At “ConnectivityWeek: Smart Grid, Beyond the Grid,” an industry event held May 23-26 in Santa Clara, California, Ember Corporation unveiled plans for the release of its Internet Protocol (IP)-based low-power wireless networking stack for smart metering and smart grid applications.
Ember develops wireless mesh networking technology – chips, software, and tools for AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) platforms. The Ember IP stack is targeted at smart grid applications, especially smart meters and in-home devices (IHDs)/home-area network (HAN) devices. A very early version of the Ember IP Stack already has been made available to a limited group of customers. Ember’s plans call for a Beta release of the stack in Q3 2011, followed by general availability by the end of the year.
Over the past two years, Ember has invested significant engineering resources toward providing a code-efficient, high-performance IP solution running on IEEE 802.15.4 radios that is best suited for scalable, low-power wireless networks. In that pursuit, Ember has contributed to the efforts being made by standards bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the ZigBee Alliance, which are working aggressively toward enabling native IP support for smart meters and IHDs/HAN devices.
According to Bob LeFort, Ember’s CEO, "We have been working hard within the standards bodies we are associated with to forge low-powered IP standards that constitute a reliable, scalable, and secure platform to help consumers and utilities reduce energy consumption and their carbon footprint well into the future. Our existing and new customers need to start making important product design decisions for their next-generation devices and now is the right time to give them and the industry better visibility of our schedule and the path towards a standards-based IP solution."
Customers welcome the solution. "Ember's revelation of … plans for an IP Stack only makes public the significant progress they have been [realizing] in the background," said Kent Dickson, CTO of Tendril, a Colorado-based Ember customer that provides Smart Grid software, hardware, and services for both consumers and utility companies. "Their experience helping customers deploy tens of millions of ZigBee devices in the field is invaluable in shaping a technology that will be a part of the long life span of smart grid systems."Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News - Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jamie Epstein