Smart Homes - The Future is Here

September 20, 2018 at 10:00 AM

 

Long ago, the idea of a home having the technology to be interactive was only a possibility in a Hollywood production or sci-fi novel. But those days are gone, the future is here and smart homes have moved from the realm of fantasy to an endless world of possibility. With the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), the world in general is becoming smarter and safer, and that includes our homes. Here, we’ll take a look at the technology behind the innovation bringing technological magic to your home.

 

First, what is a smart home? A smart home is automated, much in the way your coffee pot or your air conditioner are automated to turn on at a certain time or temperature. But a smart home takes that one step further by connecting all of those automated devices in your home through a wireless network, they are then able to be monitoring and programmed from one device. It is that communication with the devices that makes it smart. The devices in a smart home all rely on connectors and sensors to transmit and relay signals. Most wireless home automation uses low-power equipment so that power supply is not an issue.

 

To connect all of these devices, a combination of long and short-range wireless communication protocols is used, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ANT and ZigBee. With this technology, along with smartphones and tablets, we are now able to connect a multitude of devices within the home, this includes TVs, heating and cooling systems, lighting, appliances, security systems and cameras, or anything else that can be connected to the network. Plus, the communication to these devices is not distance limited, meaning you can control or change your thermostat while you’re at work or traveling using WAN connectivity via a router. Many new homes are being constructed with this technology built-in, older homes can be retrofitted with smart technologies and there are devices from companies like Google and Amazon that will connect to many electronics within your home.

 

Why would someone want a smart home? For one, it can make life a lot easier. Being able to control the devices within your home from your smartphone is super convenient. There is also an additional level of safety added when you’re able to monitor your home through a connected security network. Video cameras can provide surveillance in and around the home, with smart locks you can allow repairmen into your home and you are able to monitor when children get home from school. For people with disabilities or limited movement, smart homes that allow them to manage the home environment from a single, mobile device can make life much easier. In addition to safety, smart homes can be very energy efficient, which is good for the environment. Being able to control the thermostat remotely and turn lights and appliances on or off can be a great way to save energy.

 

With the growth of the IoT and more things becoming connected, it is no wonder that this would apply to our homes as well. Not only do smart homes provide convenience, they can also be good for the environment and give assistance to the disabled. Lucky for us, we no longer have to wait for the home of the future, the future is now. 

 

What You Need to Know About WiMAX 802.16

July 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

In the IEEE’s world of standards, 802.16 is dedicated to the global deployment of broadband metropolitan area networks. The technology for this standard has been named WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability of Microwave Access), it is used for long-rage wireless networking for mobile and fixed connections. Though not as popular as Wi-Fi or LTE, WiMAX has much to offer.

 

When compared to similar technologies, WiMAX offers low cost and increased flexibility. It is an OFDMA-based, all IP, data-centric technology ideal for use in 4G mobile. WiMAX can be installed with shorter towers and less cabling, which supports city or country-wide non-line-of-sight (NLoS) coverage. This cuts down installation time and saves on cost when compared to standard wired technology such as DSL. In addition to fixed connections, WiMAX service is offered through a subscription for access via devices with built-in technology. Currently, WiMAX is in many devices such as phones, laptops, Wi-Fi devices and USB dongles.

 

WiMAX is capable of speeds up to 40 Mbps over a distance of several miles. WiMAX can also provide more than just internet access, it can deliver video and voice transmissions and telephone access. All of these capabilities, plus lower cost and faster installation times make it an attractive option for areas where wired internet is too costly or not available. WiMAX can also be used in several other ways: as a backhaul to transfer data through an internet network, as a replacement for satellite internet for fixed wireless broadband access and for mobile internet access comparable to LTE.

 

After many revisions, WiMAX has now evolved into its most current version: WiMAX Advanced, which is backwards-compatible with previous versions (WiMAX Release 1.0 and 2.0). WiMAX Advanced utilizes all of the same capabilities while providing 100 Mbps mobile speeds and 1 Gbps fixed station speeds. Plus, WiMAX Advanced supports additional devices and broadband wireless access technologies, MIMO, beamforming and radio access technologies for operation within a multi radio access network. WiMAX is managed by the WiMAX forum, a non-profit group that certifies and endorses wireless products that are compatible with the 802.16 standard, these include WiMAX Advanced, AeroMACS and WiGRID.

