Monday, September 15, 2014

Intel Edison – closing the gap between the IoT and your products

The new Edison development platform is the latest in a series of low-cost and product-ready, general purpose computing platforms from Intel that aim to help lower the barriers to entry for all entrepreneurs, from hobbyists and makers to professional engineers and companies working with Internet-of-Things, wearable computing and consumer electronics applications and product development.

The Edison platform includes a robust set of features into its small size, delivering great performance, durability, and a broad spectrum of hardware I/O interfaces and software support. Those versatile features help meet the needs of a wide range of customers and market segments.

Although announced some time ago, the platform is finally in the retail market, which has waited patiently as the Edison packs a large amount of computing power, communications and networking capability into a small, compact package - including an Intel Atom dual-core system-on-chip, integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy, along with a 70-pin miniature Hirose connector that exposes many GPIO pins and a wide range of different I/O interfaces for connectivity with external hardware.

With these features in mind, Edison is potentially a very useful platform for many of today's networked, connected embedded computing and Internet-of-Things applications where more computing power is required than can be supplied by a typical low-cost microcontroller along with wireless connectivity.

Edison's versatile features help this new computing platform to meet the needs of beginners to embedded computing, inventors and makers, as well as experienced users and of course a multitude of commercial applications.

Apart from the integrated hardware, thanks to the 70-pin connector there’s support for more than 30 different industry-standard hardware I/O interfaces – simplifying planning for and integration with peripheral devices and other hardware.

From a software perspective, Edison features out-of-the-box compatibility and support with software and tools such as Yocto Linux, the Arduino IDE, and the Python, Node.js and Wolfram languages. The Edison's Intel Atom system-on-chip includes a dual-core CPU and an independent single-core microcontroller, integrated memory and storage.

You may be thinking that all this is great, however Edison isn’t suitable for portable applications due to a perceived power issue. Nothing could be further from the truth – although there’s a powerful dual-core processor, WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy radios on board – it offers low power consumption and a small physical footprint.

Thus the Edison platform is attractive for applications that need a lot of processing power without the size or power consumption constraints of a larger PC or single-board computer. In standby mode with no RF communication, Edison's power consumption is just 13 milliwatts, increasing to 22 milliwatts with Bluetooth LE active, or 35 milliwatts when Wi-Fi networking is enabled.

The core of Edison is its’ Intel Atom system-on-chip that includes a modern dual-core, dual-threaded 500 MHz CPU along with an independent 32-bit 100 MHz Intel Quark microcontroller, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, 4 Gb of EMMC non-volatile storage and 1 Gb of DDR3 memory - all in a tiny module the size of a postage stamp – ideal for Internet-of-Things applications.

The unique combination of small size, energy efficiency, computing power and storage, rich capabilities and ecosystem support provided by the Edison module and its surrounding ecosystem of modular hardware blocks inspires creativity and enables rapid innovation from prototype to production for professional, hobbyist or education users.

Created to facilitate rapid innovation, prototyping and product development, Edison can be configured to be interoperable with just about any device, allowing you to quickly prototype simple interactive designs or tackle more complex projects with an embedded computer that offers much more power, on-board storage and networking capability than a simple 8-bit microcontroller.

Furthermore, the Edison platform also supports connectivity to Intel's new Internet-of-Things Analytics Platform, which enables seamless device-to-device and device-to-cloud communications for your connected devices in Internet-of-Things applications.

However Intel doesn’t just leave you with hardware – their IoT Analytics Platform provides a range of foundational tools for collecting, storing and processing data from your Internet-of-Things networks and devices in the cloud, and for example provides the ability to run user-defined rules on your data stream that trigger alerts based on advanced analytics on the data coming in from your devices.

Overall the Edison offers the product designer an incredible range of hardware possibilities from a reputable brand that knows the business. However implementing your IoT or other product with Edison can be a challenge to get right the first time.

However you can remove the challenge of development by working with experienced partners such as our team here at the LX Group. We have the team, knowledge and experience to bring your ideas to life.

