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Showing posts with label Short Range Wireless. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Short Range Wireless. Show all posts

Monday, 13 December 2010

6LoWPAN: Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks

From Wikipedia: 6lowpan is an acronym of IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks, or (as the "personal" qualification is no longer relevant), IPv6 over LoW Power wireless Area Networks. 6lowpan is the name of a working group in the internet area of the IETF. The 6lowpan group has defined encapsulation and header compression mechanisms that allow IPv6 packets to be sent to and received from over IEEE 802.15.4 based networks. IPv4 and IPv6 are the work horses for data delivery for local-area networks, metropolitan area networks, and wide-area networks such as the Internet.

There is a book from Wiley entitled "6LoWPAN: The Wireless Embedded Internet", which has a good definition and explanation of 6LoWPAN that I am using below. Wiley has excerpt from the book that details the complete introductory chapter.

As the Internet of routers, servers and personal computers has been maturing, another Internet revolution has been going on – The Internet of Things (see pic below). The vision behind the Internet of Things is that embedded devices, also called smart objects, are universally becoming IP enabled, and an integral part of the Internet. Examples of embedded devices and systems using IP today range from mobile phones, personal health devices and home automation, to industrial automation, smart metering and environmental monitoring systems. The scale of the Internet of Things is already estimated to be immense, with the potential of trillions of devices becoming IP-enabled. The impact of the Internet of Things will be significant, with the promise of better environmental monitoring, energy savings, smart grids, more efficient factories, better logistics, better healthcare and smart homes.


The Internet of Things can be understood as a layer of digital information that covers the physical world. Objects and places become part of the Internet of Things in two ways: First, data and information can be associated with a particular location, using geo-coordinates or a street address. Second with sensors and RFID tags or transmitters installed in these objects allowing then to be accessed via Internet protocols.

Remember, Ericsson has already predicted 50 Billion connected devices by 2050. See here.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) released the 802.15.4 lowpower wireless personal area network (WPAN) standard in 2003, which was a major milestone, providing the first global low-power radio standard. Soon after, the ZigBee Alliance developed a solution for ad hoc control networks over IEEE 802.15.4, and has produced a lot of publicity about the applications of wireless embedded technology. ZigBee and proprietary networking solutions that are vertically bound to a link-layer and application profiles only solve a small portion of the applications for wireless embedded networking. They also have problems with scalability, evolvability and Internet integration.

The IEEE 802.15.4 standard released in 2003 was the biggest factor leading to 6LoWPAN standardization. For the first time a global, widely supported standard for lowpower wireless embedded communications was available [IEEE802.15.4]. The popularity of this new standard gave the Internet community the needed encouragement to standardize an IP adaptation for such wireless embedded links.

The ideal use of 6LoWPAN is in applications where:
• embedded devices need to communicate with Internet-based services,
• low-power heterogeneous networks need to be tied together,
• the network needs to be open, reusable and evolvable for new uses and services, and
• scalability is needed across large network infrastructures with mobility.

Connecting the Internet to the physical world enables a wide range of interesting applications where 6LoWPAN technology may be applicable, for example:
• home and building automation
• healthcare automation and logistics
• personal health and fitness
• improved energy efficiency
• industrial automation
• smart metering and smart grid infrastructures
• real-time environmental monitoring and forecasting
• better security systems and less harmful defense systems
• more flexible RFID infrastructures and uses
• asset management and logistics
• vehicular automation

One interesting example application of 6LoWPAN is in facility management, which is the management of large facilities using a combination of building automation, asset management and other embedded systems. This quickly growing field can benefit from 6LoWPAN, is feasible with today’s technology, and has real business demand.

You can read more from the book on Wiley's website here.

More information on purchasing and reviews on Amazon's website below:



Wednesday, 3 November 2010

'Wi-Fi Direct': New Standard and competition to Femtocells and Bluetooth


Last month when I blogged about WiFi as 4G, i got mixed reactions. Some suggesting that WiFi is just a filler till Femtocells become prevalent and others suggested that in future all devices would with 3G/HSPA/LTE/4G enabled so there may be no need for WiFi.

Well, yesterday I read about the new Wi-Fi Direct (formerly known as 'Wi-Fi Peer-to-Peer') standard that is supposed to make WiFi devices easier to operate with other WiFi devices. I havent explored the security options but I am sure they are well thought out.

