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Wireless sensing held back by lack of standards

04 September, 2011

The global market for wireless sensor networks will grow from $0.45bn in 2011 to $2bn by 2021, according to a new report from the US analyst, IDTechEx. But it warns that a lack of standards and a tendency to sell hardware without supporting software could hinder the market.

According to IDTechEx, many companies implementing ZigBee, for example, meet the basic criteria to use the ZigBee label but add their own capabilities, resulting in systems that are not interoperable with sensors from other vendors. And some vendors, including large system integrators that have their own proprietary wireless communications, are hoping that these will become the chosen “standard". This is deterring potential users.

Another potential problem – partly arising from the fact that sensors from different vendors don’t work together – is that no-one has tested networks consisting of tens of thousands of wireless sensor nodes. Theory suggests that key network paths may form and if they are removed, systems could slow down to unacceptable levels.

Another challenge, says IDTechEx, is that that many vendors offer only hardware, leaving users to find the software needed to make useful decisions on the data collected. One exception is a UK company, Ubisense, which offers real-time locating systems.

IDTechEx expects the average price of wireless sensor nodes to drop from $29 in 2011 to $25 by 2021.

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