First IP-powered wireless sensor network arrives

Here is an idea whose time has come: Combining sensor networks and the Internet, so the sensor network can become a full-fledged member of the enterprise IT infrastructure, and so that physical data can become an integral part of the digital enterprise. The combination now allows enterprises to use standard Internet management tools to gain visibility and control down to the level of individual sensor nodes.

The San Francisco-based Arch Rock is showing its Primer Pack, which is a complete wireless sensor network (WSN) that comes with the company's APIs (application programming interfaces). The APIs allow users to create custom applications to monitor physical conditions. Individual sensor nodes can be assigned IP addresses, DNS names and websites, and can be directly managed using pervasive IP tools such as SNMP, ping, and traceroute. Standard Internet provisioning, troubleshooting techniques and authentication and other security measures may be applied to single nodes, groups of nodes or the entire WSN.

The sensor node software is the first commercial implementation of TinyOS 2.0, the latest version of the de facto standard embedded operating system created specifically for sensor networks.  In addition, to lower power consumption, the company has has created network protocols on top of the IEEE 802.15.4 radio standard. The link-layer protocol implements the concept of "passive vigilance," which allows sensor nodes to "sleep," using minimum energy, while remaining responsive to "wakeup calls" from the network when data need to be collected or alerts generated.

For more on the IP-based sensor network:
- see Arch Rock press release

MORE: Michael McGuinness and Jeffrey Rideout argue that by tuning or enhancing their existing wireless networks, hospitals and other facilities can implement an RFID-based system to locate RFID-tagged assets, thereby extending the value of their investment.