Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Jim O’Callaghan and Ken Sinclair
Jim O’Callaghan, President of EnOcean Inc. and member of the EnOcean Alliance Marketing Working Group North America
Next year’s Connection Community
Collaboration meeting will discuss the
Internet of Things. The IoT spans hundreds of different application
fields, more than any other trend topic we’ve seen in the past years.
Can wireless building automation contribute to an IoT?
EnOcean has been active for more than 10 years in what is now
popularly called the IoT. Wires have always been a significant cost
factor in building automation. The installation effort constrains a
system’s expandability and therefore limits its value. Switching
to wireless solutions overcame these limits and ensured flexibility in
system implementation. However, substituting wires with batteries
created additional requirements for maintenance and proper disposal.
Only sensors and switches freed from
batteries finally solved this major challenge in building automation.
The ultra-low power EnOcean standard combines maintenance-free sensor
data transmission with high flexibility – a compelling requirement of
Sinclair: So, IoT can learn from building automation?
O’Callaghan: Absolutely! I would even state that batteryless wireless building automation is a manifestation of IoT, just named differently. Sensors that collect and send the needed data for the IoT must be ultra-low power to be viable within a system. This means the IoT's sensor network cannot be based upon a power hungry wireless standard that requires AC power or very short battery life. Rather, the optimal system is a wireless standard supporting the low data rates required by sensors, but with sufficient range and energy efficiency to eliminate batteries and wires. Nevertheless, for intelligent processing and controlling of the collected data, there is the need for a WAN to connect to the Internet, GSM or a cloud service. The marriage is realized by receivers and gateways that transform the data from the energy efficient protocol to IP standards. There is an established field where this functionality is employed every day: building automation.
What are the primary
characteristics of the IoT to reach a broad user acceptance?
Billions of devices need to be
initially installed and configured.
Isn’t this installation effort a significant hurdle of an IoT, even
when using maintenance-free sensors?
O’Callaghan: Sure, ease
of installation is essential. Comprehensive networking
requires simplified and user-friendly processes for a broad acceptance.
This is the case for building networks as well as for an
interconnection that covers several areas as the IoT is supposed to do.
For building automation networks, the EnOcean Alliance has defined a
standardized process for remote commissioning of energy harvesting
wireless devices. This enables installers and system integrators to
remotely connect batteryless wireless devices using a central tool.
This “over the air commissioning” with a simple tool is key for all
kind of networking. Users can do even advanced settings via a remote
commissioning interface, locate wireless devices throughout the
network, create links, and configure settings via PC, tablet or
smartphone without touching a single sensor.
Besides simplified remote commissioning, interoperability is a critical aspect. This entails not only the wireless communication. Data interoperability ensures that a device made by one OEM can understand the data from another manufacturer. This approach of seamless communication is a major task of the EnOcean Alliance. Its Technical Working Group continuously further develops this to meet the requirements of new devices, such as multifunction sensors, and of new applications. The latest developments in this field are Generic Profiles. They define grammatical rules for all options of data encoding for ultra-low power and energy harvesting radio communication. Due to this generic language, the same product can be mapped dynamically to different applications. Generic Profiles offer a standardized path for present and future applications.
The essence of an IoT is the combination of both, easy and remote network access together with an application-crossing communication.
Sounds like the EnOcean Alliance
is well positioned for the requirements of the IoT?
Thank you very much, Jim. I’m
looking forward to seeing you at
Connection Community Collaboration meeting for further discussions on
this exciting topic.
About the Speaker
Jim O'Callaghan has spent his career
building brands, customers and
value for a host of innovative technology companies, both public and
private. He spent the first dozen years primarily in finance and
accounting positions, culminating as CFO participating in two
successful IPOs. For many years, Jim has worked almost exclusively in
sales, marketing and management roles, both with technology and with RF
ventures. He is best known as co-founder of Cirque Corporation, the
originator of touchpad pointing devices common on virtually all
notebook computers. In 2005 Jim joined EnOcean to establish a North
American presence. Jim has a BBA in accounting and an MBA.
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