Before we go further, you may want to check out the WiFi Direct official video below:



There is an interesting piece in PC World that compares Bluetooth 4.0 with Wi-Fi Direct. I am sure soon both these camps would be listing the merit of their standards and dissing the other one. According to the Register, Bluetooth never really took off in the US. They think Wi-Fi has bigger clout and this would translate to WiFi Direct success.

WiFi Alliance has a recently revised FAQ on Wi-Fi Direct here. Very interesting read. A Media presentation is embedded below and can be downloaded from Slideshare here.

The devices have already started undergoing certification and commercial devices should be available by the end of this year.

Finally, while there is a lot of debate going on about WiFi v/s Femtocells and I respect everyone's views and arguments on this debate, I think Wi-Fi direct may give a kicking to the Femtocell manufacturers where it hurts the most.

One of the strong arguments in the favour of Femtocell is the seamless roaming. With Wi-Fi direct you may be able to seamlessly connect to various Wi-Fi devices and Access points. This certainly counts big time in their favour.

Certainly the gate is still wide open for some Femtocell based killer apps which would turn the tide in their favour but for now I am looking forward to some Wi-Fi direct devices.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Everyone is talking NFC



Its been over couple of years since I blogged about what NFC is. In fact successful trials in London occurred around that time but it seems the operators always had doubts.

Couple of months back, Nokia announced that from 2011, it will roll out NFC in all it phones. Here is an extract from the Register:

Nokia has announced that from next year every Nokia smartphone will have NFC, regardless of fact that the technology lacks a business model or any market demand.

The commitment was made during a speech by Nokia's VP for markets, Anssi Vanjoki to the Moby Forum, as
reported by NFC World. Vanjoki wouldn't be drawn on the company's smartphone plans, but did explain that every smartphone launched by Nokia would have an NFC component supporting the Single Wire Protocol (SWP) and MicroSD security, and probably a Nokia secure module too.

Once NFC is in a handset then one can do some interesting things with remote control of home electronics and Bluetooth pairing-by-tap, but none of that is the killer feature that NFC needs to make it viable.


Of course, the mobile industry isn't used to waiting for customer demand – no one ever requested a camera, or Bluetooth, those were pushed into punters' hands by operators (to sell MMS) and retailers (to sell headsets) respectively. But those were done by the network operators (which explains the popularity of Bluetooth in Europe, where operators own retailers).
Nokia, which has extensive IP in NFC, has spent a fortune trying to convince operators to back the technology, funding extensive trials and backing supportive research, but no matter how hard it tries, NFC just isn't desirable (at least until Apple puts it into an iPhone).


That was till last week. This week the news is out that Apple is testing NFC in iPhones. The following news from CNET:

Apple raised some eyebrows over the weekend when news spread it had hired an expert in mobile payments.

But now there's a report that says the company is already testing a prototype
iPhone with near-field communication (NFC) chips inside, which could pave the way for using future iPhones as a mobile wallet.

TechCrunch heard from an unnamed source that on Tuesday Apple is testing an iPhone with NFC chips it's ordered from NXP Semiconductor. It's not clear what kind of tests, and it could be very preliminary in nature. But coupled with the hire of Benjamin Vigier from mFoundry as mobile payments product manager, it does seem possible that Apple could be planning to open up its premier product to the world of commerce outside of iTunes.

In fact you may be able to do much more than mobile payments if Apple gets its way. You may be able to sync devices by touching each other. You can sync your MAC to iPhone or iPod. Here is a video showing some iPhone RFID demo, courtesy NFC world.

iPhone RFID: object-based media from timo on Vimeo.

In case you want to find difference between RFID and NFC, see here.

There is also an interesting article i read sometime back about when NTT DoCoMo will move to NFC. See here.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Essentials Of Short Range Wireless Standards

Essentials Of Short Range Wireless Standards presented by Nick Hunn, WiFore Consulting in Short Range Wireless Special Interest Group, 8th July 2010, The Technology Partnership (TTP), Cambridge.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

7Gbit/s can be delivered at 60GHz spectrum

From TechWorld:

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance has completed its specification for a technology to deliver as much as 7Gbit/s over a very high unlicensed frequency band.

The group, backed by wireless heavy hitters including Intel, Broadcom and Atheros Communications, announced the WiGig specification in May and said it would be finished by year's end. Though the standard is now written, it's still undergoing text editing and an intellectual-property review that the WiGig Alliance called routine.

WiGig was designed for very high speeds over a relatively small area, using the 60GHz band. It will have the capacity to deliver high-definition video streams or let users connect laptops to desktop docks and displays, the group has said. It will come to the fast home-networking market behind a few other technologies, including HomePNA, HomePlug, Multimedia over Coax, Ultrawideband and Wireless Home Digital Interface. However, WiGig's strong backing and relationship to Wi-Fi seem likely to give it a major boost.

