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Internet network group grows 50%; interoperability test event planned in March

10 February 2009

Texas Instruments, National Instruments, Landis+Gyr join others in promoting use of Internet Protocol (IP) for sensor-equipped smart objects. The IP for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance has grown its membership by more than 50 per cent since its formation by 25 founding companies in September 2008, adding Texas Instruments, National Instruments, Landis+Gyr/Cellnet and 10 other new members.

Internet network group has prompted a collaboration of some of the industry’s major players
Internet network group has prompted a collaboration of some of the industry’s major players

The alliance says it has set an agenda of multi-vendor product interoperability tests for 2009, with the first test event scheduled for March.

The IPSO Alliance promotes the concept that the Internet Protocol (IP) is the networking technology best suited for connecting sensor-equipped or ‘smart’ objects and delivering information gathered by those objects. Smart objects transmit information about their condition or environment (such as temperature, light, motion, health status) to locations where the information can be analysed, correlated with other data and acted upon. They are used in factory automation, safety and industrial settings, asset tracking, automated homes and offices, hospital patient monitoring, and many other applications.

‘Our first few months as an organisation have yielded results exceeding our expectations,’ said Geoff Mulligan, IPSO Alliance chairman. ‘The “Internet of Things” and the IPSO Alliance were included in Time Magazine's 50 “Best Inventions of 2008.” We've seen strong cross-industry participation from semiconductor makers, software companies and systems integrators. Most significantly, more... utilities and OEMs are viewing embedded IP as the long-term solution - and proprietary approaches and ad-hoc alliances as merely an interim step. They are recognising that only IP can support a wide variety of networking technologies with the needed scalability and interoperability that organisations require.’

IPSO is planning up to three large-scale interoperability test events in 2009. The first event, slated for March 4, will test end-to-end IP- based interoperability across the Internet via the next-generation IPv6 protocol over local (wireless or wired) and wide-area communication media. The event will demonstrate open international standards-based sensor networking solutions that deliver the global scalability, security, performance and flexibility needed for future applications.

The test site will be located in the San Francisco Bay Area, but, since IP is used virtually everywhere, companies anywhere on the globe can participate in the test as if they were at the local site.

Test events later in the year will include demonstrations of multi-vendor devices communicating within a sensor network using the IETF 6LoWPAN (RFC 4944) standard for IPv6 over low-power wireless personal-area networks. Each subsequent test will increase the scope of vendors and the diversity of media types (such as IEEE 802.15.4, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, WiMAX, and others) interoperating. Ethernet protocols are widely used in automation.

Mulligan also noted that other standards, such as ISA100 for industrial wireless sensor networks, are using embedded IP and 6LoWPAN formatting, and that more than a dozen embedded IP stacks are now available for Atmel, TI, Freescale, Jennic and Hitachi microcontrollers, along with a number of open-source stacks, some less than 20 kilobytes in code size.

New members joining the IPSO Alliance since September 2008 include Centria, ELIKO, Ericsson, Gainspan, Kitworks, Landis+Gyr/Cellnet, Lulea University of Technology, Mocana, National Instruments, Primex, SmartSynch, Texas Instruments and TZ/Intevia.

Founding members are Arch Rock, Atmel, Cimetrics, Cisco, Duke Energy, Dust Networks, eka systems, EDF (Électricité de France) R&D, Emerson, Freescale, IP Infusion, Jennic, Kinney Consulting, Nivis, PicosNet, Proto6, ROAM, SAP, Sensinode, SICS, Silver Spring Networks, Sun Microsystems, University of Tampere, Watteco and Zensys.

IPSO Alliance says it intends to complement the efforts of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which develop and ratify technical standards in the Internet community. Membership is said to be open to any organisation advocating an IP-based approach to connecting smart objects.

Edited by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief
Control Engineering News Desk


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