ISA100--did we accomplish anything in Mountain View?

Well, close to 100 of us spent most of last week in Mountain View, CA at the Ames NASA public affairs building doing the standards dance.

This time, however, I think we accomplished something very important.

It has been clear for some time that ISA100 needs to have something special, better, different than WirelessHART if it isn't going to become an "also-ran" standard.

We know that there are going to be at least five standards vying for end user dollars in the industrial wireless space. There will be ZigBee, Bluetooth, ISA100.11a, 802.11a-n, and WirelessHART. There will be a plethora of proprietary wireless protocols as well, such as Banner's, CyFi from Cypress Semiconductor, and others. Radios are cheap and software stacks abound.

So the action has shifted to finishing up the ISA100.11a standard, which will almost certainly pass this time around, and to move toward convergence with WirelessHART and ZigBee. Committees have been set up to do those things.

And Working Group 9 has been re-activated to create a Wireless Users' Manual. Somehow, somebody took over my body and voice and volunteered me for co-chair of WG9...but I expect it is fair. I've been the one beating the drum for helping the end users figure out how to use all this gee whiz stuff we've been standarding on...and now I have to stand and deliver.

Hopefully, we can have some work product out by the end of the year.