 

Of course, there are drawbacks to WiMAX, speeds can get slower as the source gets further away. Also, when multiple users are connected at the same time, performance can suffer. WiMAX might never be as popular as Wi-Fi, but there are plenty of benefits that make it a good option to consider.

 

How Tech is Changing Transportation

April 19, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

These days, it’s hard to find a part of our everyday lives that’s not being transformed in some way by technology. Transportation is no different. Driverless cars have been at the forefront of most transportation technology discussions lately, but do you know other ways that tech is changing how we get from point A to point B? Here, we’ll take a look at some of the ways technology is changing the transportation industry.

 

Rail

 

Railways are one of the oldest forms of transportation still used today. At their inception, trains were a groundbreaking way for people to get back and forth for everyday commutes, to explore places they’d never been and to transport goods at speeds that were unheard of at the time. Rail systems are still used today for many of the same reasons, but they are much smarter. Today’s rail yards have wired and wireless technology that allows for communication throughout the rail yard to provide security, control and real-time data collection.

 

RFID technology has also been put in place to modernize asset management in rail yard operations. Instead of employees walking from one car to another, manually recording inventory, today’s systems use electronic scanners to record asset information accurately and without the variable of human error. This data is then sent back to a central office where assets can be monitored in real time.

 

Technology is also being used to make rail travel safer by using wayside monitoring applications to record real-time data such as speed, time of passing and track conditions. This critical information is used for real-time scheduling and to generate safety alerts.

 

Roadways

 

Until all of those self-driving cars get on the road, and possibly still after, making roadways safer is another way technology is affecting the transportation industry. In tunnels, cellular and Wi-Fi service are provided by antennas while IP cameras connect to an Ethernet network. These cameras provide real time surveillance to a tunnel control center, so traffic and safety concerns can be monitored live. Digital signs are also connected to the Ethernet network, allowing them to be controlled remotely.

 

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) use wired and wireless technology to control roadway traffic signals and vehicle and pedestrian safety systems. These systems utilize technology to manage traffic flow and ease congestion on the roads. Roadway security and overall safety is also improved with IP cameras and traffic sensors providing live surveillance and control.

 

With the use of wireless technology, roadside digital signs are able to deliver real time messaging along roadways with live updates being delivered from a central control office. These messages can include weather updates, traffic and road condition alerts and information on alternate routes, all of which can make travel easier, more efficient and save lives.

 

Maritime

 

An entire ship, including every part of shipboard communications and surveillance, can be managed via a central management station by using an Ethernet network and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). 

 

IP cameras are used for monitoring, cables connect propulsion and steering systems to a controller, and antennas allow for voice and data communications and RFID management of cargo containers.

 

To load and unload ships, modern seaport terminals use automated crane systems to save freight companies millions of dollars in labor, maintenance and repairs. Computers are housed in a secure location, connected to Ethernet networks and used to control the cranes. This wireless network allows remote control over operations without the cost of running cables.

 

On the dock, keeping track of personnel, assets and ground support vehicles is made easier with wireless communications. Antennas allow for communication with the central operations command center. They also support Intermodal container RFID tracking systems which enable wireless devices to quickly and accurately process container and inventory information in real-time. With cellular and Wi-Fi communication between crews, freight companies can save money and increase security by eliminating the need for traditional radio communications.

 

For an in-depth look at what L-com products are being used to deliver technology to the transportation industry, click here.

 

The Full Spectrum of Wireless Communications Protocols and Standards

March 1, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

The IoT is the driving force behind most wireless technology today. Everything including cars, smart homes, businesses and cities will be connected by the IoT. Plus, an estimated 300 million smartphones are slated to have artificial neural network (ANN) learning capabilities that would enable functions such as navigation, speech recognition and augmented reality.

 

With all the wireless technology rolling out and market demand for wireless communications applications continuing to grow, the development of different wireless technologies is also exploding to meet that demand. In fact, there are so many new technologies emerging that some directly compete with one another and frequencies overlap.

 

Many protocols are in accordance with IEEE 802.11 standards. The IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee (LMSC) develops the most widely known wired and wireless standards, which encompasses local and metropolitan area networks. The fundamental IEEE standard of 802.11.n had of a minimum of 31 amendments through 2016, with more in the process. These cover everything from Ethernet, wireless LAN, virtual LAN, wireless hot spots, bridging and more.

