collected, analysed, and what changes to variable inputs and processes using variable technology solutions will help increase profits or better a particular process.
Digital Elevation Model (DEM)
A digital representation of a surface, used for topography.
Dilution Of Precision (DOP)
One of many quality measurements to evaluate solutions derived by a positioning receiver. This is a numeric value that relates relative geometries between positioning satellites as well as the geometries between the satellites and the receiver; the lower the value, the higher the probability of accuracy. DOP can be further classified to other variables: GDOP (three-dimensional position plus clock offset), HDOP (horizontal position), PDOP (three-dimensional position), TDOP (clock offset), and VDOP (vertical position). A DOP value of 4 or less is typically desired for best accuracy.
Simple technique of incorporating prior knowledge about soil variability into the sampling design to match sampling distribution and intensity with known soil patterns.
Farming-as-a-service (there’s also SaaS ‘Software as a Service’, and XaaS ‘Anything as a Service’)
When farmers use a subscription or pay-per-use basis to technology and data. It's ideal for small- to medium-size farms to access data-driven decisions to boost productivity and efficiency, including farm management solutions, production assistance, and access to markets.
A single position calculated by a GPS receiver with latitude, longitude, altitude, time, and date.Fix - A single position calculated by a GPS receiver with latitude, longitude, altitude, time, and date.
A sensor that measures the amount of flow through an enclosure (tube, pipe or housing) per unit of time.
A gateway is a network point (or node) that regulate internet traffic flowing between two dissimilar networks, most often a secure network and an unsecure network. Gateways are often used with routers to form a firewall.
Geographic data. Information about the spatial location and the item being monitored, whether it's yield, seed population, or something else.
Adding geographic data to yield data or other field attributes either in real-time or after data is gathered.
Geographic Information System – a computer-based system used to input, store, retrieve, and analyze geographic data sets. The GIS is usually composed of map-like spatial representations called layers which contain information on a number of attributes such as elevation, land ownership and use, crop yield and soil nutrient levels.
An orbital path of a satellite that is synchronized with the earth’s orbit or space vehicles in an orbit which keeps them over the same location on the earth at all times.
The process of adding geographic data to yield data or other field attributes either in real-time (on-the-go) or by post-processing or the process of associating data points with specific locations on the earth’s surface.
Data that contains information about the spatial location (position) and the attribute being monitored (yield, seed population, etc.). Also referred to as spatial data.
GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems)
GNSS stands for Global Navigation Satellite System and is the standard generic term for satellite navigation systems that provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning with global coverage.
Global Positioning System. GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It is a satellite-based navigation system allowing you to locate where you are, anywhere on your farm, within a distance of about 5 meters. By combining GPS with a map overlay (like on Google Maps, or Google Earth), a GPS device or piece of machinery with GPS will tell you your whereabouts in a paddock or field, where a boundary line is, or where you’re planting something.
Predetermined locations in a field where soil or plant samples may be obtained for analysis. The test information can be used for assessing fertility needs and determining approximate locations for varying fertilizer and lime applications.
Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals
Grains Research and Development Corporation
Grid Soil Sampling
Laying a grid over a map of a field and taking soil samples at the middle of each grid on the map. May be done at much higher densities (up to 42 samples per acre) to approximate the true spatial variability of a number of soil nutrient levels.
Ground Sampling Distance (GSD)
Pixel size of remotely sensed imagery. Example: 30-meter; 1-meter; 20-centimeters.
The determination of the desired path of travel (the "trajectory") from the vehicle's current location to a designated target, as well as desired changes in velocity, rotation and acceleration for following that path. There are two basic categories of guidance products: lightbar/visual guidance and auto-guidance. For lightbar/visual guidance, the operator responds to visual cues to steer the equipment based on positional information provided by a GPS. For auto-guidance, the driver makes the initial steering decisions and turns the equipment toward the following pass prior to engaging the auto-guidance mechanism. Auto-guidance can use differential correction such as WAAS, subscription services, and RTK. RTK is the most accurate level of auto-guidance available, typically +/- 1 inch. Benefits include improved field efficiency, reduced overlap of pesticide applications, time management and reduced driver fatigue. See also WAAS, Subscription Correction Signal and RTK.
