/>
X
Why you can trust ZDNet
Our recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product through our links. This helps support our work but does not influence what we write about or the price you pay. Our editors thoroughly review and fact check every article. Our process

'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

Disruptive Technologies Sensor Starter Kit, hands on: IoT in a box

charles-mclellan.jpg
Written by Charles McLellan on
disruptive-technologies-ssk-header.jpg

Disruptive Technologies Sensor Starter Kit

If you're looking to explore how IoT technology could benefit your business or home, and you like tinkering and app development, the Sensor Starter Kit from Norwegian company Disruptive Technologies could be the launchpad you need. For £579 ($649 in the US, €669 in Europe), you get five small sensors -- they're the size of Scrabble tiles -- to measure temperature, touch, proximity, humidity and the presence of water; these talk wirelessly to a 4G/LTE Cloud Connector gateway, which uploads data to the DT Studio web app where you can create dashboards, configure notifications and integrate data streams with your own applications via webhooks or a full-blown REST API. It's all remarkably straightforward.

disruptive-technologies-ssk-main.jpg

Disruptive Technologies' Sensor Starter Kit costs £579, US$649 or €669.

Image: Disruptive Technologies

Sensors 

disruptive-technologies-ssk-5-sensors.jpg

The sensors -- temperature, touch, proximity, water and humidity -- are about the size of Scrabble tiles, and are designed to stick to flat surfaces.

Image: Disruptive Technologies  

The sensors are small tile-shaped devices, measuring 19mm by 19mm by 2.5mm and weighing 2g, with a protective film on the back that you peel off, allowing you to stick the sensor to a flat surface. They're identified by name and a QR code printed on the front, but if these should wear off, you can identify them via touch (when connected to a Cloud Connector). 

Disruptive Technologies' sensors use a proprietary wireless connectivity protocol called SecureDataShot (SDS), which, the company says, is a better fit for high sensor density installations with high data collection frequencies in a limited area (an office building, for example) than the popular LoRa technology, which is more suitable for longer ranges, and lower sensor densities and data rates. In Europe, SecureDataShot uses the 868MHz ISM band, while the 915MHz band is used in the US.

SDS provides end-to-end encryption and seamless roaming across Cloud Connector gateways. According to Disruptive Technologies "The SDS protocol is designed to allow up to one million sensors to operate in a small, geographical area".

disruptive-technologies-ssk-touch-sensor.jpg

You can identify any of the sensors and check they're working by touching them and checking for a response in Studio.

Image: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The sensors are durable and waterproof, with an IP68 rating, and have Wi-Fi-like range indoors (~25 metres) or, in 'high power boost' mode, up to a kilometre outdoors with no obstructions. The range is 300m in standard mode, which consumes less battery power. Battery life will vary depending on conditions, but is rated at up to 15 years in the default configuration, which makes a standard-mode radio transmission every 15 minutes. 

The temperature sensor operates between -40 and 85°C but will deliver reduced performance outside the recommended -25 to 50°C range (longer recovery time and reduced range at low temperatures; reduced battery life at high temperatures). Also, the humidity sensor, which measures both temperature and relative humidity, has a standard-mode battery life of up to 10 years, rather than 15 years for the other four devices.

Top ZDNet Reviews

Raspberry Pi 4
raspberry-pi-4-model-b-header.jpg

Top ZDNet Reviews

Raspberry Pi 4

9
Motorola Moto G100
motorola-moto-g100-header.jpg

Top ZDNet Reviews

Motorola Moto G100

8
Raspberry Pi 400
raspberry-pi-400-header.jpg

Top ZDNet Reviews

Raspberry Pi 400

8.5
OnePlus Watch
oneplus-watch-3.jpg

Top ZDNet Reviews

OnePlus Watch

5.7

Cloud Connector 

The Cloud Connector -- we had an EU 4G version in our review kit -- measures 65mm wide by 130mm deep by 40mm thick and weighs 200g. It comes with a Power-over Ethernet (PoE) adapter, UK and EU plug attachments, an RJ-45 Ethernet cable and fasteners for wall mounting. This device relays data streams from the wireless sensors to the cloud-based DT Studio app via a 4G LTE or Ethernet connection.

disruptive-technologies-ssk-cloud-connector.jpg

The Cloud Connector relays sensor data to the cloud-based Studio app over Ethernet (above left) or 4G LTE (above right).