Getting started is easy - join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Advantages and Possible Downsides of Agile Development

Agile project management methods aren't new, however they can still be considered somewhat foreign to most teams developing hardware or combined embedded hardware and software products.

There are a number of both advantages and potential disadvantages that are worth considering when it comes to the role of Agile management methods in hardware projects that should be considered in the decision-making process of switching from a traditional waterfall project management method to an Agile approach for the management of your projects.

Imagine a team that focuses on how their work will be used by the customer, and who quickly incorporates feedback from other teams and test users to build something that gets better and better in noticeable and usable incremental chunks of productivity. They may work without the usual documentation and strict procedures because communication is fast and usually face-to-face, with the results being what is important.

These are some of the typical advantages associated with Agile project management techniques, along with improvements in efficiency and team productivity that come from co-location of teams, pair programming (and more generally, "pair engineering" in the context of a non-software project), regular stand-up meetings and similar interpersonal communication techniques within your project team that are an important part of many Agile methods.

Some of the other key advantages that are typically ascribed to Agile project management techniques include the reduction of traditional, formal written documentation because of the sense that reducing the requirement for this type of documentation allows creativity to increase, a reduction in the time that is typically consumed doing blind research, and the relatively rapid delivery of new iterations of hardware or software prototypes which allow improvements to be demonstrated more rapidly, broken up into smaller chunks.

Another advantage of Agile methods is that multiple cycles of iterative development, testing and feedback speed up the evolution of a quality product, as well as allowing relatively rapid education of new members of the development team, allowing skills and experience with particular tools, client industries or user stories to be learned rapidly where prior experience may be lacking.

Despite many apparently compelling advantages of Agile methods, however, some development teams and companies prefer the perceived stability and predictability of a traditional development process and a "waterfall" project model.

They feel that the traditional approach of comprehensive documentation and specific up-front contract negotiation protects them from risk and allows one team to follow the work of another in a consistent and reproducible way. When your product involves a combination of hardware and software - as is often the case in today's world of embedded systems and connected Internet-of-Things devices, this involves special hurdles and some people feel that agile methods are not well suited, or insufficiently well developed, to handle this area well and that traditional engineering management strategies are the best when you're working with this type of technology.

Some possible disadvantages that you may encounter when trying to incorporate agile methods into your product development include an increase in the amount of data that you need to manage, in order to keep track of rapid revisions and many different versions of prototype hardware and software, and the increased complexity of your communication and coordination within your team and between the team and the customer as the project proceeds.

Some organisations may find that they have a hard time getting over the disadvantages of changing their processes and dealing with perceived increases in risk. There are real costs associated with your transition to new, different procedures and tools, and the perception that moving away from formal up-front contract and specification processes with your clients could expose you to increased risks can be, to some extent, correct.

Another one of the challenges facing agile management of projects with both hardware and software development components is that software can normally be developed relatively rapidly, and the software development process broken down into smaller chunks or iterations relatively easily.

On the other hand, it may require three to six months or more to develop an iteration of a hardware product and to demonstrate a working component or feature. Hardware is hard, as they say, and it is harder to break up the project into small components that can be worked on in small, short sprints with a working iteration of a product or component at the end. If the software must wait for the hardware to be created prior to final testing of the integrated system, this can add delays to your testing process.

Nevertheless, don’t let these put you off considering Agile for your project development. By working with experienced partners you can exceed your goals, and here at the LX Group we have the team, knowledge and experience to bring your ideas to life. 

Getting started is easy - join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Improve Customer Satisfaction with Agile Practices

Agile project management practices, which can be applied to the management of hardware development or other engineering projects – and not just the software development projects for which these methods were mostly originally developed, have the potential to deliver increased customer satisfaction compared to traditional project management methods such as the "waterfall" technique.

These improvements in customer satisfaction that can be achieved by Agile projects come about because of a combination of many different advantages that Agile practices can offer, particularly in the ways that Agile project techniques involve and engage the customer, the customer's feedback, ideas and expertise throughout the product development lifecycle.

