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More wireless standards in an M2M world?

Posted: 16 May 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IPv6  wireless standards  Bluetooth  IP  data collection 

As IPv6 now provides an address space of more than 280 billion, the Internet usage paradigm has moved into a new phase. Content can now automatically be generated and/or consumed not only by human users but also by machines. The age of deep connectivity starts to become reality.

But what about all the other wireless standards such as Bluetooth, Wireless-M-Bus, etc. that are already established and in use for different areas of application? Given the success of IP, will these other standards disappear?

The current development is a challenge and an opportunity for existing standards. The individual disciplines have long been viewed as separate areas, with optimised, isolated solutions developed for each one. The goal today, however, is to break down these boundaries and combine the different aspects into one, intelligent overall system with a core network shaped by IPv6.

The solution to this approach lies in open interfaces and specifications with few obstacles to integration. However, this means that existing systems must become more open. In doing so, they can bring in their benefits and capture even new fields of application, assuming a new role in this connected world.

Energy harvesting wireless solutions are a good example of how this could look.

Self-powered wireless technology is a particularly good choice for transmitting states and measured values from wireless switches, sensors, and actuators. Therefore, the wireless standard is very well established in building automation systems that allow an intelligent control of energy, comfort, and security. Due to the technology's specific characteristics – being wireless, battery-less, and maintenance-free – self-powered sensors are also attractive to monitor outdoor data in the environment.

That's why the technology is currently further developed to meet the requirements of outdoor sensing. This includes higher efficiency harvesters, lower energy consumption, higher capacity energy storage, and longer range radio connection. Besides these technical features, open interfaces are defined that allow gateway and software providers to connect the energy harvesting wireless standard to different high level OS systems, like Windows, Java, Android, etc.

This has two effects: First, it is no longer required that the sensor nodes themselves physically communicate via IPv6 as the translation between the node's protocol and IPv6 becomes transparent. This brings new possibilities of collecting data with self-powered nodes that use ambient energy as a power source to the IPv6 world. Secondly, services can arise that store and process the sensor data in the cloud and provide the information for different purposes.

So, integrating the different technologies more closely means that a system can access sensor data more directly, regardless of the situation, as well as run calculations on this basis and control actuators intelligently. The networks of self-powered sensors, actuators, and processors needed to do this can be created and modified dynamically as needed. The data can be stored and processed in a cloud-based infrastructure, so that once it has been collected, the data can be used for different applications.

Without doubt, energy harvesting wireless solutions allow a highly flexible and reliable data collection – indoor and outdoor. But only the system's opening for IPv6 connectivity results in new, future-proof business models giving the data collected by self-powered notes a higher value.

About the author
Prior to working for EnOcean, Poppel was European director of embedded processing marketing and applications at Texas Instruments . His responsibilities ranged from microcontrollers and microprocessors to wireless transceivers.

To download the PDF version of this article, click here.





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