March 2007
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AutomatedBuildings.com

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  William LaPointeEMAIL INTERVIEW - William LaPointe & Ken Sinclair

William LaPointe - President and CEO, Spinwave Systems, Inc.

As the company's president and CEO, Bill is responsible for Spinwave's strategic direction and general management. Bill brings more than 25 years of building automation experience to Spinwave Systems and has a proven track record of growing a startup company to industry leadership. Bill was the President of Andover Controls Corporation, a leading supplier of DDC systems to the Building Automation market, from Sept. 1979 to its acquisition by Schneider Electric in 2004. Under his direction, Andover grew from 9 employees and under $1M in annual revenue to over 650 employees and revenues of $170M. Prior to Andover Controls, Bill held positions of financial and operations management with companies in the general industrial, computing, and defense industries. He holds and M.S. degree in Accounting from Bentley College and a B.A. degree in finance from Northeastern University. 


New Standard in Wireless Sensors for the Building Automation Market

Wireless sensors and networking have the potential to transform the building automation market due to lower installation costs and flexibility that will support a range of applications that were not feasible or possible with a conventional wired system.

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Sinclair:  Tell me a little bit about Spinwave Systems.

LaPointe:  Spinwave Systems is an exciting new company developing next generation wireless sensor networking products designed specifically for commercial building automation to enable highly energy-efficient building operations and productive and healthy environments.

Spinwave’s patent-pending product architecture, A3, differentiates us from our competition as we are setting a new standard for wireless sensor networks in the commercial building automation market.  Our products deliver ultra-high reliability, efficiency and performance, all critically important for deployed wireless sensors within today’s commercial building environment.

Sinclair:  I notice that Spinwave Systems’ is targeting the commercial building automation market. Is that correct?

LaPointe:  Yes. Spinwave’s products are designed specifically for the building automation market. 

Wireless sensors and networking have the potential to transform the building automation market due to lower installation costs and flexibility that will support a range of applications that were not feasible or possible with a conventional wired system. In addition, renewed interest in energy conservation is driving growth in the building controls industry and is stimulating interest and demand for wireless systems. Over the long term, we believe wireless technology will be used for energy services, continuous commissioning, condition monitoring and other applications that will improve occupant comfort and enhance employee productivity.

 Sinclair:  What makes your products well suited for the building automation market?

LaPointe:  Our wireless sensors are an ideal alternative to traditional wired sensors. They provide an economical means to increase building efficiency and occupant comfort and are perfect for retrofits, fast track projects and unique installations where a traditional wired solution is either too expensive or physically impossible.

For the building automation system integrator, cost savings begin immediately as wire and conduit are eliminated and installation and commissioning time is reduced from days to mere hours. Spinwave’s wireless sensors easily interface to the broadest range of building automation systems allowing a system integrator a high degree of integration flexibility. In addition, a field-friendly deployment tool set offers a high degree of on-site capability to ensure successful site planning, installation and commissioning.

In addition, Spinwave’s wireless sensing products offer system integrators the potential for an exciting new business model that will enable them to expand and diversify their services into areas such as continuous commissioning, monitoring and verification.

Sinclair:  What are some of the challenges for wireless technology in building automation applications and how do your products address them?

LaPointe:  By far, the two biggest challenges facing wireless technology in building automation applications today are reliability and ease of use.

The number one cause of poor reliability in sensor data transmission is interference caused by other RF devices. As the use of wireless grows in popularity, wireless networks are exposed to an increasing number of interference sources such as WiFi, microwaves, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, RFID and other wireless sensor networks. Most wireless sensor networks perform well in a “clean” RF environment after initial installation, however, the real challenge lies in maintaining good performance as the deployment of additional RF sources in a building increases.

Spinwave’s leading-edge techniques eliminate the common problem of poor reliability in sensor data transmission caused by other RF devices. As such, we are able to offer the industry’s most reliable wireless sensor network. Our unique technology further serves to minimize power consumption while optimizing data throughput resulting in a robust, scalable wireless sensor network that delivers ultra-high reliability, even in the harshest of RF environments.

