Remember the wireless sensor network “wars” from ten years ago, or so? Harry Sim left Honeywell Process to head up a new endeavor of Cypress Semiconductor to exploit these networks in a variety of different environments. I told him at the time that I thought he had a good chance for success.
Yesterday he wrote to me with an update. I thought I’d share it–partly as a positive example for you budding entrepreneurs out there.
New York City: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere! For our company, there is a lot of truth to that phrase, since Cypress Envirosystems technology retrofits existing buildings – and New York has more buildings than any other US city.
Back in 2012, we eyed NYC from our perch in Silicon Valley…it is the largest city with the densest concentration of existing buildings, with perhaps the fiercest business competition. As the CEO of our startup company, I had a personal goal to build a strong business there – just to prove that we have what it takes to win in the toughest market.
Now, five years later, we have completed the upgrade of over 50 buildings in New York City, including schools, hospitals, universities, office buildings, and courthouses. These include iconic structures such as the majestic courthouses at Civic Center, the 65 story Deutsche Bank headquarters on Wall Street, the venerable CUNY campus in Lower Manhattan, Kings County Hospital, and K-12 schools in all five boroughs. In addition, our WPT technology is deployed at 3.5 million square feet at the Weiss and Javits Federal buildings, the tallest government buildings in the US, housing the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Social Security, Customs and Immigration, General Services Administration and other agencies.
And our pace is accelerating. In the next six months, another 31 buildings are already planned for upgrade. The NYC government has independently tested and vetted our WPT technology – and it is now included in municipal retrofit specifications (see press release from New York City DCAS Commissioner Lisett Camillo here).
Cypress Envirosystems’ solutions use patented non-invasive technologies to make existing buildings smarter, more comfortable, and more efficient with a minimum of cost and disruption (these days, it is called the Internet of Things – see MSN/Tech Republic interview here). I now have the satisfaction to know that we can make it in New York, and we play an important role to help this world class city become more efficient and sustainable.
Despite our progress however, we have barely scratched the surface of what can be done. New York City alone has over 4,000 municipal buildings, and another ten times that many in the private sector. Not to mention Chicago, LA, Philadelphia with similar building stock. The majority of them will benefit from the same unique technologies we have already deployed over the past five years – but our challenge will be to do 100 times more, and faster, over the next five years. The exciting journey continues for us…thank you for taking this moment to allow me to share our story with you.
Connecting things to the Internet, or to the Cloud, or whatever app. The Internet of Things is nothing without connection. Almost every piece of news or interview I’ve seen or had over the past month or two has dealt with Internet of Things platforms. Here is news from a company new to me dealing with getting legacy devices into the system.
Amir Haleem, CEO of Helium, explained the technology and products with me yesterday in relation to an announcement regarding launch of its latest product suite.
This product suite is a comprehensive low-power, long-range networking solution for IoT devices. The new offering streamlines the ability to prototype, deploy and scale a long-range wireless network that connects thousands of end devices, giving companies a simple way to intelligently and securely deliver data from device to the cloud and application layer.
The system consists of end devices called Atom that are wireless (802.15.4, but in star not mesh topology) that attach to legacy sensors and field devices typically via serial. These connect to Access Points which in turn aggregate and send data to the cloud.
“Connectivity is extraordinarily complicated when dealing with resource-constrained embedded devices,” added Haleem. “Helium has taken a process that normally takes months of labor-intensive work from a large team and simplified it to a process that can be achieved in minutes with minimal staff, and provides the visibility and control needed to manage at scale going forward.”
Automating device management and updates through a central dashboard
As companies continue to build and scale their IoT deployments, it becomes especially crucial that they ensure full control and management of their operations. Helium allows companies to manage and update their systems from a central console, the Helium Dashboard, eliminating the need to visit every sensor in the field, which is a common challenge of remote field monitoring. Helium Dashboard also serves as a central point for Helium Channels, the setup and integration of the cloud applications and data stores used to assess and take action on these physical data.
