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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2007/05/15 - Telepathx Ltd, the Melbourne Australia based wireless Communications Company became the first significant sensor OEM & communication provider to openly abandon current and future development plans for the Zigbee 802.15.4 protocol.
In a move that will certainly draw the ire of many proponents of the Zigbee platform specifically those in the U.S and in Australia where the Government is funding sensor development at National ICT Australia (NICTA) the company and its developers announced that it will cease any and all future development work, opting to focus on the more reliable 802.11g protocol for its half and full duplex networks.
James Eades, President and CEO of Telepathx said there where a number of variables involved in the decision to drop the zigbee platform altogether from our sensor technology book.
First to understand our position you need to look at the extreme outdoor environments we are operating in, rain, fog, mist, hail, snow, ash clouds, smoke and thermal inversions are common conditions that we face, and they are less than ideal for any wireless platform. There is a great deal of signal attenuation under these circumstances and using the true mesh topology just increased packet degradation.
Speed was also an issue for us and we have found that using a lower frequency in a single hop mode in these conditions to be significantly faster and more reliable than the multi hop mode. “What you need to understand is that we are in the business of detecting sudden irreversible events and conditions such as fire, energy faults and auto collisions, so data integrity and latency issues are primary when it comes to protecting lives.
The shear size of the RTLS networks we are developing also present significant maintenance and environmental issues, our networks may be scattered over thousands of kilometres and contain millions of sensors, the cost involved and the thought of having to change batteries every 12 to 18 months was just not an option. Thankfully our reactive sensors solve this problem as they don’t require power to monitor events and conditions and they will last up to ten years without any maintenance; they are also significantly greener on the environment, about a 5:1 reduction in batteries used.
The final issue and what that really sealed our decision was that fact that the 802.15.4 protocol was performing with disastrous consequences in environments alongside other protocols specifically 802.11n and 802.11g. This noise issue is a real concern as we are developing intelligent energy networks with RFID to BLP / PLC interface that will also have WIFI access and zigbee just won’t stand up in that kind of urban metro architecture.
Zigbee is a great platform for industrial automation, and for us it was a great starting point; but with our focus on reactive sensor networks specifically in energy asset monitoring there was just no foreseeable future in it.
Telepathx Ltd (telepathx.com) is at the forefront of reactive sensor network technology and was recently ranked as the top emerging company in Wall Street energy analyst firm Lux Research Cleantech Demand Response report; in leading the effort in developing the world’s first intelligent energy network in Australia where they will provide community bushfire and auto collision monitoring services from fixed RFID access points.