As for the issue of ease of use, our wireless sensor network is the industry’s easiest to deploy. Our wireless sensor solutions are easy to install, integrate, commission and maintain.  All of that has been made possible by our intuitive commissioning and maintenance tool, NetQuest™.  NetQuest was specifically designed for installers to deploy, commission and troubleshoot our products in a fast, efficient manner.

Reliable Controls Sinclair:  What is so unique about Spinwave’s RF technology, A3?

LaPointe:  Spinwave’s RF technology is second generation. We have learned from the mistakes made by the early ZigBee adopters and have developed a set of patent-pending techniques that deliver industry-leading reliability, efficiency and performance.

Spinwave’s A3 technology is comprised of three leading-edge techniques designed to dynamically switch RF channels and hop or “spin” around detected RF interference on a time-specific basis. These three techniques, known as Temporal Agility, Spatial Agility and Density Agility, collectively perform dynamic adaptive channel hopping in multiple dimensions, resulting in a wireless sensor network that possesses superior network throughput, reliability, scalability, and battery life, even in the harshest of RF environments. With A3 technology, broad geographical areas, with numerous, varied sources of RF interference, can be effectively serviced with a wireless sensor network.

Sinclair:  Can you elaborate on your Temporal Frequency Agility technique?

LaPointe:  Spinwave’s Temporal Frequency Agility technique allows the system to create and dynamically maintain an RF channel profile to perform channel hopping. Think of it as an “intelligent adaptive learning” system. The development of a channel profile is based on an assessment of the degree of noise or interference within an RF channel. The developed channel profile then identifies the least and most severely interfered channels so that the system can determine which channels to utilize and which channels to avoid. As changes occur in the RF characteristics of an environment, the system can automatically adjust its behavior in order to consistently achieve the highest level of interference avoidance and thus provide the highest level of reliability.

Sinclair:  And how about your Spatial Frequency Agility technique?

LaPointe:  Spinwave’s Spatial Frequency Agility technique is utilized in a network that covers a geographical area in which there are multiple, region-specific, interference sources. Separate, region-specific channel hopping profiles are used to avoid these varied types of interference. The wireless mesh network is divided into segments according to the differences in spatial, or region-specific, RF characteristics. These segments are connected and coordinated by specifically assigned Spinwave “link” nodes. These link nodes are capable of connecting network segments running with different channel hopping profiles.

The spatial segmentation can be dynamically adjusted according to changes in the RF environment in order to achieve optimal reliability within a given geographic area.

Sinclair:  And last but not least, tell us about your Density Frequency Agility technique.

LaPointe:  Spinwave’s Density Frequency Agility is designed to avoid the formation of high density wireless networks which can cause problematic local saturation of the RF band. Greater reliability is achieved by separating one highly dense network into multiple, overlapping network segments of lower density. Each of these new network segments run in different RF channels within the same geographic space. Similar to the spatial frequency agility, the network segments are connected by the Spinwave link nodes. In short, Spinwave’s density frequency agility technique dramatically reduces collisions and traffic congestion which are common in a high density wireless sensor network.

Sinclair:  What else sets Spinwave apart from other wireless sensor manufacturers?

LaPointe:  Think of us as the “high-tech” provider of wireless sensor networks. We offer the solutions and support system integrators need to help satisfy their customers and set them apart from the competition. Whether they provide products, services, or solutions, a partnership with Spinwave Systems is a major step forward in ensuring their continued business success.

Ken, for the building automation system integrator, partnering with Spinwave just makes sense. We are different than most of our competitors because we have attracted a talented team that allows us to capitalize on (1) a deep knowledge of the building automation market, products, applications and channels; and (2) industry-leading expertise in wireless hardware, algorithm and protocol design.

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