“Although there has been great progress made in the areas of IoT hardware and cloud software, there are still major technical and economic challenges in getting connectivity to the edge point to gather and deliver data,” said Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst at Quocirca. “Simplifying and lowering costs of connectivity deployment would remove a significant barrier to mass IoT adoption in several industries.”
A new economic model for deploying, managing and scaling IoT networks
Helium will simplify everything that goes into purchasing, deploying and managing a long-range, low-power IoT solution, up-ending the traditional carrier-based model, which often does not provide reliable coverage where it is needed. It’s products will work out of the box with all existing sensor hardware and a wide range of IoT cloud applications with little-to-no configuration. With hardware as low as $19 per Helium Atom module, $29 per Element Access Point, and a simple $1.99 per month per installed Atom with no usage or data fees, Helium eliminates upcharges and most add-on costs. Helium’s open standards will ensure that it will support IoT hardware and software regardless of the IoT technology companies are using today or in the future.
Key features include:
• Zero configuration for simple installation and setup at scale
• Compatibility across hundreds of hardware providers
• Extremely long range connectivity, on the order of many city-blocks in dense urban applications and hundreds of square miles in sparse rural settings
• IEEE standards-based hardware provides maximum flexibility for changing business demands with no proprietary lock-in.
• Hardware-based security to ensure data is encrypted and devices authenticated, end to end
• Over-the-air updating and bi-directional communication to provide future-proofing, up-to-date software and further protection from security risks
• Helium Channels provide interoperability with all major cloud solution providers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS IoT, and Google Cloud Platform IoT Core
• Full visibility and management enabled by Helium Dashboard
Remember the wireless wars of about 10 years ago? No? Good.
But Emerson was the leader of the WirelessHART camp. One or two other companies led the ISA100 camp. The technologies are quite similar with just enough differences to make them incompatible. A movement to converge the standards faltered.
Then the entire issue went away. Just as I told them all at the time, the market will decide. And it did.
Both wireless technologies, and products supporting each, still exist. So, Emerson has released a new product to bridge the gap.
Emerson announced a new dual-mode wireless gateway which supports both IEC 62951 WirelessHART and ISA100.11a industrial wireless communications standards. This latest addition expands Emerson’s wireless portfolio and provides customers an easy way to take advantage of WirelessHART technologies from many suppliers.
“With our new dual-mode gateway, we’re excited to give ISA100.11a users an easy path to the improved operating performance they are seeking,” said Bob Karschnia, vice president and general manager, wireless, Emerson Automation Solutions. “WirelessHART has proven in 10 years of successful deployments around the world to provide the highest reliability and most robust self-organizing, self-healing network, for the lowest cost.”
With more than 31,000 WirelessHART installations worldwide and over 9.1 billion operating hours, Emerson leads the automation industry in wireless networking. Emerson’s wireless portfolio helps customers extend their automation ecosystem for improved operating reliability with sensing, monitoring and control technologies such as temperature, pressure, level, corrosion, flow, acoustic, gas and vibration, plus wireless adapters for valve positioners and digital valve controllers.
Serving as the backbone of a wireless infrastructure, wireless gateways and access points increase the amount of real-time information available to automation systems, applications and analytics tools to help organizations improve responsiveness and decision making. Critically, they must possess robust, “always-on” security to limit network vulnerability. When deployed efficiently, they can require the least hardware necessary to keep costs low while operating reliability high. Lastly, customers consistently seek ease-of-deployment as a key consideration.
A future release of Emerson’s dual-mode wireless gateway will be integrated into the Cisco 1552WU, a combined WirelessHART and WiFi solution for industrial hardened wireless, and will seamlessly integrate into Emerson’s industry-leading security and network management tools, including Emerson’s Plantweb Insight applications for Industrial IoT which help industrial facilities improve operations and maintenance by simplifying asset monitoring.
The “Wireless Wars” are long over. We just don’t hear much about wireless sensor networks anymore. They work. People use them. However, one of the dreams of these included the thought of spreading low-cost sensors around the plant so that managers, operators, and engineers could have more knowledge of the status of the plant.
