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Is There Space for Other Wireless Standards in an IP-Connected World?

With IPv6 providing an address space of more than 280 billion, the Internet usage paradigm has shifted into a new phase. Content can now automatically be generated and/or consumed not only by human users but also by machines. The age of deep connectivity starts to become reality.

But what about all the other wireless standards such as Bluetooth, Wireless-M-Bus, etc. that are already established and in use for different areas of application? Given the success of IP, will these other standards disappear?

The current development is a challenge and chance for existing standards at the same time. The individual disciplines have long been viewed as separate areas, with optimized, isolated solutions developed for each one. The goal today, however, is to break down these boundaries and combine the different aspects into one, intelligent overall system with a core network shaped by IPv6.

The solution to this approach lies in open interfaces and specifications with few obstacles to integration. However, this means that existing systems must become more open. In doing so, they can bring in their benefits and capture even new fields of application, assuming a new role in this connected world.

Energy harvesting wireless solutions are a good example of how this could look. Self-powered wireless technology is a particularly good choice for transmitting states and measured values from wireless switches, sensors, and actuators. Therefore, the wireless standard is very well established in building automation systems that allow an intelligent control of energy, comfort, and security. Due to the technology’s specific characteristics — being wireless, batteryless, and maintenance-free — self-powered sensors are also attractive to monitor outdoor data in the environment.

That’s why the technology is currently further developed to meet the requirements of outdoor sensing. This includes higher efficient harvesters, lower energy consumption, higher capacity energy storage, and longer range radio connection. Besides these technical features, open interfaces are defined that allow gateway and software providers to connect the energy harvesting wireless standard to different high level OS systems, like Windows, Java, Android, etc.

This has two effects: First, it is no longer required that the sensor nodes themselves physically communicate via IPv6 as the translation between the node’s protocol and IPv6 becomes transparent. This brings new possibilities of collecting data with self-powered nodes that use ambient energy as a power source to the IPv6 world. Secondly, services can arise that store and process the sensor data in the cloud and provide the information for different purposes.

So, integrating the different technologies more closely means that a system can access sensor data more directly, regardless of the situation, as well as run calculations on this basis and control actuators intelligently. The networks of self-powered sensors, actuators, and processors needed to do this can be created and modified dynamically as needed. The data can be stored and processed in a cloud-based infrastructure, so that once it has been collected, the data can be used for different applications.

Without doubt, energy harvesting wireless solutions allow a highly flexible and reliable data collection — indoor and outdoor. But only the system’s opening for IPv6 connectivity results in new, future-proof business models giving the data collected by self-powered notes a higher value.

20 comments on “Is There Space for Other Wireless Standards in an IP-Connected World?

  1. Victor Lorenzo
    April 18, 2014

    IPv6 was designed to replace IPv4 and overcome some IPv4 limitations being the limited node address space part of the main focus. IP specifications, in general, cover the logical part and provide some flexible guidelines for the physical link.

  2. Victor Lorenzo
    April 18, 2014

    In the OSI model, IPv6 is at the third layer (Layer 3), too far from the physical layer. It is completely transparent for IP protocols the way we implement the physical layer. That is it's main point/goal.

    M-Bus/Wireless M-Bus are standards that define one physical layer for metering data exchange in conjunction with some logical layers. We could eventually build IPv6 on top of M-bus.

    IPv6 can also be implemented on top of many other wireless/wired physical specification standards.

  3. Victor Lorenzo
    April 18, 2014

    >> This brings new possibilities of collecting data with self-powered nodes that use ambient energy as a power source to the IPv6 world .

    I agree with you, nodes are not required to implement IPv6. But this has a drawback as it forces us to put some gateway in the middle between the node and the IP network.

    Self powered/energy harvesting nodes are designed with lowest as possible power consumption in mind. This greatly impacts the physical communication interface in terms of available energy and puts a STOP sign to many communication interfaces and protocols, IPv6 included as its software implementation consumes too much memory (non volatile memory and RAM) and has a longer bus active time (larger frames) than other protocols.

     

  4. Davidled
    April 18, 2014

    In the protocol viewpoint, data frame with idle time would be optimized. Active time is not only dependent upon the protocol, but also module that receives data through the frame. For example, module should send ACK to other transmitter as quickly as possible. Hence, both sides are inactive mode through the protocol.

  5. matthias.poppel@enocean.com
    April 22, 2014

    Hi Victor,

    thanks for your comments. You are absolutely right. IPv6 is too resource hungry to be powered by energy harvesting sensors and it would drain battery operated equipment quite quickly.

    So we need an access point from the ultra low power EnOcean sensors to the IP network. The good news is that EnOcean to IP gateway radio technology has become available, so small and cheap that it can be integrated into one node of the network.

    In a home automation environment for example, a smart power plug equipped with such gateway technology could become the access point for all self powered EnOcean radio nodes in the room to the IP network.

    A little bit like the last mile copper network in a Telecom environment connected to the high speed optical backbone.

      

  6. Navelpluis
    April 23, 2014

    Here is an advice from a straight forward thinking analog engineer:

    Think before you do: Something has been invented a while ago, it is called: “Network Address Translation Tables”. Our routers do that. This means that there is absolutely no need for IPv6. Not needed anyway for local private networks, they are soooo local anyway, and sooo private. So before you throw away our last bits of privacy: Think before you use IPv6. But also, keep it simple !!

  7. geek
    April 25, 2014

    “This means that there is absolutely no need for IPv6.”