These Agile project management practices can increase the satisfaction of your customers by keeping the customers involved and actively engaged through the development cycle of their new product, making the customer feel like they are a valuable, integral part of the project team - which, of course, they are.

This enables rapid and precise feedback between the customer (or customer representatives and advocates on the team such as the "Product Owner", who often play an important role in Agile project teams) and the development team.

Furthermore this also gives the development team an intimate contextual understanding of the customer's requirements, specifications and ideas by keeping the customer or customer champion embedded in close contact with the development team. Finally, customer satisfaction is increased thanks to your progress and with the product; these practices can help to make the product itself fundamentally better, too.

Whilst these kinds of Agile project methodologies can work at their best when an actual customer representative is available frequently for team meetings, to communicate product requirements and business needs, if a customer representative is not available then the Product Owner, a role filled by one member from the project management team, can perform this role effectively.

The "Product Owner", who is a core part of many Agile project teams, is an expert on the customer's needs and product requirements, and serves as an advocate for customer and business outcomes, constantly directing the team in a direction that is focused on customer results and customer centred value, rather than considerations such as what is technically easiest, or technically most elegant, which otherwise may be given greater emphasis by the engineering or development teams.

Agile project management practices can deliver improved customer satisfaction and customer-focused outcomes by keeping the product backlog updated regularly and prioritised, allowing the team to quickly and efficiently respond to urgent issues, to newly established product requirements, or other changes that need to be addressed, without wasting time with less organised project management or implementing new features or changes that are less urgent and less important to the customer and business outcomes.

Agile practices can also deliver improvements in customer satisfaction and product outcomes by demonstrating working functionality to customers in every sprint review.

This rapid iteration of new prototypes and repeated demonstration of working software or hardware technology gives the customer and/or the Product Owner a very clear understanding of the project progress that is being made, inspires new ideas for features or changes either in the product itself or in the ways that the product may be used or marketed, and allows for rapid discussion of changes, improvements or design specifications that are desired between the customer and the project team.

Another way that Agile management practices can result in a project with relatively strong satisfaction for the customer is by delivering products to market quicker and more often with every release.

Finally, another factor that can allow Agile project management techniques to deliver greater customer satisfaction from your project is by possessing the potential for better results with self-funded or crowd funded projects; allowing the scope, scale or schedule of a project to rapidly be changed even in the middle of the project development cycle.

This means, for example, that Agile projects can adapt to be most compatible with a changing or insecure funding environment, a self-funded environment with very limited access to cash flow and resources, a crowd funding project that has delivered funding less than what has been hoped, or a crowd funding project that has turned out much more successful than anticipated, with plenty of upfront funding available, but with demands for manufacturing scale and product fulfilment that are much larger than originally anticipated.

These and other Agile hardware development techniques can be harnessed by any organisation. However if this is new to you, or it seems like a complex path – then consult the experienced team here at the LX Group.

We can partner with you – finding synergy with your ideas and our experience to create final products that exceed your expectations.

To get started, join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Harnessing connected devices with the PubNub Data Stream Network

The PubNub Data Stream Network enables developers to rapidly build real-time apps that scale globally, without worrying about infrastructure. PubNub enables you to easily build and scale real-time apps and connected data-stream services for home automation, Internet-of-Things applications, connected devices and just about anything else with APIs and support across a large range of different platforms, operating systems and programming languages.

Using PubNub's extensive, friendly documentation, quick-start guides, APIs and building blocks, you can easily get started building your own real-time, connected apps very quickly - building an entire simple app in minutes, without worrying about cloud connectivity or infrastructure.

The aim of the PubNub system is to provide a real-time infrastructure and framework for developers to build real-time apps as easily as building a web page. The PubNub Realtime Network provides global cloud infrastructure and key building blocks for real-time interactivity, allowing developers to spend their time and effort on what they do best, creating brilliant real-time apps, without worrying about infrastructure challenges, but also providing users with the real-time information updates, real-time connectivity, interaction, communication and collaboration experiences that they expect from today's apps and web services.

