According to Jerry O’Gorman, CEO of B&B Electronics, Wzzard has been designed as an easy to use, complete wireless sensor connectivity platform for the rapid deployment of scalable, intelligent, reliable Internet of Things (IoT) networking in remote and demanding environments.
“Unlike a traditional SCADA application where sensors and edge devices are simply passive conduits for raw data,” he said, “edge decision making delivers a more effective network. Using iterative control limits and gateway data aggregation to support applications closer to the network edge, the Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform brings this intelligence to the network starting at the sensor, creating a more responsive, reliable and efficient network.”
There are several key components and technologies that comprise B&B Electronics’ Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform (Figure below ): the Intelligent Edge Nodes, Wireless Mesh IP technology from Linear's Dust Networks; Technology; the lightweight, publish/subscribe messaging transport MQTT protocol for sensor communications; and the company's industrial-grade Spectre router to serve as the Wzzard Intelligent Gateway.
O'Gorman said the Intelligent Edge Nodes will connect, via conduit fitting cable gland or M12 connector, to any industry-standard sensor. General-purpose analog inputs, digital input/output and thermocouple interfaces are included. B&B has already integrated internal temperature and accelerometer sensor options, and can integrate other application specific sensors upon request.
“The Intelligent Edge Nodes are easily configurable, using Android or IoS smartphones or tablets and the Wzzard app over Bluetooth LE 4.0,” he said. “They can be configured to communicate only data outside specified thresholds, reducing the cost on cellular networks, as well as to associate other useful information (geo-location, device name, and up-time) with the collected sensor data for upstream analytics applications. ”
Control time synchronization is used to maximize battery life, exceeding 5 years for many applications. Nodes are IP67 rated for outdoor use and include both magnetized and screw mount options.
For the critical communications component, B&B is using SmartMesh IP wireless sensing technology from Linear Technologies Dust Networks. It is is based upon the wireless IEEE 802.15.4e standard and creates full-mesh networks, sometimes referred to as “mesh-to-the-edge” networks.
SmartMesh IP networks use a triple-play of wireless mesh technologies—time diversity, frequency diversity, and physical diversity—to assure reliability, resiliency, scalability, power source flexibility, and ease-of-use.
At the core the technology is an intelligent mesh network with advanced algorithms and power saving technologies that enable powerful features not available from other WSN providers including: deterministic power management and optimization, auto-forming mesh technology for a self-healing and self-sustaining network, and dynamic bandwidth support, load balancing and optimization.
The company's Intelligent Edge Nodes can join the mesh network at any time without gateway interaction. Nodes attach automatically, and the SmartMesh IP technology dynamically self-configures to re-form the mesh network.
To ensure data always reaches the gateway, nodes will determine their optimal RF paths to other nodes and back to the gateway. The SmartMesh IP protocol implemented within the edge nodes includes advanced network management functions and security features such as encryption and authentication.
O'Gorman said Wzzard also uses the lightweight, publish/subscribe messaging transport MQTT protocol for sensor communications. “MQTT is an extremely simple messaging protocol created for M2M and IoT applications over wireless networks.” he said. “Its efficient distribution of information to single or multiple receivers, low power usage and minimized data packets make it ideal for mobile or remote locations.”
Unlike older SCADA protocols such as Modbus, MQTT places few restrictions on the volume or type of data that can be communicated. This facilitates a meta-data approach where multiple IoT applications can act upon the information simultaneously without having to know its origin.
Finally, B&B’s programmable, industrial-grade Spectre router serves as Wzzard’s Intelligent Gateway, said O'Gorman, and is used to connect equipment and other devices to the Internet or Intranet over either wired Ethernet or wireless cellular connections. Spectre is built for plug-and-play simplicity with extensive remote management, deployment and customization options.
Processed information from the sensor nodes is published through the Spectre Gateway up to the customer’s IoT application using MQTT transport protocol.
“We developed Wzzard to facilitate the coming world of connected intelligence, where smart machines and systems will collaborate, inform and make decisions on the intelligence gained from each other with little or no human supervision,” said O'Gorman. “Humans will program these smart networks, but then they have the ability to run efficiently and autonomously, sometimes for years, until there’s data reported that requires human intervention.”