Internet of Things

Changing The Way Sensors Communicate Via Dual-Band Wireless Connectivity

February 10, 2017 By: Ben Gilboa, Texas Instruments

Sensors Insights by Ben Gilboa

In the recent months, we have seen wireless system-on-chip (SoC) devices introduced to the market that are equipped with dual-band operation capabilities supporting both Sub-1 GHz and Bluetooth low energy technologies. This ability opens up a new horizon of opportunities for building smarter wireless sensor networks. Traditionally, sensors have communicated with a centralized panel or from sensor to sensor directly. With the addition of Bluetooth low energy, the sensors can not only communicate as before, but also communicate directly with a smartphone or a tablet.

Wireless sensors are well known and heavily deployed in households and buildings. In recent years, technology improvements such as improved RF performance, lower-power consumption, easier integration and lower cost have made wireless communication the preferred way of connecting sensors. Wireless sensor networks offer a simple, cost efficient installation process and are easier to scale over wired networks.

Sub-1 GHz is a common RF technology used for wireless sensor communication. Thanks to its physical characteristics, Sub-1 GHz technology achieves a longer range and better penetration through walls compared to other technologies that are based on the 2.4 GHz band. Sub-1 GHz is often the technology of choice for sensor networks. Using a standard protocol like the IEEE 802.15.4g over the Sub-1 GHz band would allow a developer to build a robust and secure multi-sensor network that communicates to a central unit without the need to invent a proprietary protocol.

Fig. 1: A Sub-1 GHz star network using dual-band connectivity to connect to a smartphone.
Fig. 1: A Sub-1 GHz star network using dual-band connectivity to connect to a smartphone.

Now by using a dual-band wireless device such as the SimpleLink dual-band CC1350 wireless microcontroller (MCU), it is easy to add Bluetooth low energy to the Sub-1 GHz end-node sensors. This capability opens the way to endless new use cases and applications that communicate directly with the wireless sensor. The wireless sensor end node is then part of the Sub-1 GHz network which is connected to a gateway or panel, but it can now also communicate with a smartphone directly.

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About the Author: Ben Gilboa

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