Key "building blocks" are provided to implement basic functions such as analytics, mobile support, security, storage, presence detection and push notifications in your app, allowing you to rapidly "plug together" cloud-connected application prototypes.

The system provides support and SDKs for over 50 languages and development platforms, including iOS, Android, JavaScript, .NET, Java, Ruby, Python, PHP, and many others, and supports a vast array of platforms and frameworks with easy-to-use APIs for mobile, browser, desktop, server, or embedded Internet-of-Things applications.

Furthermore, PubNub Presence allows real-time monitoring of devices and their presence in Internet-of-Things applications, and PubNub offers many other features that are particularly valuable in IoT applications. However, the capability that PubNub provides, allowing you to add real-time communications to your apps without worrying about infrastructure, and to stream, store, sync, secure and manage your data on all devices, everywhere, is valuable for applications in all kinds of mobile, desktop or browser-based environments - not only in Internet-of-Things applications.

As well as support for these languages and operating systems, PubNub provides support, documentation and SDKs to enable connectivity with many popular hardware platforms for embedded and IoT applications, such as Electric Imp, mBed and Raspberry Pi. This allows for low-cost prototype and final product development thanks to PubNub working with these open-source hardware platforms.

You can try PubNub free of charge, using a free sandbox account for demonstration, hacking or experimentation. A sandbox-level account allows you to build PubNub-based applications with up to 20 daily active devices, which should be more than enough to get you up and running. If you need support, the free sandbox-tier account also provides access to the PubNub community forums, and a "best effort" service-level agreement.

Of course there are also a broad range of paid account tiers available, allowing you to support the number of devices and amount of bandwidth that your application requires at an economic rate that can scale up and grow with your business.

Message payloads up to 32 kilobytes in size can be sent through PubNub, with a small fee per message applicable to paid accounts, charged on a varying scale depending on the message payload size you send and whether or not SSL encryption is required for your message traffic.

The PubNub Developer Portal gives you easy access to all of your usage metrics, and these metrics are updated at least once per day, allowing you to always get an up-to-date snapshot of your historical message traffic and usage charges.

PubNub's global cloud infrastructure allows you to build and deploy real-time apps with a very robust level of scalability, reliability, performance and service guarantees. PubNub streams more than three million messages a second to 150 million devices per month, connecting every PubNub-enabled device and platform in the world with a latency of less than 250 milliseconds.

With replication across 14 data centres around the world, PubNub provides a very high level of service reliability, and building and deploying your real-time apps via PubNub's global infrastructure provides your applications and services with that same level of reliability even when you're scaling up to hundreds of thousands of concurrently connected clients.

Data streamed through the PubNub real-time network is instantly replicated to PubNub's data centres around the globe to minimise latency for the end user, and multiple levels of redundancy and failover ensure that your PubNub-based real-time app solutions always work essentially anywhere with very low latency, even with millions of users.

PubNub allows you to send messages between mobile devices instantly, and allows you to send and listen to events within your app by using simple publish and subscribe API calls. You can subscribe to a channel with a simple API call, and once subscribed to a channel, simply use the Publish API, specify the channel name and the message you'd like to send in order to publish a message to a channel.

The fact that PubNub is built around a Publish/Subscribe model for real-time messaging and signalling makes PubNub ideally suited to collecting, collating and distributing information from Internet-of-Things networks, an application area where protocols such as MQTT that are also based around a publish/subscribe messaging model are increasingly popular.

Once again, all of this means there exists another option, another choice, another system to get your Internet-of-Things ideas from your notebook to reality. And doing just that with any system may seem like an impossible task.

However with our team here at the LX group, it's simple to get prototypes of your devices based on the Arrayent platform up and running – or right through to the final product. We can partner with you – finding synergy with your ideas and our experience to create final products that exceed your expectations.

To get started, join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

LX Design House - an ABA100 Winner for Enterprise in The Australian Business Awards 2014


LX Design House has been recognised as an ABA100 Winner for Enterprise in The Australian Business Awards 2014 for their outstanding commitment to the creation and development of well-managed initiatives.

