Dust Networks puts wireless sensor network on single chip

Dust Networks this week introduced a simpler, less expensive wireless sensor network with a new chip.

Dust Networks this week introduced a simpler, less expensive wireless sensor network with a new chip.

The system-on-a-chip incorporates all the key elements of a sensor set: Dust's network protocol, low-power technology, and code. It will run first with a 900Mhz radio. By replacing larger, bulkier circuit boards with third-party chips, the new silicon minimizes the software coding and number of components that manufacturers need to create wireless sensor products or add them to a range of industrial equipment.

Some rival products offer microprocessors, but require customers to write a lot of communications code, says Rob Conant, vice president of business development for Dust.

By reducing the code and components to one chip, Dust also capitalizes on twin benefits of high-volume silicon manufacturing: ever-dropping chip prices and ever-increasing chip capacity.

Emerson Process Management last month announced it was adopting Dust's products as the basis for a new line of wireless plant measurement and monitoring systems.

The new chip includes Dust's wireless routing protocol, the Time Synchronized Mesh Protocol and an API, all introduced just two years ago. The company is focused on the industrial space and created its own protocol rather than use the ZigBee software stack in order tailor the network for demanding industrial environments, specifically for high reliability and low power consumption, Conant says.

Low-power wireless mesh networks make it feasible to deploy large numbers of sensors to measure such things as temperature, moisture and vibration, and report the data back to applications for monitoring and preventive maintenance.

Samples of the new chip are available now for 900MHz networks. Samples for IEEE 802.15.4-based radios, and for the 2.4GHz band, will be ready in early 2007.

Learn more about this topic

Overview of Dust's technology

Emerson selects Dust for wireless plant networks


Dust provides meshed WLANs for industrial use


For wireless sensor nets, reality sets in


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