Dave Smith (CEO) and Chuck Micallef (CMO), a couple of gentlemen I’ve known for years, stopped me at the ARC Forum a few weeks ago to tell me about a new, lower cost wireless sensor system.
Wireless Industrial Networks (WIN) announced a cost-effective wireless process sensing and condition-based monitoring solution. The wireless products include a Gateway, Universal Transmitter and selection of measurement sensors. WIN’s wireless solutions are designed to change the way the industry thinks about industrial wireless.
The products are simple to select, easy to use and have a significantly lower price than most other alternatives. Wireless applications are easier to justify and faster to start-up than wired. The communication transmission is industry standard 900 MHz, is license free, and has a range of 5,280 feet. The self-configuring communication network is “plug & play” and will be working in minutes rather than hours and requires no prior wireless experience. The complete price for a single measurement starts at just $1,300.00!
“Our products are designed to address the general purpose, condition-based monitoring applications which make up a large percentage of all automation applications,” says Smith, CEO and Owner of WIN. “Our cost-effective wireless solutions give you everything you need and nothing that you don’t! Not all applications require expensive explosion-proof devices so why pay for what you don’t need? Our customers want simple, easy-to-use, cost-effective wireless measurement solutions to address the ever-increasing need for additional measurement without the high engineering and wiring cost.”
The WIN wireless solution consist of 4 items:
- Wireless Gateway – a small, lightweight, 900 MHz communication gateway with standard Ethernet output and supports 200+ transmitters located 5,280 feet away.
- Universal Wireless Transmitter – battery (replaceable) powered transmitter accepts up to 3 universal sensor inputs, mix of any sensor measurement types, 900 MHz, IEEE 802.15.4 standard radio, frequency-hopping, auto configure and AES 128-bit industry standard encryption in a small light-weight NEMA 4x enclosure.
- Sensors – a complete line of measurement sensors using our V-Bus patented technology uniquely characterizes each sensor with a pre-programing calibration curve eliminating the need for on-site calibration, Sensors include temperature, pressure, 4-20 mA, current voltage, humidity/temperature, dual temperature, vibration, discrete, proximity and more.
- DataManager and Web Dashboard – these PC-based software applications are included with the gateway and provide a clear, simple to understand status of all network sensors and is an intuitive navigation tool used to access sensor details and measurement history. Features include: scaled engineering unit, alarm settings, bright easy-to-see measurement status indicators, measurement groups, email/text message for alerts and more.
Common applications include: motor temperature and current draw, pump vibration, bearing vibration or temperature monitoring, conveyor vibration monitoring, exhaust and cooling tower fan monitoring, filter monitoring and many more. The products are flexible and reliable.
Imagine what you could know about your plant or factory if you could get many more sensors around the area. This was the dream behind the development of robust wireless sensor networks for industrial and manufacturing applications.
Here is a new entrant bearing much promise. Swift Sensors Inc. debuted Dec. 8 as an Industrial IoT company providing a cloud-based wireless sensor system for industrial and commercial applications. The company fundamentally replaces a hodge-podge of manual processes and disparate sensors with a low-cost, unified sensor system delivering real-time actionable data — dramatically transforming business process efficiency and reliability. Swift Sensors technology monitors temperature, humidity, vibration, motion, activity, location, electric voltage and current.
“Businesses are frequently limited in their ability to efficiently monitor critical equipment and processes because of expensive, manual traditional systems. Swift Sensors extends the reach and efficiency of sensor monitoring, while offering new opportunities to enhance performance using analytics and optimization,” said Sam Cece, CEO of Swift Sensors. “Our low-cost, instant deployment allows businesses to rapidly adapt to regulatory compliance initiatives and commence predictive maintenance programs.”
Swift Sensors released its cloud wireless sensor system after 18 months of development and successful deployment with various customers, including Kraft Heinz, Sysco Foods, and McDonalds.
“We deployed hundreds of wireless sensors from Swift Sensors to upgrade our existing sensors and automate our manual monitoring processes. My team now focuses their time on important daily tasks rather than manually checking temperatures or equipment status. We’ve saved hundreds of hours in productivity during the past year and improved operations,” said William Thacker, Engineering Supervisor at the Kraft Heinz Company.
