Smart Buildings

Cooking Up “Protocol Soup” for the Building Internet of Things (BIoT)

Most of the column inches dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT) inevitably focus on consumer products. However last weeks’ acquisition of IoT pioneer Neul by Chinese mobile giant Huawei has shifted focus a little bit towards M2M / Industrial solutions. Huawei paid a reported $25m for Neul, who are a key contributor to the development of the Weightless IoT standard. Neul have most recently been working on M2M solutions in licensed cellular bands, which fits nicely with Huawei’s business portfolio. The Internet of Things in Buildings (BIoT) provides a very different set of challenges to those faced in the consumer world. The BIoT will inevitably have to coexist with existing equipment and data networks for a significant length of time to come. The cost of replacing hardware & software in buildings is simply too prohibitive. Therefore the BIoT will have to accommodate disparate technologies; cooking up a networking ‘protocol soup’ with ingredients like BACNet, […]

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Most of the column inches dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT) inevitably focus on consumer products. However last weeks’ acquisition of IoT pioneer Neul by Chinese mobile giant Huawei has shifted focus a little bit towards M2M / Industrial solutions.

Huawei paid a reported $25m for Neul, who are a key contributor to the development of the Weightless IoT standard. Neul have most recently been working on M2M solutions in licensed cellular bands, which fits nicely with Huawei’s business portfolio.

The Internet of Things in Buildings (BIoT) provides a very different set of challenges to those faced in the consumer world. The BIoT will inevitably have to coexist with existing equipment and data networks for a significant length of time to come.

The cost of replacing hardware & software in buildings is simply too prohibitive. Therefore the BIoT will have to accommodate disparate technologies; cooking up a networking ‘protocol soup’ with ingredients like BACNet, LonWorks, KNX and Modbus.

The diagram above is taken from our new report “The Internet of Things in Smart Buildings 2014 to 2020” which will be published next week. It goes some way to representing how numerous technical services in buildings will be connected by a common wired and wireless data communications layer.

As we move towards this model, more and more devices will inevitably become wireless.

Professor Jim Norton, Chair of the UK Spectrum Policy Forum, recently commented that “the acceleration towards total mobility is eliminating the distinction between fixed and mobile communications to become just connectivity”.

Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Thread, 6LowPAN etc can all provide wireless data communications in buildings and 3G / 4G (at some point 5G & Weightless) outside. The line between wired and wireless communications continues to blur adding even more ingredients to the ‘protocol soup’.

“The question now is really, how long is the radio link into the fixed network backhaul and what implications does that have for the fixed networks?” said Professor Norton.

With the coming explosion of connected sensors and devices, it is incumbent on the Smart Building industry to connect different data protocols in a seamless and secure way.

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