Tracking devices use Zigbee technology

IDC is introducing two personnel interactive tracker devices based upon Zigbee, and a short-range wireless personal area network that is suitable for tracking of both personnel and assets. The two trackers are true system-on-a-chip devices. Designed for operation with IDC IEEE 802.15.4 wireless gateways, they use industry-leading CC2420 RF transceivers, have built-in positional location engines, and can remain dormant for months before waking up to report at either event-driven or planned time intervals.

The personnel interactive trackers are pushbutton devices; they comprise a key fob unit offering one to five buttons, and a larger handheld unit delivering up to nine buttons, all user-defined, in common with the key fob unit. Both devices use the 802.15.4-based Zigbee, which is designed for remote control and sensors. These can be many in number, but only require small packets of data and, in the main, extremely low power consumption for long life. Typical applications include lone alarm, interactive machine control and remote control applications.

Employing Zigbee's ability to be integrated into small chips, the IDC personnel tracker devices integrate with Zigbee-compatible hardware, offering facilities for user inputs and sensor networking. Zigbee technology is characterised by small chips that consume little power, so the trackers are low-power devices with long battery life and can 'sleep' for 99 per cent of the time until awakened either by a beacon signal or because a reporting period is due.

Benefits of Zigbee

Zigbee differs from RFID in that it is a full- blown telemetry system in its own right, with the ability to provide wireless personal area networking (WPAN) ie digital radio connections between computers and related devices, such as sensors. This kind of network eliminates the use of physical data buses such as USB and Ethernet cables. As such, Zigbee is excellent for 'copper-less' warehouses or factories.

Zigbee is designed to enable two-way communications, so users can not only monitor and keep track of inventories, they can also feed this data to a computer system for data analysis. In addition, Zigbee nodes offer the ability to be interrogated remotely by authorised personnel, enabling changes in system parameters or distribution patterns where necessary.

The power and flexibility inherent in Zigbee technology is exemplified by its ability to support hundreds of devices in star, tree or mesh formations. The technology provides high reliability, self-healing, self-joining networks, with network protocol security encryption; it is also designed to operate in electrically noisy industrial environments.

Intelligent Distributed Controls Ltd (IDC)

Keynes House
Chester Park, Alfreton Road
DE21 4AS

+44 (0)1332 604 030

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