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Convergence could push adoption of wireless sensor networks

Posted: 29 Jan 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Frost & Sullivan  wireless sensor network  cloud  convergence  smart home 

Various technological breakthroughs have made the call for wireless sensor networks even louder. These applications include, real-time data monitoring and analysis in factory automation; tracking production flow and quality; and cloud connectivity and development of newer wireless protocols.

In fact, a recent report from Frost & Sullivan revealed that the global wireless sensor networks market earned revenues of $1.20 billion in 2014 and estimated this to reach $3.26 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 18.1 per cent.

"All industries, apart from consumer electronics and goods, deploy wireless sensor networks for monitoring," said Rajender Thusu, Frost & Sullivan measurement and instrumentation industry principal. "The building automation, supply chain, defence, materials handling and food and beverage, sectors use wireless sensor networks for tracking and tagging in addition to monitoring."

However, wireless sensor networks remain underutilised for control functions, except for short range wireless sensor communications and a few off/on features. Reliability and security appear to be key user concerns. Further, end users are hesitant to invest the time and money required to address currently limited bandwidth.

Wireless sensor network

All industries, apart from consumer electronics and goods, deploy wireless sensor networks for monitoring. (PRNewsFoto/Frost & Sullivan)

Lack of convergence is another challenge compounded by proprietary wireless network standards. Enforcement of common wireless sensor network standards will be critical to ensure free data flow, eliminate data packet losses, and sustain pace of transmission.

To meet diverse market needs different approaches have been developed. Wireless devices based on IEEE 802.15.4 are characterised by short range, low bit rate, low power and low cost. These devices work to connect the physical environment with the real world applications. Other efforts include development of 6LoWPAN, which is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that aims at achieving transfer of IPv6 packets over low-power wireless sensor networks based on standards such as IEEE 802.15.4.

Among proprietary solutions, Z-Wave developed by Zensys focuses on addressing the building automation and smart homes market. Another effort is DASH7, which is an alliance that focuses on sub-1GHz radio technology based on the Alliance Mode Protocol, chip development and device productisation. It facilitates interoperability with various standards.

"With a converged standard, end users can easily integrate process control and automation sensors with other functions such as asset and human tracking systems," noted Thusu.

Should convergence stay out of reach, network management tools that enable communication integration at the application level are expected to bridge the gap in the global wireless sensor networks market.

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