Wireless Sensors

WSJ writes about ABB’s use of wireless technologies, naming the company as the winner of its European Technology Innovation award:

Swiss engineering company ABB Ltd. is aiming to usher in a new era for assembly-line robots, which have typically been weighed down by the cables used to transmit information about their performance to factory computers. Instead, Robbie (a robot) is fitted with wireless sensors that can send the performance data through the air using radio waves.

These sensors are just one example of how wireless technology is moving beyond mobile phones and into hidden corners of industry, transforming the way factories and distribution chains operate. Radio tags are already being used to track the movement of beer kegs, and experts believe wireless chips will be attached to billions of machines and objects over the next decade, allowing computers to continually monitor their condition and location.

The biggser story: “As well as helping industry to better manage assets, Lars Godell, an analyst with Forrester Research in Amsterdam, says this invisible world of wireless will open new business opportunities for semiconductor suppliers and companies selling computers to handle all the data the wireless chips will generate.”

The future: a world of machine-to-machine communications. Writes WSJ:

Deloitte Consulting, pointing out that machines outnumber humans by 4 to 1, believes that machine-to-machine communication could be a vast new market for mobile-phone operators. But that might depend on operators offering machines cut-price tariffs. If not, much of the data generated by wireless sensors is likely to travel just a few yards through the air using unlicensed spectrum, rather than commercial mobile-phone networks, before being piped through fixed networks to corporate databases.

Still, there are companies building machines designed specifically for use with mobile-phone networks. Nokia Corp., the world’s largest handset maker, plans to launch an “observation camera” with a built-in mobile network connection in the second quarter of 2003. Nokia envisages that users will position the camera in a room they wish to monitor, such as a kitchen with a pet dog in it. They will then be able to use their mobile phone to send a text message to the camera requesting it take a picture. The camera will then send the photo back to the user’s handset.

Nokia says the observation camera can also be configured to send a picture when it detects motion or at regular intervals. It is also designed to record sounds or take the temperature of its surroundings. “You could, for example, check the weather at the golf course before leaving home to play,” says Janne Jormalainen, vice president of Nokia’s mobile enhancements business unit.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.