Accordingto recent studies the wireless sensor networking chip market grewby 300% in 2010 andis doubling yet again this year. More important for embedded systems developers,wireless-enabled sensor spending grew by 80%in 2010 . This increased interest in embedded wireless connectivity isalso reflected in the 2011 Embedded MarketStudy.
But with great opportunities come great challenges. InRon Wilson’s recentcolumn on wireless networks he pointed to the serious problem of wirelesssecurity , especially as more of these networks use or interface tothe wider Internet via the IPv6 protocol. In “ Sensor Fusion bringssituational awareness to health devices , ” Supreet Oberoi points outanother serious problem: how do you collect, organize and respond to theinformation you are getting from the wireless sensors?
As some of thedesign articles in a recent Embedded.com Tech Focus newsletter elaborate, data-centric networkingmethods in the form of the Data DistributionService and the Java Messagingprotocol will go a long way toward solving the data managementproblem.
Then there is the problem of real time and deterministicperformance over wireless sensor networks, given the fact that the IPv6 protocolmany of these devices will connect to is still asynchronous, with no real globalclocking mechanism. Specifications such as IEEE1588have emerged todeal with this but adoption is moving happening slowly. To fill in the gap,wireless network-specific protocols such as WirelessHART, 6LowWPAN,and AODV have been proposed.
Then there's the new IPv6 protocol which makes available unique URLs that arecounted in the billions of billions of billions. Even if every human on theplanet had his or her own URL address, the number of URLs still available isessentially infinite, raising the prospect that almost every embedded device inthe world will have its own URL. Will sensors with 8- or 16-bit MCUs be up tothis challenge, or will 32-bit MCUs dominate?
These are questions that Ithink need to be addressed and I look forward to hearing from you with yourideas and contributions.
Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also site leader of iApplianceweb and a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Call him at 602-288-7257 or send an email to .