Nexus Channel Core: The Next Generation of Off-Grid IoT

We are excited to announce the release of Nexus Channel Core, an open and interoperable technology for communication between off-grid energy devices.

Modern off-grid appliances incorporate an ever-growing set of features that rely on digital communication. Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) enforcement via cloud platforms like Angaza was one of the first applications of digital off-grid appliances, and it has made life-changing products accessible to millions of consumers across the globe. As the last-mile distribution sector continues to grow, we see a need for more powerful ways for devices to communicate with each other and with cloud services. Here’s why:

  • It is increasingly common for distributors to sell bundles of PAYG-metered devices. If those devices could talk to each other, the entire bundle could be managed on a single account, and activated with a single keycode, rather than requiring individual accounts and keycodes for each device. This makes it dramatically easier for clients and distributors to manage their PAYG accounts.
  • As clients move up the energy ladder, they acquire more appliances that compete for the limited amount of energy stored each day in their solar home system. If those devices could talk to each other, they could ensure that critical energy needs, like keeping food cold and fresh, are prioritized over less critical appliances. This takes the burden off of clients to manage their own energy use.
  • When devices are capable of recording and transmitting data to cloud services, distributors using platforms like Angaza can get actionable insights that allow them to fix problems before the client contacts them, and to provide better after-sales support. For example, a solar home system that is routinely being depleted each day suggests that a client may be interested in a larger system.

Angaza’s IoT team has developed a solution that is robust and powerful enough to accommodate these evolving device communication needs, but optimized to run on the very constrained hardware found in off-grid products. We also knew that in order to ensure that this solution could be widely adopted, it needed to be open and interoperable, so we collaborated with a broad cross-section of industry stakeholders.

The result is Nexus Channel. Nexus Channel is a complete solution for device-to-device communication secured by cloud services. Nexus allows devices to talk to each other in a common language defined by open standards, even if those devices are from different manufacturers. That common language is called Nexus Channel Core.

Nexus Channel Core is an open standard based on existing IoT industry standards. You can check out the specifications and immediately get started with building compatible devices. Angaza has also built an open-source reference implementation that can be included in your own device firmware.

Nexus Channel Core is available today. The complete Nexus Channel solution has two key components:

  • The security layer, which allows sensitive data like PAYG credit to be exchanged only between devices that have been linked by the cloud platform that manages those devices
  • Cloud platform support for managing and linking Nexus Channel devices to maximize interoperability.

The Nexus embedded library will have support for the security layer by the end of 2020, and the Angaza Hub will have full support for Nexus Channel devices in Q1 2021.

We’re excited to have the support of industry organizations like GOGLA and Efficiency for Access driving the adoption of Nexus Channel as the off-grid industry standard for device communication. We are also working closely with Solaris Off-Grid and GOGLA on standards for hardware connections and electronic communication between devices that run Nexus Channel.

The introduction of the PAYG financing model, along with device functionality to enforce it, has revolutionized the off-grid energy industry. We’re confident that the release of off-grid devices that support the features enabled by Nexus Channel will be an even bigger revolution in the industry. So we invite you to participate in the development of this open technology, incorporate it into new products, and continue transforming lives!

To learn more about Nexus you can review the GitHub repository here, or feel free to reach out to manufacturers@angaza.com.

Nexus Channel Core is supported in part by funding from the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund.

Efficiency for Access, with funding from UK aid and the IKEA Foundation, is investing in Research and Development (R&D) projects focused on improving appliances in off- and weak-grid environments. The Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund is particularly interested in projects that aim to accelerate the affordability, availability, efficiency and performance of a range of Low Energy Inclusive Appliances particularly suited to developing country contexts and that promote social inclusion.