Gene Technology Regulator
A term coined by Frost & Sullivan and refers to the integration of complex physical machinery with networked sensors and software. The industrial Internet draws together fields such as machine learning, big data, the Internet of things, machine-to-machine communication and Cyber-physical system to ingest data from machines, analyze it (often in real-time), and use it to adjust operations. Some consider the evolution of digital agriculture today (e.g. 2015) as leading to the Industrial Internet in agriculture.
The Internet of Things. IoT includes billions of devices connected to the internet through sensors or Wi-Fi. Each device collects data, and this data, known collectively as big data, is exchanged and analyzed.
IoT devices (Internet of Things)
The Internet of Things, commonly shortened to IoT, is a term that is used across sectors to refer to a system in which devices, sensors or machinery (i.e. “Things”) can be wirelessly connected to each other via the internet. Read a good article about IoT here.
ISOBUS standard 11783 is a communication protocol for the agricultural industry that is used to specify a serial data network for control and communications on forestry or agricultural tractors and implements. ISOBUS-compliant tractors and implements come with round 9-pin connectors.
LANDSAT / LAND SATellite
Satellites used to study the earth's surface using remote sensing techniques.
Latitude / Longitude
Latitude - A north/south measurement of position perpendicular to the earth's polar axis.
Longitude - An east/west measurement of position in relation to the Prime Meridian, an imaginary circle that passes through the north and south poles.
A navigation tool coupled with a GPS designed to keep the driver on-course. Applications include planting and fertilizer applications to reduce skips and overlaps. Typically, guidance is provided through a series of LED lights.
It’s in the name: LoRa technology has incredibly Long Range. LoRa signals can even get through substantial foliage like dense irrigated corn. In exchange for this far-reaching range, the LoRa connection has a modest bandwidth of 27 Kbps. For applications where you don’t need constant data transfer, sending a few small data packets per hour is more than sufficient. LoRa devices require a communications device like a LoRa to cellular data gateway to get data to the cloud.
LoRa connected devices shine in two ways: cost and power. Unlike cellular or satellite, LoRa connected devices are much more cost-effective in terms of hardware. Also, by using cheaper LoRa connections where you can, instead of using cloud-connected technology for each device, you’ll save quite a bundle on monthly subscriptions. In addition to cost-effectiveness, LoRa devices have very small power requirements. Battery-powered devices can last months or years in the field with no battery replacements.
Result: Long range, low bandwidth, ultra-low power. Priced to scale over multiple devices.
Data that is compiled using multiple sensors located on agricultural machinery. Most relate machine data to the information that can be collected from the CAN (controlled area network) on machines and implements. Machine data can also include guidance system information (autosteer, GPS path files, bearing, etc.), variable rate control/technology and seeding rate controllers. Data in these forms is transmitted to Agricultural Technical Providers (ATPs) via CANBus, which is a high-speed, wired data network connection between devices. This device utilizes a single wire set to relay information, which reduces the amount of wires needed for a system and allows for a cleaner way to transfer data.
Machine learning is a subfield of AI. The core principle is that machines take data and learn for themselves.
Management zones are created by subdividing a field into 10-20 acre areas with similar characteristics. Yield maps, soil texture maps, elevation data, EC data, sensor data and farmer knowledge can be used to create management zones in GIS software. There are several methods available for creating management zones.
Mass Flow Sensor
A sensor that measures grain flow in a yield monitor system.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a concept from Lean Startup that stresses the impact of learning in new product development. An MVP is a version of a new product or process which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
A sensor that measures grain moisture in a yield monitor system.
National Broadband Network
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index is the ratio of the difference between the red and near-infrared bands divided by their sum used to identify and enhance the vegetation contribution in a digital remote sensing analysis; a simple graphical indicator that can be used to analyze remote sensing measurements and assess whether the target being observed contains live green vegetation or not.
Near Infrared (NIR)
Near infrared (red), green (blue), red (green) is useful in seeing changes in plant health.
Near Field Communication (NFC)
Near-field communication (NFC) is a set of communication protocols that enable two electronic devices, one of which is usually a portable device such as a smartphone, to establish communication by bringing them within 4 cm (1 1⁄2 in) of each other.
