Behind The Scenes of Delivering IoT At Scale

TLDW? Read on for a summary of transcripts from the 20 minutes video ↓

UnaBiz joins SORACOM at Sigfox’s annual conference, Sigfox Connect 2020, discussing one of its latest massive IoT projects; the deployment of 900,000 Smart Meter Reader Space Hotaru in residential homes throughout Japan’s Kanto Region.

Bringing the Best 

“It is not just about the technology, but rather the partnership and collaboration in a common direction. Bringing together the expertise of individual companies, while aligning our objectives and values, the relationship enabled us to develop and deploy at scale. Continuous engagement while adapting to the needs of our client ensures a successful and joyous partnership.” said Phillipe Chiu, CTO of UnaBiz.

“That vision was shared by NICIGAS, and when you align all the companies together, when we are clear on our objectives and the common values. Everyone brings what they know best and execute their expertise, this is the only way to bring it at scale.” said Alexis Susset, Technology Director & Evangelist at SORACOM.

The Game Changer: Product Design 

  • The design phase was more than just implementing the hardware, where lots of thoughts were placed in designing the back of the device that fits perfectly to the size of a typical gas pipe in Japan. This was the game changer. 
  • Pointed out for its unique shape, the Space Hotaru is a customised IoT device with attributes of NICIGAS’s own brand. It was drawn by NICIGAS.
  • Secured tightly to the gas pipe, the cable ties fits perfectly though the back casing of the Space Hotaru, where it will hold the NCUs tight, even if there are typhoons or strong winds
  • The average time required for the physical installation of these devices is approximately 2 minutes. 

UnaBiz handled the hardware side of things, while Soracom handled the software side of things

Speed and Scale: Software Integration

  • Maintaining the software aspects of the Space Hotaru, SORACOM provided a platform to streamline the data and real-time APIs for an automation process, while utilizing Sigfox 0G network. 
  • An application has been designed to allow communication with the devices to ensure constant connectivity. 
  • Linked to the Space Hotaru application, when you open the device, you will get a QR code, which is one way of identifying your device. Connecting the device to the cloud, it tells NICIGAS’s cloud that the device is online. In the meantime, the installer will switch on the device and it will start transmitting data to ensure correct and accurate communication. 

The Importance of a Resilient Supply Chain

  • Optimal attention is given to each stage of the logistics and supply chain process, with multiple testing to ensure only qualified and tested Space Hotaru are delivered. 
  • It took us 3 months to set up an extremely stable supply chain to deliver the logistics and products to Japan, where we were actively involved in each stage of the supply chain and this involves testing the product to fit our guarantee of the battery life and the processes


It is extremely crucial to find the right set of partners and do a reality check on your skillset and what you are capable of. The trust and strong relationship between UnaBiz, Soracom, and NICIGAS is what enabled us to deliver IoT at scale and we believe this is the way forward for delivering more large-scale projects. 

Discussions are currently ongoing to expand the Space Hotaru solutions to other gas operators in Japan and an LTE-M based meter reader is expected to be deployed in 2021 to supplement the Sigfox version of the Space Hotaru