 

Other IEEE standards include:

 

-    IEEE 802.15.4 for Simplified Personal Wireless and Industrial Short-Range Links

-    IEEE 802.15 Wireless PAN

-    IEEE 802.16 Broadband Wireless (WiMAX)

-    IEEE 802.22 for Wireless Regional Area Network (WRAN), with base station range to 60 miles

-    IEEE 802.23 for Emergency Service Communications

 

802.11 wireless technology began when the FCC released the industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands for unlicensed use. The ISM bands were then established in 1974 by the International telecommunication Union (ITU).

 

These are the frequency allocations as determined by the ITU:

 

Min. Freq.

Max. Freq

Type

Availability

Licensed Users

6.765 MHz

6.795 MHz

A

Local Acceptance

Fixed & Mobile Service

13.553 MHz

13.567 MHz

B

Worldwide

Fixed & Mobile Service except Aeronautical

26.957 MHz

27.283 MHz

B

Worldwide

Fixed & Mobile Service except Aeronautical & CB

40.66 MHz

40.7 MHz

B

Worldwide

Fixed, Mobile & Earth Exploration/Satellite Service

433.05 MHz

434.79 MHz

A

Europe

Amateur & Radiolocation Service

902 MHz

928 MHz B

B

Americas

Fixed, Mobile & Radiolocation Service

2.4 GHz

2.5 GHz

B

Worldwide

Fixed, Mobile, Radiolocation, Amateur & Amateur Satellite Service

5.725 GHz

5.875 GHz

B

Worldwide

Fixed-Satellite, Radiolocation, Mobile, Amateur & Amateur Satellite Service

24 GHz

24.25 GHz

B

Worldwide

Amateur, Amateur Satellite, Radiolocation & Earth Exploration Satellite

61 GHz

61.5 GHz

A

Local Acceptance

Fixed, Inter-satellite, Mobile & Radiolocation

122 GHz

123 GHz

A

Local Acceptance

Earth Exploration Satellite, Inter-Satellite, Space Research

244 GHz

246 GHz

A

Local Acceptance

Radiolocation, Radio Astronomy, Amateur & Satellite Service

 

In addition to IEEE standards, other technologies have broken away from IEEE and made the move to special trade organizations and even changed their names. Plus, there is a slew of short range communications standards vying for dominance, including ANT+, Bluetooth, FirstNet and ZigBee. No matter what your wireless communication application is, rest assured that there are plenty of standards and protocols to refer to when designing your wireless network.

 

What You Need to Know About 802.11ay

November 9, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Products for 802.11ad have only begun hitting the market in the past year, and already the IEEE is working on improvements in the form of 802.11ay. This new and improved standard will expand upon 802.11ad technology by delivering faster and longer-range Wi-Fi networks. Expected to be released in late 2019, 802.11ay will increase bandwidth and improve the reliability and robustness of the unlicensed 60GHz millimeter wave spectrum. It will be designed to improve throughput, range and use-cases.

 

The next generation wireless standard promises significant improvements upon the 7 Gbps speed and 10-meter distance capabilities of 802.11ad. 802.11ay will be capable of transmission rates of 20 to 30 Gbps and distances of 30 meters with 11ay-to-11ay device setups. When channel bonding, MIMO and additional capabilities are added into the mix, it’s possible that 802.11ay will deliver speeds closer to 200 Gbps and extend transmission distances up to 300 meters.

  

As an amendment for improving the performance of the 802.11ad standard, 802.11ay will support the same broad applications and be backward compatible with the 802.11ad standard. 802.11ay will focus on new applications for mobile offloading, wireless docking and display connectivity. It will also be ideal for fixed point-to-point or point-to-multipoint outdoor backhaul applications. 802.11ay might also be used in internal mesh and backbone networks, to provide connectivity to VR headsets, support server backups and manage cloud applications that require low latency. The main targets for 802.11ay are DisplayPort, HDMI and USB connectivity, fast synch as well as short-range, high-bandwidth connectivity to TV and monitor displays. It could even act as a replacement for HDMI and USB and make the equipment more intuitive.

 

802.11ay is primed to pack a punch with super-charged 20 Gig speeds and greater transmission distance. This revolutionary IEEE standard will surely break records and set the standard for future wireless technology.

 

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