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is a simple graphical indicator that can be used to analyze remote sensing measurements, typically, but not necessarily, from a space platform, and assess whether the target being observed contains live green vegetation or not.
National Health and Medical Research Council
National Rural Women’s Coalition
Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia
Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre
The APN identifies the packet data network that a mobile data user wants to communicate with. In addition to identifying a PDN, an APN may also be used to define the type of service, (e.g. connection to Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) server, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)) that is provided by the PDN. APN is used in 3GPP data access networks, e.g. General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), evolved packet core (EPC).
Precision agriculture is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to variability in crops. These variabilities contain many components that can be difficult to compute and as a result technology has advanced to off-set these difficulties. Two types of technology can generally be found within precision agriculture: those which ensure accuracy, and those that are meant to enhance farming operations. By combining these two technologies, farmers are able to create a decision support system for an entire operation, thereby maximizing profits and minimizing excessive resource use. This may include managing crop production inputs (seed, fertilizer, lime, pesticides, etc.) on a site-specific basis to increase profits, reduce waste and maintain environmental quality.
The dispensing of a material or chemical into the field on a prescribed or predetermined basis. A prescription map is generated by an expert (grower and/or agronomist) based on information about the field in use before an application. The prescription determines how much of something will be applied.
A prescription map tells the controller how much product to apply based on the location of the equipment in the field.
Research and Development
An electronic device that varies the amount of chemical/plant nutrient applied to a given area.
Research, Development and Extension
Research and Development Corporation
Correction of a GPS signal by simultaneously transmitting the differential correction information to a mobile receiver.
Real-Time Kinematic (RTK)
A Real-Time Kinematic is a high-end GPS capable of centimeter level positional accuracy. A procedure whereby carrier-phase corrections are transmitted in real time from a reference receiver to the user’s receiver. Depending on local availability, RTK corrections can be delivered by radio modem from an on-site base station or a state’s CORS network, or even over the internet using Wi-Fi.
The act of detection and/or identification of an object, series of objects, or landscape without having the sensor in direct contact with the object. The most common forms include color and color infrared aerial photography, satellite imaging and radar sensing.
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Routers regulate internet traffic between similar networks. A router is important in any network setup because the router ensures that traffic and any of your data intended for the local network doesn’t bleed onto the wider internet. It will also stop traffic not specifically intended for you from reaching you and help stop network attacks making their way onto your local computers, machinery or other bits of connected agtech.
Radio frequency identification.
This driverless tractor is an autonomous farm vehicle that delivers high torque at slow speeds.
Sensor technology refers to on-the-go optical sensors used to measure crop status. These sensors utilize an active LED light source to measure NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetative Index) to predict crop yield potential. NDVI values reflect the health or “greenness” of a crop and can also provide a relative biomass measurement. Data collected from these sensors are being used to direct variable rate nitrogen applications in grain crops and plant growth regulator and defoliants in cotton.
Shortwave Infrared (SIR)
Shortwave infrared (red), near infrared (green), and green (blue) used to show flooding or newly burned land.
Site Specific Crop Management (SSCM)
The use of yield maps, grid sampling and other precision tools to manage the variability of soil and crop parameters and aid decisions on production inputs (also referred to as Precision Farming)
A map showing differences in soil properties such as texture, fertility, organic matter, and pH within a field.
Spatial Data is data that contains information about the spatial location (position) and the attribute being monitored such as yield, soil properties, plant variables, seed population, etc. Synonymous with geographic data
Farming with a goal to increase production from existing farmland while minimizing damage to the environment, preserving biodiversity, and protecting the land for future crops.
The integrated use of communications and information technology to transmit, store and receive information from telecommunications devices to remote objects over a network.
An add-on feature for auto-guidance systems which correct position error that may occur when equipment travels over rolling terrain. Roll, pitch and yaw are commonly referred to when discussing terrain compensation. Roll refers to the change in elevation between the left and right sides of the vehicle; pitch refers to the change in elevation between the front and rear of the vehicle; and yaw refers to any sliding or turning motion of the vehicle to the left of right.
Total factor productivity: total output growth relative to the growth in traditionally measured inputs of labour and capital.
Thermal Infrared (TIR)
Shown in gray tones to illustrate temperature. It measures radiation from the plant and soil surface.