Since being established, LX's in-house manufacturing facility has massively reduced the turnaround time for certain kinds of product development.

"We specialise in high speed prototyping, so producing boards in-house massively reduces the turn around time caused by shipping to manufacturers overseas. It means less time in transit and more time with our engineers!" -Simon Blyth

The Australian Business Awards are a national, all-encompassing awards program honouring Australia’s business, innovation and technology leaders through the recognition of their ground-breaking vision, innovative products and exemplary execution of projects, technologies, service, programs, systems and other initiatives. The program engages with leading corporate, government and non-government organisations providing regional recognition with a global significance through an established set of business and product award categories.

Ms Tara Johnston, Program Director, says, “With a modernised economy we are experiencing notable change in business with new market and social needs expanding rapidly. The ABA100 Winners are reflective of a nation-wide commitment to innovation and improvement, with the award honouring their evident traction within their respective industries.

“As markets become more informed, organisations are required to be responsive and dynamic in order to create functional, sustainable processes and future-proof products. The program places value on a proactive approach to instigating long-term solutions and generating positive outcomes to ensure a bright economic future for Australians, through the recognition of demonstrated commitment to putting bold ideas into motion and creating products that matter,” Ms Johnston adds.

Conducted annually, The Australian Business Awards are now in their ninth year with one hundred winners (“The ABA100”) announced in a variety of established categories across all industries. Working continuously to develop a robust and dynamic framework of assessment, organisations are able to review their business and product performance, identify their strengths in a growing knowledge economy and ultimately provide a platform for reputation enhancement and brand exposure by publicly acknowledging organisations for their valuable contributions and innovative products. The business award categories are open to the corporate, government and non-government sectors. The product awards open to tangible or intangible products ranging from manufactured goods, devices, equipment, services, programs, projects, activities, information, knowledge, software, platforms and systems.

For more information on The Australian Business Awards (ABA100) go to

– ENDS –

Media contact:

Elwin Cross
t: +61 2 9209 4133
f: +61 2 9310 7232

Monday, August 11, 2014

Frameworks for Agile Hardware Development

There are many different agile development methods and process frameworks, with Extreme Programming, Scrum, Kanban, and Dynamic Systems Development Method being some of the best known. Although there are many different agile process frameworks and methods, most are fundamentally similar in that they promote teamwork, collaboration and process adaptability throughout the whole life cycle of a development project.

The various agile methodologies share much of the same underlying philosophy as well as many of the same characteristics and practices. From an implementation standpoint, however, each has its own combination of practices and terminology. Most agile methods break tasks into small increments with minimal planning, without directly involving long-term planning.

At the end of teach iteration in the agile process, a working product is demonstrated to stakeholders. This minimises overall risk and allows the project to adapt to changes quickly. Iterations might not add enough functionality to warrant a market release, but the goal is to have an available release (with minimal bugs) at the end of each iteration.

Multiple iterations might be required to release a product or new features. No matter what development disciplines are required, each agile team contains a customer representative, for example the "Product Owner" in the Scrum method. This person is appointed by stakeholders to act on their behalf and makes a commitment to be available for developers to answer mid-iteration questions.

At the end of each iteration, stakeholders and the customer representative review the project's progress and re-evaluate project priorities with a view to optimising the project's return on investment and ensuring alignment with customer needs and business goals.

Extreme Programming, which has emerged as one of the most popular but sometimes controversial agile methodologies, is a disciplined approach to delivering high-quality software quickly and continuously. It promotes high customer involvement, rapid feedback loops, continuous testing, continuous planning, and close teamwork to deliver working software at very frequent intervals, typically every one to three weeks.

The original model of Extreme Programming (XP) is based on four simple values of simplicity, communication, feedback and courage, backed up by various supporting practices such as pair programming, test-driven development, continuous integration and collective code ownership.

In an XP project, the customer or customer advocate works very closely with the development team to define and prioritise granular units of functionality referred to as "user stories". The development team estimates, plans, and delivers the highest priority user stories in the form of working, tested software on an iteration-by-iteration basis.

