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A completely IPv6-based wireless sensor network has been put to a real life test in northern Sweden for over a year. In a private home in the town of Piteå, the heating system has been successfully monitored and controlled using a 6LoWPAN-based wireless network. A service architecture has been enabled by implementation of the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) and EXI compression.

“The challenge has been to use IPv6 in a real life project, to adapt the CoAP protocol with EXI compression to the sensor platform (the Mulle platform), and particularly to make the different parts of the system work together”, says Jonas Gustafsson, PhD and part of the research team at EISLAB led by professor Jerker Delsing. “But after some initial ‘struggle’ it has worked out fine; during runtime we have not encountered any major problems. This project is proof that there is possible to use an IP-based system to monitor and control technical systems such as a heating system, using very resource-limited sensor platforms like the Mulle.”

The wireless heat regulation project was carried out in a private home in Piteå, 30 miles south of Luleå where EISLAB has its home base and where the monitoring was carried out.

For more than a full year, the research team in Luleå has been able to monitor and control all functions related to the hydronic heating system in this house. The district-heating substation was controlled using a close loop control, and the wireless network was able to create a pleasant indoor climate by controlling valves and a circulation pump with adjustable r.p.m. Control computations have been made within the wireless network. In addition to the district-heating substation, also power sockets have been monitored through the wireless network. Control computations have been made within the wireless network.

Proof of concept clears the way for new projects
Jonas Gustafsson says the success with wireless monitoring and control of the house in Piteå constitutes proof of concept, and that this means it is time to move into new projects, even in an industrial environment.

“Now we have proof that monitoring and control of real life systems can be done with wireless sensor networks using technologies such as 6LowPAN, CoAP and EXI, and we are ready to move on to industrial projects. As an example we are talking to LKAB about monitoring of lubrication systems with the same type of sensor network and protocols”, says Jonas Gustafsson.

When moving on to industrial systems, one additional issue is that security aspects will have to be carefully addressed.

More info here.

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