Last night, at the 20th anniversary reception at the HART General Meeting, an amazing thing happened. It wasn't planned, it just happened, and it serves notice that the WirelessHART standard is much more mature in its behavior than we thought.
NIVIS was demonstrating their WirelessHART stack and WirelessHART gateway. That was planned. They had two "field device" demos, a gateway and a MACtek "bullet" WirelessHART Adaptor in a network that was operating just fine.
Chris Herzog, from STG, came in with a test field device board, and just for grins, he turned it on. He gave it the network ID and the join key. Then the most amazing thing happened. It worked. It joined the network just fine, and worked quite well with the gateway, the other NIVIS field devices and the Bullet. Herzog and Wally Pratt (HART's chief engineer) were so excited they were literally jumping up and down when they dragged me over to witness this startling success. It startled me, too. Pretty soon, all of us were jumping up and down with excitement.
You cannot minimize the importance of this event.
We were seeing three different companies interoperating. More importantly, we were seeing radios of three different manufactures, three different WirelessHART firmware stacks (Dust, STG and NIVIS), and field devices from three different vendors and they all worked first try.
You expect this with a mature standard. You expect that if you are making a new 802.11 device, for example, that with millions of other devices to test against, if it doesn't work, you're an idiot.
But the HART Communication Foundation hasn't even completed all the test suite for WirelessHART yet, let alone there being millions of installed WirelessHART devices (not!) to test against.
One more thing. NIVIS and STG had never seen each other's devices before. They hadn't done interoperability testing, they hadn't ever tried the two devices together.
"Ya gotta love it when a plan comes together!"