Scrum is another popular agile project management framework; a lightweight framework with broad applicability for managing and controlling iterative and incremental projects of all kinds. Scrum has achieved increasing popularity in the agile software development community due to its simplicity, proven productivity, and ability to act as a wrapper for various engineering practices promoted by other agile methodologies.

Using the Scrum methodology, the product owner works closely with the team to identify and prioritise system functionality in form of a "product backlog". The product backlog consists of features, bug fixes, non-functional requirements and anything else that needs to be done in order to successfully deliver a working software system.

With priorities driven by the product owner - cross-functional teams estimate and sign-up to deliver "potentially shippable increments" of software during successive "sprints" typically lasting 30 days. Once the product backlog for any given sprint is committed, no additional functionality can be added to the sprint except by the development team.

Kanban is another agile method used by organisations to manage the creation of products with an emphasis on continual delivery while not overburdening the development team. Like Scrum, Kanban is a process designed to help teams work together more effectively.

It is based on the three basic principles of visualisation of the work to be done on a given day using large noticeboards, walls or "information radiators", since seeing all the items in the context of each other can be very informative, limiting of the amount of work in progress at any given time, which helps to balance the flow-based approach so that teams don't start too much work or commit too much work at once, and the enhancement of efficient workflow, where the next highest-priority task from the backlog is underway quickly once a previous task is completed.

The Dynamic Systems Delivery Method, or DSDM, is another important agile method, which grew out of the need to provide an industry standard project delivery framework for what used to be referred to as Rapid Application Development or RAD.

While RAD was very popular in the early 1990s, the RAD approach to software delivery evolved in a fairly unstructured manner. As a result, the DSDM Consortium was created and convened with the goal of devising and promoting a common industry framework for rapid software delivery, and since then the DSDM methodology has evolved and matured to provide a comprehensive foundation for planning, managing, executing, and scaling agile process and iterative software development projects.

DSDM specifically calls out "fitness for business purpose" as the primary criteria for delivery and acceptance of a system, focussing on the useful 80% of the system that can be deployed in 20% of the time. Requirements are baselined at a high level early in the project. Rework is built into the process, and all development changes must be reversible. Requirements are planned and delivered in short, fixed-length time-boxes, also referred to as iterations, and requirements for DSDM projects are prioritised into "must have", "should have", "could have" and "won't have" categories.

All critical work must be completed in a DSDM project, but it is also important that not every requirement in a project or time-box is considered critical. Within each time-box, less critical items are included so that, if necessary, they can be removed to keep from impacting higher priority requirements on the schedule.

The DSDM project framework is independent of, and can be implemented in conjunction with, other iterative agile methodologies such as Extreme Programming.

Agile hardware development may seem complex, or quite foreign – however the methods used can decrease the period of time from idea to final product launch – with the right partners.

Here at the LX Group we can partner with you – finding synergy with your ideas and our experience to create final products that exceed your expectations.

To get started, join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

EnOcean – the new low-power Wireless Standard

The success or failure of new Internet-of-Things products is predicated on many factors, one of those being autonomy for portable devices – that is, how long the battery will last between charges. The less power your devices uses, the more attractive it will be to the end user and customer. And to help with this goal in mind, a new standard has emerged.

The International Electrotechnical Commission has recently ratified the new ISO/IEC 14543-3-10 standard, specifying a Wireless Short-Packet (WSP) protocol optimised for ultra-low-power and energy-harvesting nodes in wireless sensor networks.

It is the first and only existing standard for wireless applications that is also optimised for energy harvesting solutions, aimed at energy-harvesting wireless sensors and wireless sensor networks with ultra-low power consumption.

Devices in low-power wireless sensor networks and Internet-of-Things applications that utilise energy harvesting technology can draw energy from their surroundings - for example from vibration, light or heat sources. Energy harvesting enables the use of electronic control and automation systems that work independently of an external power supply, without maintenance and without ongoing energy costs for the nodes in the sensor network.

