Thursday, June 12, 2008

On sensor nets and more

I am headed to IEEE Secon next week, a technical ground zero for work on wireless sensor networks. I see participation in the event from a wide range of universities as well as top tier tech companies including Alca-Lu, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and Nokia.

From anyone engaged in the event or the sector, I’d love to hear what are you consider the key technology and market struggles as I get myself oriented to cover this event. Drop a comment here or at

At an Intel Research event yesterday I heard a lot about wireless sensor nets for use in elder care, an emerging market Intel is trying to enable with its Shimmer sensors that currently use 802.15.4 and Bluetooth.

I also found out Intel is about to hand off to OEMs technology to create WiFi backhaul systems that can deliver 6 Mbits/s over 30 kilometers without using fancy high gain antennas or pushing the limits on regulatory power regimes. If they use better antennas and push power limits, they can send 4 Mbits across 100 km, said David Taylor (above right) who helped refine the software. The Intel technology involves software for a modified WiFi MAC protocol that uses slotted TDMA, enabling products that could be of use bringing the Web to the developing world.

Taylor was quick to point out the so-called Rural Connectivity Platform is a point-to-point link only and won’t compete with WiMax, Intel’s current wireless hobby horse. My view: between what WiFi and LTE will do, Intel would be better served to ease up on its whole WiMax religion—but that’s fodder for another story.

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