Wi-Fi is increasingly being used as the connection link for the Internet of Things, and a new company, ConnectSense, is basing its sensor business on a combination that includes Wi-Fi and a cloud-based infrastructure.
Newly launched Connect Sense is the offshoot of Grid Connect, which has offered sensors for over five years. "While the products have been well-received, customers repeatedly expressed their desire for something more affordable and diverse," said ConnectSense. Therefore, the company's founders decided to create a new line of Wi-Fi-based, battery-powered sensors that the company says is suitable for homes, businesses and "other important locations."
The company's sensors can detect temperature and humidity, water, security, motion, dry contact and lighting. The sensors include output modules that link directly to a home or business Wi-Fi network to provide alerts or perform specified actions based on sensor findings. This approach differs from low-power protocols such as Z-wave or Zigbee, which are commonly used for building automation but which employ mesh networking and must connect to a gateway or hub, which then sends signals to the Internet via Ethernet, Wi-Fi or cellular interfaces.
ConnectSense offers an example involving a security sensor that tracks when a garage door is open. If a garage door is left open for more than, say, five minutes, the sensor uses the home Wi-Fi network to connect to the ConnectSense cloud, which can send a text message to the homeowner regarding the situation.
Detail diagram of a ConnectSense water sensor. (Image source: ConnectSense)
Starting at about $150 each, ConnectSense's sensors are not inexpensive. Further, Wi-Fi tends to require more power than other sensor-friendly protocols. However, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of ConnectSense told GigaOM that his company's sensors last for three years on four batteries because they only transmit and receive once a day to confirm their operability in the absence of a triggering event.
Wi-Fi is increasingly being envisioned for use in a wide array of consumer electronics devices. Those differ from traditional Wi-Fi use cases that require high throughput streaming data, rechargeable batteries and high-performance application processors. The new applications focus on low bandwidth, low energy and low resources for devices requiring infrequent and small data packets and disposable batteries. Further, the emerging 802.11ah ultra-low-power Wi-Fi standard could help drive adoption of Wi-Fi for use in more IoT applications.
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