Standard architecture for wireless sensing?


By Andrew Bond, Industrial Automation Insider

Jan 23, 2009

German energy harvesting and wireless sensing specialist EnOcean is bidding to establish its newly launched Dolphin system architecture as a non-proprietary standard for building automation and industrial control. The company claims that its modular system architecture allows on-demand matching and continuous optimization of such features as energy budget, peripheral functionality and wireless communication. For example, the length of wireless telegrams is minimized dynamically to the data content for transmission, while only those software function blocks actually needed by the user are saved to memory when programming the system.

Energy autonomous

New modules based on the architecture support bidirectional communication of self-powered or ‘energy autonomous’ sensors. Thus the STM 300, for example, provides extensive energy management of miniature converters which harvest energy from differences in temperature, rotation, light or vibration. Basic plug-and-play operating functions that can be implemented without the need for programming include analog and digital inputs, configurable wake and presence cycles and wake-up pins.

The range of Dolphin-based modules also includes energy-autonomous actuators which can be used, for example, to control heating valves, drawing their energy from Peltier thermoelectric elements. The modules use a bidirectional Smart Acknowledge function to allow the processor of an actuator to communicate bidirectionally with a central control point. The processor enquires of the central point through the wireless transmitter whether action is needed and receives a response in a precisely defined time interval, thereby ensuring that actuator components with a high power requirement only operate on demand.

Launched in conjunction with the new modules is a new operating system and application programming interface (API) that allows application-specific programs to be written in C. In addition to the protocol stack for EnOcean wireless, the API includes functions for controlling energy management including support for digital or analog I/O, access to flash memory and the continuously powered RAM and control of timer functions.