Swift Sensor’s next generation cloud wireless sensor system includes customizable real-time monitoring, alerts and analytics. The company’s mission is to improve business efficiency and reliability by making actionable data and analytics globally accessible; providing businesses a way to actively avoid disasters rather than passively waiting to remedy costly failures.
A variety of industrial, commercial and service businesses can now take advantage of Swift Sensors affordable, scalable sensor system, integrating their sensor data across multiple areas for maximum impact. Sample sectors include:
- Food chain (including FSMA compliance)
- IT Data Centers
- Research & Development
Low Cost & Scalable, with Actionable Data
Swift Sensors gives companies a cost-effective way to accelerate a broad range of business goals:
- Companies place the Swift Sensors plug and play matchbook-size wireless sensors wherever they would like to capture data and insights from their physical environment.
- The sensors transmit the relevant data via either Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or RF to a Swift Sensors Bridge, a small appliance that connects the sensors to the secure Swift Sensors Cloud using Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and/or cellular communication.
- Administrators then utilize the Swift Sensors web-based dashboard to configure the sensor system for data monitoring and analysis from any location.
Authorized company employees use the cloud-based dashboard to access sensor data and, based on their role, sophisticated analytics using their desktop and mobile devices. Businesses can create reports and send notifications via email/SMS/phone call based on customizable thresholds.
Pricing and Availability
The Swift Sensors Cloud Wireless Sensor System is available immediately. Individual sensor and bridge appliance pricing start at $79 and $349, respectively, with a low monthly cloud subscription fee for access to the Swift Sensors Dashboard with an unlimited number of users.
Swift Sensors Founding Team
Swift Sensors was founded in May 2015 and began development immediately. The three founders are Dean Drako – Executive Chairman, Sam Cece – CEO, and Dr. Kelly Jones – CTO.
Dean Drako has founded and run several successful companies. He is best known as former president and CEO of Barracuda Networks, which he founded to solve the spam and email security problem, growing the company from a concept to become a cloud and IT security industry leader with more than $200 million in annual sales, 1000 employees, and 150,000 customers.
Sam Cece was previously CEO of Virtual Bridges and CloudTools, acquired by Nimboxx and SolarWinds respectively. As CEO of StrongMail Systems, he expanded the company’s initial customer base to hundreds of business customers; StrongMail was named to the 2012 Forrester Wave Report shortlist.
Kelly Jones was Engineering VP for Virtual Bridges/Cloudtools. Previously, he was a Director at Dell, managing technology teams supporting the majority of Dell’s operational public cloud environment and accounted for 80% of Dell’s SaaS revenue. Jones was also: VP of technology for Message One, acquired by Dell, meeting all delivery dates and achieving 99.999% service availability; founder of PANACYA, acquired by Research in Motion; and Chief Security Scientist for Computer Associates Int’l.
Enabling Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Reliability, Scalability, and pursuing Real ROI encompass the current mantra of Fluke. Maybe you only know that company for its multimeters or infrared cameras. Well, there is much more behind the curtain.
The company has focused product development on mobile solutions, wireless communications, and data. This quarter’s product releases reflect all of that.
The new Fluke Ti450 Infrared Camera takes focus to a new level of clarity with MultiSharp Focus. An out-of-focus thermal image can give you data that may lead to misdiagnosis — potentially costing you thousands — with no way to correct it once it has been captured, short of taking new images. This new infrared camera solves this problem by delivering images automatically focused throughout the field of view.
“We are excited to announce this new technology, because it makes a real difference in situations where you have objects at multiple distances that you want in focus. Places like substations, motors driving a long production line, or electrical panels with components at varying depths,” notes Chris Rayburn, thermography business director.
MultiSharp Focus is a new technology that rapidly takes multiple images and combines them to produce one in-focus image. The advanced focusing system enables users to capture an automated, focused image of multiple targets at once, delivering the image clarity needed by professional thermographers and maintenance managers to produce top-quality results and avoid costly rework.