    @Navelplus: The reason of inventing IPv6 was the fact that IPv4 could only handle a limited number of addresses and as the number of internet users grew, the need for a different addressing mechansim was felt. Are you saying the need is not there because the routers are able to handle this on their own through local addressing? I'm not sure how you can say there's absolutely no need for IPv6.

  8. geek
    April 25, 2014

    @Victor: I don't see how IPv6 is going to replace technologies like Bluetooth which have pretty different use. Bluetooth is a peer to peer technology that only provides temporary connections in near proximity. I can understand it replacing IPv6 but not Bluetooth.

  9. Victor Lorenzo
    April 25, 2014

    @tzubair>> I don't see how IPv6 is going to replace technologies like Bluetooth which have pretty different use .

    IPv6 is not a wireless standard, it is just a generic network protocols set specification. IPv6 can be implemented on top of Bluetooth LE as well as on top of some other networks and physical interfaces. Take a look at 6LoWPAN too.

    >> Bluetooth is a peer to peer technology … Peer to Peer use cases are the most commonly used ones and foundation for several class/profiles, but BT also supports Personal Area Networks (PAN), known as piconets, with one master and up to 7 slaves. Several piconets can be connected together to form a scatternet.

     

  10. Netcrawl
    April 26, 2014

    @tzubair you're right about the internet, its growing fast and we started to see some major challenges ahead- we're running out of IP addreses. That's why we invented IP6 to solve the problem of IP4 address exhaustion, IP6 was designed primarily to supplement and eventually replace IP4.

    We need IP6 because we're growing fast and we losing too much spaces here, IP6 has significantly more address spaces, its address capacity could enable the billions new internet address needed to support connectivity for a whole new range of connected devices- wearabels, smartphones and IoT.  Not just address we're dealing here its alsoi bring some enhancement and capability.      

  11. Netcrawl
    April 26, 2014

    @tzubair IP6 is not going to replace technology like BlueTooth, its not going to happen. IP6 is a network protocol, and its main purpose is to ensure network growth and continued connectivity.  

  12. geek
    April 29, 2014

    @Victor: I agree that there are some similiarities between a PAN through Bluetooth and a LAN or a WAN. However, I don't see how IPv6 can replace Bluetooth technology? As you said, IPv6 can be implemented on top of Bluetooth as an addressing mechanism and I don't see how that will eradicate Bluetooth from the picture.

  13. Victor Lorenzo
    April 29, 2014

    @tzubair, I suppose your assumption that I propose the Bluetooth replacement by IPv6 comes from the title for the original comment, “Will IPv6 replace Bluetooth and alike? “. I selected the comment title as that replacement can be inferred from one paragraph in the blog post:

    But what about all the other wireless standards such as Bluetooth, Wireless-M-Bus, etc. that are already established and in use for different areas of application? Given the success of IP, will these other standards disappear ?

     

  14. geek
    April 29, 2014

     

    “IP6 was designed primarily to supplement and eventually replace IP4.”

     

    @Netcrawl: It was indeed designed to supplement and replace IPv4 but I think the transition is quite slow. Although most of the devices and their operating systems are capable of handling IPv6, almost all of the addressing is still taking place on the older version. I do wonder why is the transition a very slow process.

  15. amrutah
    April 29, 2014

    @tzubair: Yes, Me too have this question.  I had studied some 12-13 years back that IPV6 protocol is approved and will replace IPV4.  I still keep hearing about the transition from IPV4 to IPV6.  Why is the process so slow?, where's the bottleneck?

  16. Netcrawl
    April 29, 2014

    @amrutah, IP 6 deployment is a necessary upgrade procedures that requires huge investment but does not offer clear short-term return, and then there's some workarounds such as the introduction of NAT ( Network Address Translation). Those workarounds are expensive and takes some time, it also not viable in the long-term.  I think there's no need to panic, the IP 4 will continue to work exactly as it does today.  

  17. Netcrawl
    April 29, 2014

    @tzubair I think the current situation can be compared to Y2K problem, we have a “crisis”, in which companies and  organizations need to deploy the new protocol and used it. Once they take action, there little reason to expect that there would be a problem or some issues here. That's exactly what happened in january 2000, people, companies and organiztions recognized the “Y2K problem” and took the indicated action, as a result very few actual issues were seen in 2000.   

  18. amrutah
    April 29, 2014

    @netcrawl: Thanks.  IPV6 protocol is well defined and the day we start feeling that IPV4 is causing a problem, we can easily take a call then.  The Y2K analogy is good…  The info really helps understand the matter. 

  19. geek
    April 30, 2014

    “I still keep hearing about the transition from IPV4 to IPV6.  Why is the process so slow?, where's the bottleneck?”

    @amrutah: I'm not sure about it but I believe it's because the need has not been felt that strongly to migrate. The situation presented at the time that the world will be in dire need of a new addressing mechanism was more exaggerated. There may be other technical reasons behind it which I'm not aware of.

  20. geek
    April 30, 2014

    “That's exactly what happened in january 2000, people, companies and organiztions recognized the “Y2K problem” and took the indicated action, as a result very few actual issues were seen in 2000″

    @Netcrawl: That's one way of looking at it. However, I felt that even the Y2K problem was exaggerated (for whatever reasons) and the actual severity was not so strong. Companies were able to handle it beforehand without any glitches at all. Had it been a serious threat, you would have heard about some companies at least who didn't upgrade their systems and suffered a loss.

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