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ON World Predicts 100 Million Smart Building Wireless Sensor Network Devices by 2019

Within the next five years, smart buildings will provide real-time lighting, security and comfort control for its occupants using wireless sensor networks powered by coin batteries, according to recent research by ON World.

Wireless sensor networks are becoming essential for smart building systems.

Continuous advances with wireless sensor network (WSN) technologies will enable sentient buildings within the next decade, according to a recently-published report by ON World, a global technology research firm.

“Wireless sensor networks are becoming essential for smart building systems,” says Mareca Hatler ON World’s research director. “Technology advances for WSN components such as radio sensitivity, ultra-low power consumption and energy harvesting have accelerated adoption in commercial buildings.”

Self-powered wireless sensors that use harvested energy have eliminated one of the remaining challenges for WSN: Avoiding the labor cost and environmental waste of replacing thousands of batteries. Although EnOcean has a significant market lead for wireless energy harvesters, ZigBee Green Power is an emerging threat with radios that consume 100 times less power than other ZigBee PRO radios.

A growing trend is building-wide wireless energy management systems that integrate with a smart building’s lighting infrastructure. Many of these systems support hundreds of WSN nodes per gateway and some have localized intelligence with software and integrated sensors embedded in every fixture. A few of the current vendors include Acuity, Convergence Wireless, Daintree, Digital Lumens, Enlighted and Laserlight.

A vision of the Internet of Things is a world where devices and sensors communicate in real time and make autonomous decisions. Smart buildings would know when offices were entered and exited, providing lights, comfort, security and energy just in time. To make this a reality, smart building sensing devices need to be wireless, pervasive, extremely low power, have small footprints and require little or no labor to keep them working. By 2018, ON World projects that WSN radios will have two times the network range, energy harvesters will be four times smaller and wireless sensors will be capable of being powered with a coin cell battery.

ON World’s survey of 111 WSN developers found that approximately half of these (47) target non-residential building automation. More than three-quarters of the building WSN developers are providing solutions for energy/HVAC and lighting. One in 5 have WSNs with >1,000 nodes and 9% have deployed networks with at least 20,000 nodes.

In ON World’s survey, ZigBee PRO and WiFi are the most commonly used or planned WSN technologies by building WSN developers, followed by EnOcean, 6LoWPAN, 802.15.4 and proprietary. Over half of the building WSN developers indicate that 40% or more of their deployed WSN nodes are autonomously powered (e.g. batteries or energy harvesting). Seventeen percent indicate that they use harvested energy to power over 40% of their WSN devices.

By 2019, cumulative WSN device shipments in non-residential buildings will reach 100 million, an increase of over 1100% from 2011.

ON World’s report, “Smart Building Wireless Sensor Networks” is based on phone interviews and online surveys with over 250 individuals including facility/property managers, professional installers, equipment manufacturers, software developers and component suppliers. It covers the global WSN market for non-residential buildings including six application areas (lighting, HVAC, security/safety, metering, environmental monitoring and guest controls) in ten market segments.

Forecasts are for WSN equipment and services in each market as well as by geography and technology. Technologies included are ZigBee, 802.15.4, WiFi, EnOcean, Z-Wave, 6LoWPAN and several proprietary variants. The report also analyses 100 companies and presents the results from two surveys as well as test results on the power and performance of several WSN technologies.
The report synopsis and a free executive summary is available from

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