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Showing posts with label WPAN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WPAN. 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: