Wireless Applications

Demo Showcases Energy-Saving with Home Area Networks

January 22, 2008

Arch Rock's demo of 'home area networks' (HANs) at DistribuTECH 2008 shows how utilities, consumers can cooperate to control power usage.


TAMPA, FL--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A group of industry-leading vendors at DistribuTECH 2008 are demonstrating how the technology underlying the Internet and ubiquitous in enterprise information systems will create the foundation for powerful home area networks (HANs) that can help consumers save on energy costs.

The demonstration illustrates how IP-based wireless sensor networking, "smart" metering, thermostat devices and energy services management software together form a seamless end-to-end system for utilities to deliver sustainable demand-response programs to achieve peak-load reductions and efficiency while providing consumers greater awareness of and control over their energy usage.

The demo is being conducted by wireless sensor network provider Arch Rock Corp. and includes products from Arch Rock, "smart grid" infrastructure provider Silver Spring Networks, and thermostat provider Radio Thermostat Corp. of America (RTCA).

The demonstration showcases a live wireless sensor network implementation of the recently approved IETF 6LoWPAN (RFC 4944) standard, which defines how IP communication is conducted over low-power wireless personal-area networks. Arch Rock in March 2007 introduced the first commercial implementation of 6LoWPAN, which enables wireless IP data transmission over the IEEE 802.15.4 low-power radio for devices with limited space, power and memory, such as the thermostats and other sensing devices.

In the demonstration, an RTCA or Invensys thermostat employs an Arch Rock IP 6LoWPAN module to communicate wirelessly with an in-home energy control device, which in turn communicates with a server on the utility Smart Grid network. This enables the utility grid operator to send a variety of pricing, load-shed and usage signals to the energy control device, which responds by changing the thermostat's set point, resulting in immediate energy reduction. All control messages are confirmed to the network, delivering assured reliability to the operator and the consumer.

Arch Rock CEO Roland Acra said, "Developments such as 6LoWPAN have exploded the myth that IP is too 'heavyweight' a mechanism for communicating with lights, meters, thermostats and other low-power, low-bandwidth devices. As utilities replace their legacy infrastructure, nothing makes more sense than to create home networks around the IP standard, which has stood the test of time and can scale to support billions of devices. This standard will be a key factor in emerging utility-driven demand-management architectures that will enable far greater control of energy at both the provider and consumer levels."

"Utilities around the world are driving the implementation of a fully-integrated Smart Grid to increase efficiency, reduce environmental impacts and improve profitability," said Eric Dresselhuys, vice president of Silver Spring Networks. "Only IP—the worldwide standard in networking—can deliver the proven scale, reliability and security required to make the Smart Grid real."

Dan Goodman, chief technical officer of RTCA, said, "Supporting IP networking through the 6LoWPAN standard will help RTCA significantly broaden the range of utility and end-user customers we can serve. Arch Rock's innovative implementation of 6LoWPAN allowed us to quickly bring our first 'IP enabled' thermostat solutions to market."

About Arch Rock Corp.
Arch Rock is a pioneer in open-standards-based wireless sensor network technology. The company's products, which gather data from the physical world and integrate it into the enterprise IT infrastructure using IP networking and web services, are used in environmental monitoring, tracking and logistics, industrial automation and control. Arch Rock's founders, while at the University of California-Berkeley and Intel Research, did seminal research and development work on WSNs, creating three generations of wireless sensor nodes, mesh networking protocols, and the leading operating system for sensor networks.


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