Unmanned Aerial Systems for Agriculture. An agricultural drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle applied to farming in order to help increase crop production and monitor crop growth. Sensors and digital imaging capabilities can give farmers a richer picture of their fields. This information may prove useful in improving crop yields and farm efficiency.
Variable rate irrigation
An emerging technology that is being used in conjunction with center pivot irrigation systems.
Information about precipitation, wind, temperature, and other climate conditions.
Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM)
Coordinate system that represents the earth’s spherical shape as 2-D zones that are evenly spaced grid lines.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone and also referred by several other names, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. The flight of UAVs may be controlled either autonomously by onboard computers or by the remote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle. In agriculture, UAVs are typically used to survey crops. The available two types of UAVs – fixed-wing and rotary-wing – are both equipped with cameras and are guided by GPS. They can travel along a fixed flight path or be controlled remotely.
Variable Rate Technology (VRT)
GPS and precise placement technology that uses an "application guidance" map to direct the application of a product to a specific, identifiable location within a field. Instrumentation such as a variable-rate controller for varying the rates of application of fertilizer, pesticides and seed as one travels across a field. VRT consists of the machines and systems for applying a desired rate of crop production materials at a specific time (and, by implication, a specific location); a system of sensors, controllers and agricultural machinery used to perform variable-rate applications of crop production inputs; refers to a system that varies the rate of agricultural inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and crop protection chemicals in response to changing local conditions.
A ratio created by dividing the red by the near-infrared spectral bands used to identify and enhance the vegetation contribution in a digital remote sensing analysis.
VRA (Variable Rate Application)
Variable rate application (VRA) in precision agriculture is an area of technology that focuses on the automated application of materials to a given landscape. The way in which the materials are applied is based on data that is collected by sensors, maps, and gps.
WiFi works across a few buildings, but expanding the range of your signal to fields and other areas of your operation costs more than it’s worth. A WiFi signal is attenuated (read: reduced) by walls, large devices, and bodies of water. That’s not ideal for an agricultural operation with large pieces of equipment, bodies of water, and miles of fields. And even without a lot of things in the way, WiFi range really isn’t that great. A general rule of thumb in home networking says that WiFi routers operating on the traditional 2.4 GHz band reach up to 150 feet (46 m) indoors and 300 feet (92 m) outdoors. Newer WiFi devices operating in the 5 Ghz range experience even more attenuation than traditional ones.
The one benefit of WiFi is that you can send a ton of data over the connection. After all, this is the same type of connectivity you’d use to stream Netflix or play video games. So, while you can send huge amounts of data, the range is too short to be valuable in a large agricultural operation, especially in a field or on a mobile machine.
WiFi hardware is also relatively power-hungry compared to other connectivity options designed for embedded devices. Connecting devices with WiFi also assumes that there is an uplink to the rest of the internet at the wireless access point your devices are connecting to.
Result: Short range, high bandwidth, draws a medium amount of power. Relatively inexpensive connectivity if you already have an internet connection.
Procedures used to calibrate a yield monitor for specific harvest conditions such as grain type, grain flow, and grain moisture.
A map that indicates differences in crop yield within a field.
Is when you create a yield map using a yield monitor or cloud based data sheet coupled with a GPS. Each yield reading is tagged with a latitude and longitude coordinates, which is then used to produce a yield map. Refers to the process of collecting geo-referenced data on crop yield and characteristics, such as moisture content, while the crop is being harvested.
A yield-measuring device installed on harvest machines. Yield monitors measure grain flow, grain moisture, and other parameters for real-time information relating to field productivity.
Zigbee technology is ultra-low power and low cost. Typical bandwidth is a respectable 250 Kbps. Zigbee devices communicate on the 2.4 GHz spectrum, the same frequency that most WiFi operates on. This means Zigbee devices experience interference from water, people, foliage, metal, and concrete. Coupled with its short range of 10 – 70 meters, the interference makes it essentially unusable for agricultural applications.
A key differentiator of Zigbee is its ability to create a mesh network. Like LoRa and Sigfox, Zigbee devices need a hub to transmit data to the cloud.
Result: Ultra-low range, low bandwidth, ultra-low power. Priced to scale for multiple devices.