B&B Electronics launches Wzzard intelligent sensing platform for IoT

Wzzard wireless sensor connectivity platform is designed to accelerate development of smart, power-efficient Internet of Things applications delivering intelligent connectivity starting at the network edge

B&B Electronics launches Wzzard intelligent sensing platform for IoT

B&B Electronics, a developer of mission-critical network connectivity products, introduced its new Wzzard intelligent sensing platform today (23 July 2014). It describes Wzzard as an easy to use, complete wireless sensor connectivity platform for the rapid deployment of scalable, intelligent, reliable Internet of Things (IoT) networking in remote and demanding environments.   

Wzzard was designed to help integrators, VARs (value added retailers) and service providers efficiently develop and deploy secure, smart, self-powered, and scalable IoT applications.

Unlike a traditional SCADA ((supervisory control and data acquisition) application where sensors and edge devices are simply passive conduits for raw data, edge decision making delivers a more effective network.  

Using iterative control limits and gateway data aggregation to support applications closer to the network edge, the Wzzard intelligent sensing platform brings this intelligence to the network starting at the sensor, creating a more responsive, reliable and efficient network.

Wzzard intelligent edge nodes
There are several key components and technologies that comprise B&B Electronics’ Wzzard intelligent sensing platform. First, Wzzard intelligent edge nodes will connect, via conduit fitting cable gland or M12 connector, to any industry-standard sensor. General-purpose analogue inputs, digital input/output and thermocouple interfaces are included. B&B has already integrated internal temperature and accelerometer sensor options, and can integrate other application specific sensors upon request.  

The intelligent edge nodes are easily configurable, using Android or IoS smartphones or tablets and the Wzzard app over Bluetooth LE 4.0. They can be configured to communicate only data outside specified thresholds, reducing the cost on cellular networks, as well as to associate other useful information (geo-location, device name, and up-time) with the collected sensor data for upstream analytics applications.

Control time synchronisation is used to maximise battery life, exceeding fiveyears for many applications. Nodes are IP67 rated for outdoor use and include both magnetised and screw mount options.

SmartMesh IP wireless sensing technology
Next is the communications component. B&B chose SmartMesh IP wireless sensing technology from Linear Technologies Dust Networks. SmartMesh IP is based upon the wireless IEEE 802.15.4e standard and creates full-mesh networks, sometimes referred to as ‘mesh-to-the-edge’ networks.  

SmartMesh IP networks use a triple-play of wireless mesh technologies—time diversity, frequency diversity, and physical diversity—to assure reliability, resiliency, scalability, power source flexibility, and ease-of-use.  

At the core the technology is an intelligent mesh network with advanced algorithms and power saving technologies that enable powerful features not available from other wireless sensor network providers, according to B&B, including:
•    Ultra low power consumption
•    Deterministic power management and optimization
•    Auto-forming mesh technology for a self-healing and self-sustaining network
•    Dynamic bandwidth support, load balancing and optimization
•    Network management and configuration
•    Zero collision low power packet exchange
•    Scalability to large, dense, deep networks.

Wzzard’s intelligent edge nodes can join the mesh network at any time without gateway interaction. Nodes attach automatically, and the SmartMesh IP technology dynamically self-configures to re-form the mesh network. To ensure data always reaches the gateway, nodes will determine their optimal RF paths to other nodes and back to the gateway.

The SmartMesh IP protocol implemented within the edge nodes includes advanced network management functions and security features such as encryption and authentication.

What is Smartmesh?
Wzzard also uses the lightweight, publish/subscribe messaging transport MQTT protocol for sensor communications. MQTT is an extremely simple messaging protocol created for M2M and IoT applications over wireless networks. Its efficient distribution of information to single or multiple receivers, low power usage and minimised data packets make it ideal for mobile or remote locations.

Unlike older SCADA protocols such as Modbus, MQTT places few restrictions on the volume or type of data that can be communicated. This facilitates a meta-data approach where multiple IoT applications can act upon the information simultaneously without having to know its origin.  

Spectre intelligent gateway
Finally, B&B’s programmable, industrial-grade Spectre router serves as Wzzard’s intelligent gateway (pictured above with intelligent access nodes). Spectre can connect equipment and other devices to the Internet or Intranet over either wired Ethernet or wireless cellular connections. Spectre is built for plug-and-play simplicity with extensive remote management, deployment and customization options.  

It is a robust, flexible gateway designed for easy deployment in demanding environments and the cellular version creates secure connections in locations where cable connections are impractical.  

Processed information from the sensor nodes is published through the Spectre gateway up to the customer’s IoT application using MQTT transport protocol.

SeeControl is one of the first IoT platform providers to leverage the Wzzard intelligent sensing platform and MQTT protocols to develop applications.

“Today, most business analytics can only describe what has happened and why,” said Parthesh Shastri, SeeControl’s vice president of customer success and strategy.

“The industry can move past descriptive to predictive and even prescriptive analytics using IoT technologies such as B&B's Wzzard that applies edge decision making and processes information collected from sensors before transmitting relevant, as opposed to raw data, up to SeeControl’s SaaS remote management platform.

“Cloud-based big data analytics is then better able to derive meaning from the data, and prescribe specific courses of action, to drive more intelligent applications,” said Shastri.

Jerry O’Gorman, CEO of B&B Electronics, explained: “The Wzzard platform’s technologies, protocols and hardware work together to reduce the complexity, expertise and time it takes for integrators to develop scalable IoT solutions.

“We developed Wzzard to facilitate the coming world of connected intelligence, where smart machines and systems will collaborate, inform and make decisions on the intelligence gained from each other with little or no human supervision.

“Humans will program these smart networks, but then they have the ability to run efficiently and autonomously, sometimes for years, until there’s data reported that requires human intervention,” concluded O’Gorman.

Possible applications
•    Flood and water level monitoring
•    Smart car parks; vehicle counting, air quality
•    Smart irrigation systems monitoring soil moisture, environmental conditions, leaks
•    Mechanical condition monitoring/preventative maintenance
•    Energy measurements and audits on a per system or machine basis
•    Data centre environmental monitoring
•    Tank and lift stations
•    Condition monitoring and optimisation in industrial environments
•    Traffic monitoring of over-height vehicles for tunnels and bridges

Platform details can be found here: B&B Smartsensing


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