Device Envy and Diverging Technology
Whew – four weeks into 2011 and I’ve been ripping it up. Ministering to various new product development projects, working with customers on some nice projects and making a bigger effort to turn my back on the petty minutia that threaten productivity with death by a thousand cuts. All of which has interfered with my “sit down and write” time - hence my tardiness with this month’s letter.
Another bugger has been my aging Dell laptop. I fear its best days may be behind it now as each week it discovers a new way to shake my confidence. I wonder if IT would consider getting me a Mac…
In fact, I’m feeling a need for a spending spree in my entire electronic arsenal but my Spidey senses are a tingle with fear that I’m the victim of good marketing and device-envy, while the engineer in me rationalizes that there are a lot of great productivity tools out there that I’ve just gotta have.
I travel a bit, including some long flights. While I’m more interested in being productive than entertained the line between the two is often fuzzy. After my recent travels I think I simply must have one each of the following in my bag:
- Laptop – lightweight with more than 4 hours of battery
- e-reader – loaded with books that I can mark up and weeks of battery life
- Smart phone with minutes and data that I can afford to use regardless of what country I’m in
- Meager smartphone battery life means I need an MP3 player loaded with podcasts, video blogs and my favorite music. Small enough to fit in my pocket for long strolls and those too-seldom early morning workouts when on the road.
- I may not really need it, but I sure want an iPad loaded with all the same stuff as the MP3 – all the cool kids on the plane had one.
There is a frustrating lack of convergence of all those devices (unless you own Apple stock). Interesting isn’t it, that technology is actually driving us further away from convergence, not towards it?
In the world of machine to machine communications life is even messier. Not only are we still reeling from the long-lasting remnants of the fieldbus wars, we’re also right smack in the middle of a large set of wireless protocols all vying for a piece of your budget.
Modbus, DF1, DeviceNet, Profibus, DNP3, BacNet – and many dozens more – not a single one of which can talk to any of the others without significant intervention. Here at B&B we’ve done a nice job of building products to solve Modbus connectivity problems with products like our MESR Modbus Gateway, which can get you out of nearly any Modbus jam. We’ve also got a Swiss army knife of connectivity solutions in the ConnectPro protocol converter – but frankly we haven’t gone far enough to solve your protocol connectivity problems with simple solutions.
Here’s an offer – you tell me what your biggest protocol headache is and I’ll see if we can build something to solve it. Go ahead, share your pain.
Right smack in the middle of its adolescence, Wireless is even more of a challenge as it continuously outgrows its own shoes. You’ve got your heavy hitters – cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth each evolving in their own right. But then you’ve got Zigbee, Wireless HART, and gobs of proprietary protocols built off the 802.15.4 chipsets. If anyone is claiming out and out victory in that low power space - they’re full of it. A recent study reports that 85% of the low power RF market was using a proprietary protocol. If your crystal ball is giving you the answer on whose winning let me know. In the meantime B&B continues to ride proprietary RF bandwagon with our Zlinx wireless I/O line – but in a more friendly fashion than most since our data is all presented as Modbus once it crosses back into the wired domain, flowing easily into most industrial applications.
Are you seeing convergence in your world, or are things messier than ever? Are you ready to place any bets and hitch your wagon to any particular wireless technologies yet?
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