Wireless systems are becoming an important part of many new home area networks. Wireless systems give high levels of portability and convenience to home owners, and allowing a wide variety of remote devices to communicate with each other without expensive, complicated and awkward wiring layouts.
With the emergence of the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless standard, self-forming and self-healing star and mesh networks can securely cover a household area of 30 to 70 meters.
Under this standard, most of the data that circulates within a wireless home’s network of sensors and actuators consists of small data packets that either control devices or obtain their current status. For most home applications – such as wireless smoke and CO2 detectors, or wireless home security – all devices remain in deep-sleep mode until needed. They only send a short burst of information if a rare triggering event occurs. This means battery-powered wireless devices can operate for years at a time, instead of months.
Over the last decades, digital home technology has progressively spawned a range of competing standards and hardware such as X10, CeBIT and C-Bus, along with emerging competitors like Z-Wave. Similar technologies include X10 enhancements like Insteon and new wireless standards such as ZigBee.
Given this plethora of systems, protocols and brand dependent control systems, Internet Protocol based systems may be the low cost future pathway for the digital home. IP is convenient for installers because the network structure is already in place, while consumers can program and control complex systems using standard PCs or PDAs, rather than expensive, branded standalone devices.
This, along with many enhanced security and control features means that high speed wireless is set to play a major role in any future digital home development strategy.