Page 28 - 2020 Interconnect Innovations eBook
P. 28

Wireless sensors solve these problems. Although the wireless gateway is hardwired back to a central station, many wireless sensors are handled by a single gateway, eliminating a great deal of cable and conduit. In this scenario, the single cable from the gateway back to the central station is carrying data from many sensors instead of just one. This is also an easily scalable architecture, as the gateway can likely handle additional wireless sensors, or an additional gateway could be installed to accommodate an additional double or triple the number of sensors — a task that would be impossible to do the conventional way at the same cost.
Driver 2: Continued Electrification has Dramatically Improved Battery Performance
Wireless sensors require batteries to perform as expected. The most significant factor in the success or failure of utilizing wireless sensors is the battery’s performance. Having to frequently replace depleted batteries chips away at the economic business case for using wireless sensors, not to mention loss of data while the sensor is left unpowered.
Technological improvements in battery performance have not kept up with other performance improvements in electronics; that is, until recently. The drive for electrification in the transportation sectors (e.g., electric vehicles and aerial drones) has dramatically lowered the cost of batteries and improved their performance. The cost of lithium- based batteries, which are still the best technology and preferred choice for wireless applications, has come down significantly, from about $1,200 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to about $175 per kilowatt-hour in 2018. The day is not far off when operating an electric vehicle will be cheaper than operating a gas-powered vehicle. The availability of improved battery life also makes the operation of wireless sensors more economically feasible. Going from replacing batteries every few months to every year, and now to every two years and beyond, suddenly makes the operation of wireless sensors cost competitive with wired sensors.
Driver 3: The Rise of the IoT has Improved Digital Radio Performance
The IoT, which connects devices to the internet so they can be controlled and managed remotely, has led to dramatic improvements in digital radio communications in terms of both the radio hardware and communications protocols. With the rise of smartphones and always-connected tablets and PCs, radio hardware costs have continuously been driven downward. Mobility requirements have demanded ultra-low-power radio chipsets to extend battery life. The sheer volume of data generated from all these devices has demanded the efficient, economical use of wireless bandwidth. LoRaWAN is emerging as the most promising of the low-power, wide-area networks (LPWANs) available because it:
• Utilizes unlicensed, sub-gigahertz radio spectrum
• Has ultra-low-power requirements that extend battery life
• Supports long-range communications between sensors and gateways (5km or greater depending on local conditions)
• Enables flexible deployment and can penetrate deep in mixed environments
• Allows data to be sent asynchronously (i.e., only sent when necessary), which further extends battery life
» Another IoT-enabled, wireless sensor with digital capabilities is TE Connectivity’s M5600 wireless pressure transducer. For precise measurement of liquid or gas pressure sensing, the M5600 sensor offers a 24-bit ADC digital output that eliminates hardwiring and provides remote process control and monitoring via Bluetooth 4.0 wireless communication.

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