April 2006

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.

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Forecast: Connectivity Clouds on the Horizon

  Ken Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.com

As published

April Issue - Column 

The wireless storm that blew out of the windy city at this year’s AHR Expo is forming connectivity clouds on our horizons. 

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Control Solutions, Inc

Is this a change in the weather?  I am not sure of that, but a change in our industry I am sure of. The excitement that was in Chicago is spreading across the country following the crowd to BuilConn in Palm Springs

From an article in our March issue written by this year’s AHR Expo Innovation Winner called

Wireless! Building Automation Unwired John Edler and Weilin Wang, Kiyon Inc


The following; Using one wireless backbone for several systems can reduce engineering, construction, commissioning and operating cost over the entire life of the building. 

The article goes on; Wireless technology has been shown to be a cost effective solution for building control systems, enabling wireless mobility for building personnel, and bridging several networks for interoperability for these devices to communicate over the same network. This abridged article is intended to help the readers get acquainted with the basics of wireless technology.

The majority of network topologies and protocols in use around the world today utilize a TCP/IP protocol. With a TCP/IP wireless network, many applications like VoIP, video and BACnet/IP can be readily supported using the same network infrastructure. Protocols like BACnet/MSTP and LONWorks can be encapsulated in IP packets and transported over the same network.

Siemens created a storm in the connectivity clouds with their press release published prior to AHR Expo. Siemens: Introduces First Wireless Building Automation System. An extract from this release follows;

“Our customers continue to rely on us to provide innovative building automation technologies that deliver true value to their operations,” said Rick LeBlanc, Sr. vice president, and head of Siemens Building Automation Division. “While the potential of wireless should be obvious, the technology only has value to our customers if proven and ready for the rigors of real-world application.”

In a further email discussion Rick LeBlanc stated; SBT is: Committed to leadership in wireless and MEMS (tiny micro-electromechanical systems) and is positioned as a master integrator - DDC, fire, security, energy services with linkage to enterprise systems Exploring strategic alliances for other building systems.

In a February interview on our web site; Ember and STMicroelectronics partnership boosts the ZigBee market with Bob Metcalfe the chairman and interim CEO for Ember Corporation who is also a high-tech venture capitalist at Polaris Venture. In 1973, he invented Ethernet at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. In 1979, he founded 3Com Corporation and took it public in 1984.

Bob provides clarity to the clouds on the horizon and states;

ZigBee is a wireless, standards-based radio technology that addresses the unique needs of remote monitoring, control and sensor network applications. It will play an increasing role in enabling embedded networks for building automation. ZigBee is not just low-power radio standards (802.15.4), but also wireless mesh radio protocol stack standards.

Ember's EM260 ZigBee co-processor will soon be available from ST mostly for their OEM customers and from Ember for everyone else's. For example, Siemens, Hitachi and Andover Controls are all developing control systems based on our technology. Our central offer to these customers is to put the EM260 next to existing micro-controllers and connect them up with the standard serial interface. We are offering an open-source programming interface to the Ember ZigBee Serial Protocol (EZSP). Code running on application micro-controllers designed for building controls can use EZSP to talk to their EM260s and thereby become ZigBee-enabled.

Control Solutions, Inc Are you now feeling a little in the clouds and disconnected with the future?

Here is a chance to catch up with Anto Budiardjo’s BuilConn event in Palm Springs.

From the very first BuilConn in 2003, the event’s vision has been to connect people with each other so that devices and systems can be better connected. The name BuilConn is no accident, it’s about Building Connectivity (“building” both as a verb and a noun). BuilConn is the only venue focused on this very important subject, not about the disciplines of HVAC, security, lighting, IT or any of the other systems found in buildings, but about connecting them with each other, and extracting their true value.

The supporters of BuilConn are evolving to be a veritable list of connectivity-centric companies and organizations: LONMARK, BACnet, oBIX, OASIS, OPC, ZigBee and CABA to name a few, and commercial support from Cisco, Tridium, Gridlogix, Lantronix, Cimetrics and many others. It’s also not an accident that BuilConn is co-located with events that also focus on connectivity, M2M in generic devices and GridWise Expo for the smart Grid.

The challenge at BuilConn this year is to establish the value of building information systems. We have the technology, we have the infrastructure, we have the attention of the buildings and IT industries, we have the demand from corporations who own buildings, and now we have a way to measure the value of connectivity.

It is time to turn connectivity into new business opportunities.  www.builconn.com 


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