The IP for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance promotes the concept that Internet Protocol (IP) is the networking technology best suited for connecting sensor-equipped devices – referred to as smart objects – and delivering information gathered by those objects. Smart objects transmit information about their condition or environment (for example, temperature, light, motion, and health status) to locations where that information can be analyzed, correlated with other data, and acted upon. These objects are used in automated homes and offices, factory automation, asset tracking, patient monitoring, industrial and safety systems, and many other applications.
“More and more utilities and OEMs are viewing embedded IP as the long-term solution and proprietary approaches and ad hoc alliances as merely an interim step,” states Geoff Mulligan, IPSO Alliance chairman. “They are recognizing that only IP can support a wide variety of networking technologies with the needed scalability and interoperability that organizations require.”
The IPSO Alliance is planning three large-scale interoperability test events in 2009, the first of which will test end-to-end IP-based interoperability across the Internet by employing the next-generation IPv6 protocol over local and wide area communication media. The event will demonstrate open standards-based sensor networking solutions that deliver the global scalability, security, performance, and flexibility needed for future applications.
Other events later in the year will include demonstrations of multivendor devices communicating within a sensor network using the Internet Engineering Task Force 6LoWPAN (RFC 4944) standard for IPv6 over low-power wireless personal area networks. Each subsequent test will increase the scope of vendors and the diversity of interoperating media types including IEEE 802.15.4, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and WiMAX.
The ZigBee Alliance, a global ecosystem of companies creating wireless technologies for use in energy management, commercial, and consumer applications, finished 2008 with more than 300 members. Utilities across the United States and Canada have validated ZigBee Smart Energy as the leading wireless standard for implementing home area networks in conjunction with Smart Grid initiatives.
“When you consider that already more than 25 million homes in North America will be outfitted with a smart meter equipped with ZigBee with more on the way, the opportunities for our members to provide consumers with more control of their lives are incredible,” asserts Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “Consumers will remotely control their homes and manage their energy use thanks to ZigBee Smart Energy’s inherent Internet connectivity.”
The ZigBee Smart Energy profile was ratified in May 2008 and made publicly available in June. Utilities and consumers can select from 20 ZigBee Smart Energy Certified products representing a range of devices for managing home energy consumption including electricity meters, thermostats, and in-home displays.
In February the ZigBee Alliance and the HomePlug Powerline Alliance announced that they are joining forces with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop a standard communication approach for home area networks to use advanced metering infrastructure. The initiative will provide the flexibility for utilities to integrate ZigBee and HomePlug devices when implementing smart metering programs as well as expedite the rollout of energy management and efficiency programs to consumers.