Today’s industrial machinery is more reliable and efficient, but can also be more difficult to troubleshoot because of the complexities of its advanced systems. The new Fluke ScopeMeter 120B Series Industrial Handheld Oscilloscope features Connect-and-View technology that recognizes signal patterns and automatically sets up the scope’s triggering, amplitude, and time base eliminating the typical trial-and-error setup process. Once the waveform is captured, the new IntellaSet intelligent measurement detection automatically selects key measurements based on the acquired waveform type and displays the most relevant measurement values (for example, Vrms and Hz for a line voltage signal, or Vpeak-peak and Hz for a square wave), helping technicians easily identify and characterize potential signal faults.
The 120B Series also features Event Capture function that captures and identifies elusive intermittent events and lists all those events that exceed a predetermined threshold. This lets technicians identify key events quickly, rather than combing through large data sets, reading by reading.
The Industrial Internet of Things is all about connections and data. As part of Fluke Connect— a system of wireless test tools that communicate via the Fluke Connect app, or Fluke Connect Assets software, a cloud-based solution that gathers measurements to provide a comprehensive view of critical equipment status — the 120B Series can automatically record waveform data to the Fluke Connect app on smartphones or tablets ensuring accuracy and eliminating manual recording of data. Those measurements are then wirelessly uploaded to the cloud and can be combined with measurement data from multiple Fluke Connect test tools to create and share reports from the job site via email and collaborate in real time with other colleagues, increasing productivity in the field. Storing then comparing and contrasting waveforms of specific asset test points over time enables maintenance engineers to better identify and troubleshoot conditions that can lead to failures.
Fluke introduces Work Orders, the latest enhancement to the Fluke Connect Assets, an asset management software solution that works with the Fluke Connect system of wireless test tools. Using this new Fluke Connect Assets feature maintenance managers can:
- View complete work order history coupled with measurement data related to a specific plant asset
- Create work orders from anywhere
- Confidently assign the job to the appropriate technician and balance the task with other work orders in the system.
Technicians are provided with actual measurement data right in the work order allowing them to better understand the problem and work instructions.
The Fluke Connect system allows entire maintenance teams to capture and wirelessly share data via their smartphones. Using the AutoRecord feature measurements are transferred directly from Fluke Connect wireless test tools – eliminating transcription errors – and can be uploaded to FlukeCloud storage. Measurements can be assigned to a specific asset for sharing and analysis. Technicians can collaborate with their colleagues to discuss problems while sharing data and images in real time with ShareLive video calls, which speeds problem solving, decision-making and approvals.
Often the most frustrating task for electricians and maintenance technicians is to troubleshoot intermittent faults because they rarely occur at convenient times. The new Fluke Connect-enabled 370 FC Series Clamp Meters log measurements to pinpoint intermittent faults precisely without the need for the technician to be present. Those measurements are then wirelessly transmitted to the Fluke Connect app on smartphones or tablets and automatically uploaded to the cloud, keeping technicians outside the arc flash zone and away from dangerous moving machinery, improving safety.
The CAT IV 600 V, CAT III 1000 V safety-rated clamp meters offer advanced troubleshooting performance to capture a wide range of measurements with a single tool, including:
- Proprietary in-rush measurement technology to filter out noise and capture motor starting current exactly as the circuit protection sees it;
- Integrated variable frequency drive low pass filter (376 FC and 375 FC models only) for accurate motor drive measurements;
- True-rms voltage and current for accurate measurements on non-linear signals;
- 500 mV dc measurement range to interface with other accessories (376 FC and 375 FC models only);
- Expanded measurement range to 2500 A ac with the iFlex flexible current probes, which provide access to large conductors in tight spaces.
As part of Fluke Connect— the industry’s largest system of software and more than 30 wireless test tools — technicians can wirelessly transmit measurement data from the 370 FC Series clamp meters and other test tools to their smartphones for secure storage on the Fluke Cloud and team access from the field. With the Fluke Connect smartphone app, technicians can combine measurement data from multiple Fluke Connect test tools to create and share reports from the job site via email and collaborate in real time with other colleagues with ShareLive video calls, increasing productivity in the field.