With 100 million devices in buildings and industrial environments using its Lonworks wired Free Topology technology, Echelon Corp. has outlined its plans to extend its control networking platform to the emerging wireless Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market.
In the first phase in its strategy, Echelon took the wraps off its new IzoT platform. iiot.echelon.com. It has released beta versions of its IzoT multi-protocol stack for the ARM architecture and also made available example reference implementations for the Raspberry Pi development platform.
According to Ron Sege, Echelon's chairman and CEO, in January 2014 the software stack will be available as part of Marvell's Easy Connect software development kit (SDK) for the Marvell Wi-Fi Microcontroller platform (see separate release), and later in 2014 Echelon will release a range of IzoT-enabled chips, modules, routers and software.
Athough there is nothing fundamentally different that what is currently being developed for industrial control networks, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is another way of looking at how devices or “things,” interact over a network – as industrial “objects” that automatically communicate over a network—without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction—to share information and take action, often autonomously.
Izot, he said, is an attempt to bridge the gap between the wired and wireless and between the IP-based and control –based protocol worlds and to operate – and communicate – under harsh physical conditions and mission-critical processes that require industrial-strength reliability, hardened security, wired and wireless connectivity, and backwards compatibility with large installations of legacy devices.
He said Echelon’s offering will allow seamless connectivity between both existing and new “things”—including small, low-powered sensors and actuators—to connect and take action among themselves in a peer-to-peer fashion, with or without interaction with the centralized client/server “Internet” portion of the IIoT.
Echelon's open, multi-protocol, multi-application IzoT platform will support both wired and wireless connections, freeing developers from worrying about compatibility, protocol or connectivity issues as they design or integrate IIoT devices and applications.
“By adding protocol support for legacy and emerging devices to its platform, and by adding short-range wireless capabilities to its existing best-of-breed wired offerings, “ he said, “Echelon will offer customers the easiest, most reliable way to build large-scale heterogeneous networks of industrial-grade devices that can self-install and interoperate within a peer-to-peer community.
Because the Echelon platform supports legacy as well as emerging IIoT protocols, customers will not have to strand assets or engage in wholesale system upgrades.
In January 2014, Echelon plans to release IzoT Cloud software, enabling remote access, monitoring and control of IzoT-enabled communities of devices. In addition to access through REST services, the cloud software will also provide data archival services to store key data from IzoT-enabled communities for trending and other analytics.