Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN), self organizing, self healing networks of small "nodes" have huge potential across industrial, military and many other sectors. While appreciable sales have now been established, major progress depends on standards and achieving twenty year life.
The new IDTechEx report Wireless Sensor Networks 2010-2020 draws lessons from the many successful installations in the last year. It looks at the complex standards seen with particular focus on WirelessHART that is key to applications in the process industries in the short and medium term. And it shows how the alternative ISA 100.11a has some way to go but may prove useful over a wider field of application and eventually subsume WirelessHART.
It examines recent successes of the various backers of ZigBee related solutions, who are behind the alternatives and how they see the future.
The challenge of excessive power consumption of these nodes, that have to act as both tags and readers, is addressed. For example, progress has been good in getting the electronics to consume less electricity, by both improved signaling protocols and improved circuitry.
As for batteries, lithium thionyl chloride single-use versions have twenty year life in certain circumstances but, for many applications, energy harvesting supplying rechargeable batteries is more attractive. That said, where is the rechargeable battery guaranteed for 20 years in use? For that reason, energy harvesting with no battery and often several sources is also of interest. It is widely employed in wireless sensor systems by EnOcean in Munich and its many partners worldwide making interoperable services but they are not yet mesh networks under the definition of WSN.
What are the most promising battery technologies becoming available in the next ten years? What are the alternatives to batteries? Which of the favorite energy harvesting technologies should be used photovoltaic, electrodynamic, thermoelectric or piezoelectric? When they are usable in combinations and what are the results so far? Which applicational sectors of WSN have the most potential and what lies in the way for each? Which WSN suppliers are winning and what are their secrets of success?
The new report addresses these issues and provides a wealth of analysis of WSN projects and development programs including the creating of improved WSN components, plus profiles of many suppliers.