Over the air programming with 802.15.4, ZigBee

New OTA technology from Libelium allows a network to be re-programmed in a couple of minutes by using multihop routing.


Libelium, a technology company specializing in wireless sensor networks, has announced the launch of Libelium OTA, a solution that lays the foundation for over the air programming (OTAP) for wireless sensor networks and the Internet of Things. This brings OTA capabilities for the first time to unlicensed frequency bands (2.4 GHz, 868 MHz, 900 MHz) and to low power communication using protocols such as 802.15.4 and ZigBee.

Over the last decade wireless programming or over the air provisioning (OTA) has been widely used by the mobile phone industry. This capability has allowed software updates to be delivered to mobile phone users and to enable the deployment of new services as they become available. So far, such capabilities have not been available to wireless sensor networks or to the Internet of Things. Such networks, usually consisting of hundreds or thousands of nodes (“motes”), would benefit from an OTA capability.

David Gascón, Libelium’s CTO, said “Motes are often located in places that are either remote or difficult to access. Libelium OTA will enable firmware upgrades to be made over a wireless network without the need of physical access.” He added, “The new OTAP feature, together with battery recharging via a solar panel, will keep the maintenance costs of wireless sensor networks to a minimum allowing the deployment of networks with thousands of nodes.”

Firmware upgrades can be made within minutes and it is possible to choose between updating single nodes (unicast), multiple nodes (multicast) or an entire network (broadcast). OTA can also be used for the recovery of stuck nodes. Furthermore it is possible to find nodes in a particular area by broadcasting a discovery query.

Libelium OTA can work with both direct-access and multihop-access. In the case of 802.15.4 networks, the nodes to be upgraded can be accessed directly by the gateway. With ZigBee, it is usual that a series of nodes must forward packets sent by the gateway to the chosen destination. When performing OTA with direct access the frequency channel used in the 2.4GHz band is changed so no interferences are caused to the rest of the nodes.

The Libelium OTA provides two levels of security: firstly the data transmitted is encrypted using the AES-128 algorithm; secondly a pass key must be authenticated in each node before the OTA process starts.

For wireless sensor networks implemented with Waspmote, programs sent are stored in a 2GB SD card enabling thousands of software versions to be stored and managed on a single mote. The management OTA application runs in Windows, MacOS and Linux and it is freely available for clients of the Waspmote platform.

Libelium is launching a special training course at their headquarters in Zaragoza, Spain, in June for those interested in learning the OTA capabilities quickly.

The first public demonstration of Libelium OTA was June 6-8, 2011, booth #500 at the Sensors Expo & Conference in Rosemont, IL.


Libelium Comunicaciones Distribuidas S.L.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.