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IP-based Connectivity with IEEE 802.15.4 Wireless Networks: Brief

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IP-based Connectivity with IEEE 802.15.4 Wireless Networks: Brief

IEEE 802.15.4 radios have gained in popularity, and various protocols are used over these radios for wireless connections. IP connectivity is desired for many of these wireless links, but it must be secure and low power. David Culler explores the case for 6LoWPAN* in wireless sensor networks.

Industrial instrumentation makers have repeatedly grappled with questions of how and when to utilize IP-based interconnects¾which have in their favor widespread commercial adoption, rapid development cycles, and broad interoperability¾in place of their more traditional, often proprietary industrial counterparts. Ethernet led the way as an alternative to RS-485* and other multidrop buses, and many industrial standards, including BACNet*, LonTalk*, Common Industrial Protocol* (CIP), and Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition* (SCADA), introduced an IP option utilizing either TCP/IP or UDP/IP over Ethernet. However, IP’s ease of integration and broad interoperability raised some fears about reduced barriers to attack.

Meanwhile, the abundant benefits of operating above IP rather than directly on the particular link became apparent as the broad commercialization of Ethernet yielded 10, 100, and 1,000 Mbps in short order and at low cost. In addition, Wi-Fi* (IEEE 802.11) emerged as the dominant wireless link for computers, laptops, and PDAs. Once link-level security was in place with Wi-Fi Protected Access* (WPA), this became widespread in industrial environments as well¾just another link under IP. Given its high power consumption, Wi-Fi has been most widely adopted on handheld client devices and embedded PCs, which are recharged on a daily basis or mains powered.

Read the full IP-based Connectivity with IEEE 802.15.4 Wireless Networks Solution Brief.