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Wireless Sensor Networks Back in the News

Industry consolidation in the wireless mesh network space continues with the acquisition of Dust Networks by Linear Technology.

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Dust Netowrks (see my acquisition article here) has been the platform for Emerson Process development and then WirelessHart. It's purchase means that the technology is backed by an established, $1.4 billion company. This should add some insurance for those engineers considering long-term deployment of wireless sensor networks. 

Meanwhile, the International Society of Automation (ISA) has achieved its long-deferred American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approval for the ISA100.11a standard--the "competing" standard to WirelessHart. It's nice that the rhetoric has died in the "wireless wars" and the path to convergence getting serious (see Renee Robbins Bassett's article in Automation World).

The ANSI approval is usually a routine matter, but the ISA 100 wireless committee had a tremendous amount of contentiousness. It was so bad that one ISA leader told me that it was the most disfunctional committee he'd seen at one point in the process. When the original ISA100.11a was adopted, several members of the committee thought that proper procedures had not been observed and petitioned ANSI to deny approval. ANSI, in fact, did deny approval, and the issue returned to the committee for further work.

Much as I thought at the time, this is almost an anti-climax. Many companies have WirelessHart devices in the market, while ISA100 products are still in development (although a few that meet the requirements without final approval are released) by a few companies.

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