The WiGig Alliance had said in May the specification would be available to members in the fourth quarter. It is available now to the member companies that helped develop it, but the group hasn't yet created its Adopter membership for companies that will simply use the technology, said Ali Sadri, chairman and president of the group. That will happen in the first quarter of next year, and the specification will be made available to them then. The group will set up a certification system next year and expects consumer products with WiGig to start hitting the market in 2011.

The group originally had said WiGig would have a top speed of about 6G bit/s but has raised that estimate. At that speed, WiGig will have about 10 times the capacity of the fastest Wi-Fi technology today, a form of IEEE 802.11n that offers 600Mbit/s. The 7Gbit/s figure represents the theoretical maximum speed, but the technology is highly efficient, so users should be able to use at least 80 percent of that bandwidth in the real world, Sadri said. On a WiGig LAN, the bandwidth would be shared among all the users on an access point.

Along with the completion of the specification, the WiGig Alliance said it has included a "beam-forming" feature that should allow WiGig networks to work over distances greater than 10 metres. Radios using high frequencies such as 60GHz fundamentally have a harder time transmitting data over long distances without repeaters. WiGig originally was envisaged as an in-room technology, but with the beam-forming feature it could more easily send data and content around a home.

The high 60GHz frequency at which WiGig runs is unlicensed in many parts of the world, including the U.S. The Wi-Fi Alliance is also developing a standard for high-speed wireless LANs at 60GHz, called IEEE 802.11AD, but the Wi-Fi Alliance has said WiGig seems to be complementary to Wi-Fi. Intel, Broadcom and Atheros all plan to integrate WiGig into Wi-Fi chipsets, and it could become part of a "tri-band Wi-Fi" that would let users migrate to WiGig for additional speed where it's available.

The WiGig specification was written so that it could be made an amendment to the 802.11 standards, with backward compatibility, Sadri said.

All WiGig equipment will be able to communicate at the basic level of exchanging IP (Internet Protocol) packets, but the alliance is also developing protocol adaptation layers to optimize the performance of specific applications, said Mark Grodzinsky, marketing chair of the WiGig Alliance. For example, any two WiGig products will be able to stream video to each other, but with a special protocol adaptation layer they might be able to do it with less delay and without compression, he said.

The WiGig Alliance has also announced that Nvidia, Advanced Micro Devices, SK Telecom and TMC, an independent testing and certification lab in China, have joined the group of about 30 companies.

For details see: http://wirelessgigabitalliance.org/


Monday, 7 December 2009

ZigBee and Short Range Wireless Overview

Couple of interesting presentations are available on the Cambridge Wireless website for Short range Wireless technologies and ZigBee.

The First one, "ZigBee® Applications in sub-1GHz Frequency Range" is available here.

The Second one, "SHORT RANGE WIRELESS OVERVIEW" is available here.




The above is an interesting chart from the second presentation showing the comparison of different short range wireless technologies.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Evolution Of Bluetooth

Last week I had an opportunity to attend a Short Range Wireless SIG (special interest group) conference organised by Cambridge Wireless. The conference was about Bluetooth technology, where it’s heading and future of Bluetooth. Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed around 10 years ago. Bluetooth SIG is privately held non profit organisation whose main tasks are to publish Bluetooth specifications, administer the qualification program, protect the Bluetooth trademarks and evangelize Bluetooth wireless technology.


The Bluetooth SIG global headquarters are in Bellevue, Washington, USA and has local offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, China, Seoul, Korea, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Taiwan and Malmo, Sweden
During the presentation in the conference there were discussions on technical and general stuff about short range wireless and hence I learned some amazing things especially about Bluetooth technology and its application in our daily life. Although my expertise and main focus lies in the area of 3GPP technology i.e. HSPA+, LTE etc I occasionally do pay an interest in Bluetooth and other W-Fi technologies. After attending the SIG conference I do know now that there are some amazing things that can be done with Bluetooth other than just using it as a Hands free kit while talking on you mobile. There are already around 2 billion Bluetooth enabled devices in various forms in the market place.

In terms of business there is also an enormous scope to develop customized applications that can work with Bluetooth and UWB (ultra-wide band, ultraband, etc.).

UWB is advanced form of Bluetooth where the MAC/PHY layer is changed to accommodate high data rates.

