IDC says it is making the cable-less machine a reality with the launch of its new range of ZigBee wireless products. These enable machine builders and original equipment manufacturers to integrate wireless networking into their equipment, thereby enabling considerable reductions to be made in cabling and installation costs. Such savings are possible because ZigBee is a full-blown telemetry system; it therefore eliminates the requirement for physical data buses such as USB and Ethernet cables.
IDC's family of ZigBee products is designed around the company's ZB108 OEM module, which features a complete system–on-chip (SoC) comprising a high-performance microprocessor with digital, analogue and serial connectivity.
Also included in the family of modules are Ethernet and serial gateways, routers, logic and serial controllers, handheld keypads, key fobs with touch-screen, and general-purpose analogue modules, which are to be introduced shortly. All the devices offer the benefit of being designed to operate in electrically noisy environments. They feature embedded intelligence, unique 16-digit identifiers, extremely low power consumption, and they integrate internal position tracking algorithms based on received signal strength.
The wireless network used by the ZigBee products is based on the licence-free international standard IEEE 802.15.4, which provides 2.4GHz, two-way communications and is capable of connecting hundreds of devices together in a mesh network using gateways, routers and end devices (usually battery powered). The product range features the ZigBee stack, which leverages the advantages of continued mainstream development and future compatibility with other manufacturers' equipment and products.
IDC is supporting its ZigBee range of products with complementary software applications, including over-the-air programming, data logging, remote control and position tracking.
A function block logic configuration tool, based on IEC 61499 distributed multiprocessor networking, is also in development and due for release in 2008.
In addition, for machine builders and system designers who require wireless mesh networking, IDC offers the ability to design bespoke hardware and software systems based on existing designs, to reduce risk, the cost of development, time to market and certification costs.
Importantly for users of the ZigBee range, IDC is not reliant on third-party software providers; hardware, application firmware, PC-based software and server applications are all designed in-house by IDC software engineers.