Images: Charles McLellan / ZDNet & Disruptive Technologies

The Cloud Connector connects automatically to within-range sensors and its installed 4G LTE SIM roams between mobile networks to find the best connection to the cloud. If mobile coverage is poor where you live and/or work, you can use a wired Ethernet connection instead. I relied on Ethernet and my fibre-based home broadband during this review, as the mobile signal -- in a rural area just 45 miles north of London -- is poor on all four mobile networks.

The Sensor Starter Kit comes with a year's subscription for the mobile connection, which must subsequently be renewed at €24 per year via the DT Studio app. 

DT Studio

DT Studio is where you organise your sensors and Cloud Connectors, set up organisations and projects, manage access, and make external integrations. It's a functional web app that, once you've set up your account, presents you with a default Inventory project containing all of your sensors. If you buy new sensors, which cost £49/$59/€59 or £59/$69/€75 each, they'll show up here first.

We were quickly able to set up simple projects, such as one to measure temperature and humidity at a first floor east-facing window -- which reported some startlingly high temperatures during the recent UK heatwave.

disruptive-technologies-ssk-dt-studio.jpg

A DT Studio project measuring temperature and humidity.

Image: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

You can invite new project members to be administrators (who can move devices between projects and manage access), developers (who can edit devices and project settings) or users (who have view-only access). Notifications are also available -- for example, we set up email alerts for various temperature levels, and for the presence of water in an area of the loft where we suspected a roof leak.

disruptive-technologies-ssk-dt-studio-project-settings.jpg

Inviting new project members in DT Studio.

Image: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Sensor data is stored in the DT cloud for 31 days, but if you want to forward your data to external services, in real time, you can use Data Connectors. These are similar to webhooks, but with an additional delivery guarantee, low latency and TLS encryption.

SEE:Network security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

The DT Studio app is built on Disruptive Technologies' REST API, which, once you've set up a suitable service account, can also enable the same array of capabilities. You can interact with DT's REST API and a range of endpoints using tooling such as cURL, Python API and Postman. 

The Sensor Starter Kit isn't exactly cheap at £579/$649/€669, and of course if you decide to install hundreds or thousands of sensors and multiple Cloud Connectors, you'll soon run up a serious bill. That said, the SSK is easy to get to grips with, even for a non-developer, and should prove valuable in proofs-of-concept and pilot programmes where organisations are exploring how to optimise the layout and management of their premises.

RECENT AND RELATED CONTENT

The best computer science resources in 2021: Apps, sites, and more options

Tesla full self-driving is not what most people call 'full' self-driving

Samsung releases SmartThings Energy to manage energy use

Developers are exhausted. Here's what needs to change

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak voices support for right to repair

Read more reviews

Related

Netgear Orbi Quad-Band Mesh WiFi 6E System (RBKE963): Fast but expensive wireless mesh networking
netgear-orbi-wifi-6e-rbke963-header.jpg

Netgear Orbi Quad-Band Mesh WiFi 6E System (RBKE963): Fast but expensive wireless mesh networking

Networking
NexDock 360 Touch review: Transform your Samsung smartphone into a capable laptop
nexdock-360-5.jpg

NexDock 360 Touch review: Transform your Samsung smartphone into a capable laptop

Mobility
Dell XPS 17 9710 (2021) review: A highly configurable premium 17-inch laptop
dell-xps-17-9710-header.jpg

Dell XPS 17 9710 (2021) review: A highly configurable premium 17-inch laptop

Laptops