In some environments where harvesting of small amounts of energy from ambient sources is practical, this technology offers energy savings and fast and easy installation, without the need for power cables for example, along with reductions in ongoing maintenance requirements for battery-powered devices.

International standardisation will accelerate the development and implementation of energy-optimised wireless sensors and wireless sensor networks, with the potential to also open up new markets and areas of application for wireless sensor and IoT solutions. In addition to the existing established markets for home and building automation and energy efficiency technology, further application sectors such as the "smart home", "smart grid" and solutions in industry, logistics and transport are likely to continue to emerge into the future, with a strong foundation of interoperability, standardisation and openness provided by this novel but field-proven standard.

However, this new IEC standard specifies the architecture and lower layer protocols - the physical layer, data link and networking layer. The higher layers in the OSI network model are not specified in this standard and other standards, either open standards or vendor-specific proprietary protocols, will be used to implement the higher layers of the network.

EnOcean, which develops energy harvesting wireless technology, is a pioneer in this field, and the company has been producing and marketing maintenance-free wireless sensor solutions for use in building and industrial automation for more than ten years, with EnOcean-based products currently installed in over 250,000 buildings around the world.

EnOcean's wireless technology is already a firmly established technology for smart buildings, energy efficiency and automation applications. The EnOcean Alliance, a cooperative industry alliance established by EnOcean, sees the ratification of this new IEC standard as one of the key prerequisites for expanding the already highly successful, fast-growing ecosystem of EnOcean-enabled products and RF communication modules from EnOcean and other vendors.

Members of the EnOcean Alliance have already introduced more than 1200 interoperable EnOcean-based products, all of which comply with the new standard. Developers and manufacturers can therefore benefit from the EnOcean Alliance's extensive practical experience, huge product range and installed base of products deployed by customers in the field along with many years of user education and familiarisation.

The EnOcean Alliance draws up the specifications of standardised applications and device profiles based on the IEC standard, with these "EnOcean Equipment Profiles" ensuring the interoperability of products from different vendors. These standardised profiles are optimised for ultra-low energy consumption, making them a useful, tried and tested complement to the new IEC wireless sensor networking standard and allowing smart, energy-efficient automation solutions to easily be realised that are non-proprietary and industry-neutral.

EnOcean's technology pushes wireless sensor network technology and energy efficiency to the limits, with EnOcean's range of self-powered wireless switches, sensors, controls and other modules combining small-scale energy-harvesting power supplies with ultra-low-power electronics and reliable wireless communications.

This enables developers to create self-powered wireless sensor solutions that are valuable for efficiently managing building, smart energy management and industrial applications. Together with the EnOcean Equipment Profiles drawn up by the EnOcean Alliance, this international standard lays the foundation for fully interoperable, open, self-powered wireless technology with a level of industry-wide standardisation comparable to today's widely accepted protocols such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

EnOcean's technology allows fast development and marketing of new wireless solutions in building services, industry and other sectors, and standardised sensor profiles provide for interoperability of the resulting products. Devices from different manufacturers can then communicate and cooperate with other devices on the network.

Interoperability of different end-products based on EnOcean technology is an important success factor for the establishment of self-powered IoT and WSN technology in the market, and this is the reason the EnOcean Alliance pursues standardisation of communication profiles, ensuring that sensors from one manufacturer can communicate with receiver gateways of another, for example.

Software provided by the EnOcean Alliance also allows modular and versatile, user-friendly integration of these systems into end-user applications. End users thus have the entire product portfolio enabled by EnOcean and EnOcean's self-powered energy-harvesting wireless sensor network technology at their disposal.

This allows vendors to focus on their product branding, services, support and installation, along with providing Internet services, mobile apps and other software products whilst using existing hardware and core technology - along with developing and offering hardware products to support their own specialised market niche, going beyond the existing portfolio of EnOcean-enabled products if this is desired.

And as a leading developer of IoT-enabled products, our team at the LX Group is ready to work together as your design partner to help reduce the power consumption of your new or existing product with the EnOcean standard or other options we can introduce.

To get started, join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.