UWB is a radio technology that can be used at very low energy levels for short-range high-bandwidth communications by using a large portion of the radio spectrum thus enabling higher data rates. UWB communications transmit in a way that doesn't interfere largely with other more traditional 'narrow band' and continuous carrier wave uses in the same frequency band. IEEE 802.15.4a in its draft standard and working group has proposed UWB as an alternative PHY layer.

Low energy Bluetooth is another emerging flavour which will be talked very often in the coming days. Bluetooth low energy is the next generation of wireless standard from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) addressing a completely new set of applications but building on the installed base of Bluetooth devices. As the name implies devices based on Bluetooth low energy consumes only a fraction of the power of the classic Bluetooth radio thus allowing small and low cost implementations.

Bluetooth low energy technology is designed with two equally important implementation options:

  • Single-mode (stand-alone) implementation: Targeted at applications requiring low power consumption and small size; typically button cell battery -powered devices, for e.g. sports & fitness equipment and sensor devices
  • Dual-mode implementation - an extension to a classic Bluetooth radio: Targeted at mobile phones and PCs.

Bluetooth low energy is very robust through frequency hopping compared to other similar technologies. It is very secure through optional 128 bit AES encryption.
The significant factor of Bluetooth low energy is its low power consumption which is by very low standby activity, fast connection setup and low overhead in data packets.

Bluetooth low energy technology explores new market opportunities. It is sometimes unbelievable to see where and how Bluetooth low energy technology can be used. One of the most amazing uses of this technology which I came across was when I came to know that a double amputee can walk again using Bluetooth. Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bleill (USA Army) lost both his legs above the knees when a bomb exploded under his Humvee while on patrol in Iraq on October 15, 2006. He has 32 pins in his hip and a 6-inch screw holding his pelvis together.




Now, he's starting to walk again with the help of prosthetic legs outfitted with Bluetooth technology more commonly associated with hands-free cell phones.
Bluetooth is definitely evolving and low energy Bluetooth is very much part of its evolution. The technology has a major parto play in our daily lives and the currently the Sports and Health Care is the significant area where the major focus is lying.

Bluetooth Low energy has a major role to play in sports and fitness. I personally has experienced the use of the Bluetooth device when I visit to Gym. I have to put the device around my chest and the machine then displays my heart rate transmitted by the Bluetooth device. This is amazing as I can constantly monitor my heart rate and based on that I can vary the intensity of my workout.

Thus sports person has sensors i.e Bluetooth device located on the body, shoes, garments and other fitness gear measuring the exercise session such as duration, speed, distance, cadence, slope, location, heart rate, energy consumption etc. Together with this information, when using GPS location related information can be combined with the data. Thus using a Bluetooth device is like training with a virtual partner. The use of the application can motivate and give feedback to the user and remote users, e.g. coach, team mate or a virtual partner. They can access the data remotely and then make decisions based on it for example the exercise can be simulated on exercise bike or treadmill along with multimedia content.



Low energy Bluetooth device thus helps play a significant role in sports persons real time activity and training monitoring.

I have seen Golfers using Bluetooth devices to record their swing. Golfers can thus monitor the real time data and thus can improve their swing. Golf player’s motions are recorded with sensor devices and the data is uploaded to a host device. The recorded data or values are transmitted to web service where the athletes can be remotely monitored online or offline by coach, audience, etc.

Health care is another major area where low energy Bluetooth devices have a significant role to play. There is a potentially market of greater than US$1 Billion for wireless health monitoring products. Examples of currently available medical devices using “Classic” Bluetooth technology are:

  • ECG Monitors
  • Cardiac Defibrillators
  • Blood Glucose Meters
  • Insulin Pumps
  • Pulse Oximeters
  • Blood pressure Monitors
  • Weight Scales

Examples of healthcare devices suited to Bluetooth low energy technology, requiring very low power and long battery life are:

  • Thermometer
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Weight Scale
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • PERS
  • Blood Glucose Meter

Let’s consider the example of how the technology can help in the case of Diabetes management. The patient will be fitted with a small low energy Bluetooth device i.e. Blood Glucose meters typically powered by small coin batteries, operating for a year or more. Blood glucose measurement, data is automatically sent to the mobile phone and to the central Personal Health Record. Patient and care providers automatically alerted if the sugar level is outside preset limits and reminders and advice can be sent back to the patient and test compliance can be monitored.

Low energy Bluetooth devices can used in the consumer electrnics control as shownin the picture below.


I must say I was really impressed to finds out how the Bluetooth technology can be used in our daily life. Just by using a simple and small device many patients life can be saved as they are monitored constantly.