Wireless Sensor Network Success Story

Wireless Sensor Network Success Story

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 Those Internet of Things End Devices

Connecting Those Internet of Things End Devices

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

Emerson Automation Extends Its Wireless Reach

Emerson Automation Extends Its Wireless Reach

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.

Let’s Tour Dell EMS IoT Booth At Its User Conference

Let’s Tour Dell EMS IoT Booth At Its User Conference

Dell EMS Internet of Things (IoT) group assembled a mini supply chain as its booth at the user conference Dell EMS World in Las Vegas in May. At the October Dell EMS World in Austin, these were put together as an ice cream factory and distribution, and the booth featured an ice cream machine. I sure could have used an ice cream by the time I got through all the exhibits.

The Dell IoT Gateway was the common denominator of the exhibit tying everything together.

The first station features construction. Here are a couple of guys trying out the DAQRI augmented reality helmets. I had the opportunity to try these in Hannover. A really cool application of AR.

They are looking at a combination of the construction (see the red “steel” framework) and drawings that show the layout of electrical conduit, HVAC ducting, and other details. As a construction worker, they can get a feel of where things go, as well as spot interferences the designer missed.

This station showed product on its way to market through sensing and communication from Nokia.

Below is a layout of the Emerson process manufacturing system.

They brought actual pipe, pump, motor, instruments, wirelessHART communication. No, it didn’t make ice cream.

This station featured IMS Evolve–an application that brings sensor data into the cloud and provides track and trace, as well as other analytics, assuring the safety of the food product through the supply chain from the point of view of proper temperature.

Don’t forget security! Here is a photo of a physical security video system from V5.

The Dell Gateway is an edge device capable of accumulating data from the disparate sources, performing storage and analysis at the edge then sending information to the cloud for further analysis.  It seems that everywhere I go, the “edge” is the place where innovation is centered right now. This simple demo showed the power of the edge.

Low Cost Wireless Solutions for the Automation Markets

Low Cost Wireless Solutions for the Automation Markets

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:

  1. Wireless Gateway – a small, lightweight, 900 MHz communication gateway with standard Ethernet output and supports 200+ transmitters located 5,280 feet away.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


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