US20200336925A1 - System, Method and Apparatus for Managing Disruption in a Sensor Network Application - Google Patents

System, Method and Apparatus for Managing Disruption in a Sensor Network Application Download PDF

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US20200336925A1
US20200336925A1 US16/867,661 US202016867661A US2020336925A1 US 20200336925 A1 US20200336925 A1 US 20200336925A1 US 202016867661 A US202016867661 A US 202016867661A US 2020336925 A1 US2020336925 A1 US 2020336925A1
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sensor
network node
data
communication protocol
requests
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US16/867,661
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Julien G. Stamatakis
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Senseware Inc
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Senseware Inc
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Priority to US201461992307P priority Critical
Priority to US201562136959P priority
Priority to US14/710,170 priority patent/US9551594B1/en
Priority to US14/871,014 priority patent/US9876653B1/en
Priority to US14/926,089 priority patent/US10652767B1/en
Application filed by Senseware Inc filed Critical Senseware Inc
Priority to US16/867,661 priority patent/US20200336925A1/en
Assigned to Senseware, Inc. reassignment Senseware, Inc. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: STAMATAKIS, JULIEN G.
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W24/00Supervisory, monitoring or testing arrangements
    • H04W24/04Arrangements for maintaining operational condition
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W24/00Supervisory, monitoring or testing arrangements
    • H04W24/10Scheduling measurement reports ; Arrangements for measurement reports
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W84/00Network topologies
    • H04W84/18Self-organising networks, e.g. ad-hoc networks or sensor networks

Abstract

A system, method and apparatus for managing disruption in a sensor network application. Nodes in the sensor network can include a storage memory to store collected data during disruptions that impact communication in the sensor network. The sensor network can be configured to continue to collect sensor data during the communication disruptions.

Description

  • This application is a continuation of non-provisional application Ser. No. 14/926,089, filed Oct. 29, 2015, which is a continuation-in-part of non-provisional application Ser. No. 14/871,014, filed Sep. 30, 2015, which is a continuation-in-part of non-provisional application Ser. No. 14/710,170, filed May 12, 2015. Non-provisional application Ser. No. 14/710,170 claims the benefit of and priority to provisional application No. 61/992,307, filed May 13, 2014, and to provisional application No. 62/136,959, filed Mar. 23, 2015. Each of the above-identified applications is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND Field
  • The present disclosure relates generally to sensor applications, including a system, method and apparatus for managing disruption in a sensor network application.
  • Introduction
  • Sensors can be used to monitor various conditions at a monitored location such as a building. In one example, sensors can be used to monitor physical environment conditions such as temperature, humidity, and air quality. In another example, sensors can be used to monitor physical environment conditions such as consumption of a particular utility (e.g., power). The application of sensors within the building context is growing as the utility provided by such monitoring expands.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • In order to describe the manner in which the above-recited and other advantages and features can be obtained, a more particular description will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments and are not therefore to be considered limiting of its scope, the disclosure describes and explains with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 illustrates an example embodiment of integrating sensors with a control system.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates an example embodiment of a node in a sensor network.
  • FIG. 3 illustrates an example embodiment of a bridge unit.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates an example embodiment of a bridge unit interfacing with an external controller.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates an example embodiment of a sensor network node physically attached to a set of bridge units.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates an example embodiment of a housing of a sensor network node that exposes connector interfaces.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates an example embodiment of a housing of a bridge unit.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates an example embodiment of a gateway.
  • FIG. 9 illustrates an overview of an example configuration of a sensor network platform for the collection of data.
  • FIG. 10 illustrates an example embodiment of an interaction by a network node device interfacing with an external controller.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates an example embodiment of a bridge unit interfacing with a control system.
  • FIG. 12 illustrates an overview of an example configuration of a sensor network platform for the presentation of data.
  • FIG. 13 illustrates an example embodiment of an interaction by a network node device interfacing with a control system.
  • FIG. 14 provides an example illustration of an operation of a sensor network that collects sensor data and presents sensor information to a control system.
  • FIG. 15 provides an example illustration of an operation of a sensor network that receives control data from a control system and presents control information to an actuator device.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Various embodiments are discussed in detail below. While specific implementations are discussed, it should be understood that this is done for illustration purposes only. A person skilled in the relevant art will recognize that other components and configurations may be used without parting from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure.
  • A Building Management System (BMS) is an example of a computer-based control system installed in a building. In general, a computer-based control system can monitor and control some aspect of a building's functionality. A BMS, for example, can be designed to monitor and control the building's mechanical and electrical equipment such as ventilation, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems. Other examples of computer-based control systems installed in a building include a Building Automation System (BAS), a Facility Management Systems (FMS), an Energy Management Systems (EMS), a Maintenance Management System (MMS), or any other control system installed in a building that can leverage input information based on sensor measurements.
  • A building control system such as a BMS is a combination of hardware and software and is typically proprietary. For example, a BMS can be installed during the building construction phase as it is tied in with the installation of extensive mechanical, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems. Due in part to its scale of operation, the BMS is often rigidly configured or incomplete in its reach. This results because the BMS may not be installed with the sufficient level of granularity to enable fine-tuning of its operation to meet the particular needs of a building site. Further problematic is the prohibitive expense of adjusting or modifying the proprietary BMS. In general, the BMS can be inflexible in adapting to the dynamic nature of the on-site needs as the building usage evolves over time. This can be especially true when considering the need for increasing the number of sensors at a building site to give the BMS additional information to implement control measures with greater accuracy and effectiveness.
  • In the present disclosure, it is recognized that a sensor network platform can be used to augment the functionality of a building control system at a monitored location. In one example system, a gateway device is installed at a monitored location with a network connection with an operation center located external to the monitored location. The gateway device can communicate with a plurality of sensor network nodes, wherein each sensor network node can support one or more sensors.
  • In general, a monitored location can represent any area where one or more sensors are deployed. The monitored location may or may not represent a physical area having clearly defined boundaries. As would be appreciated, the extent of the sensor application itself provides a sense of boundary to the monitored location. In one example, the monitored location can represent a building such as a home, hotel, industrial facility, school, hospital, community building, stadium, airport, convention center, warehouse, office building, mall, shopping center, data center, multi-dwelling unit, or other defined building structure. In another example, the monitored location can represent an area of control such as a vehicle or container in any mode of transport, an asset collection area, a construction zone, or any monitored area that can be fixed or movable. In yet another example, the monitored location can represent an area proximate to an article, device, person or other item of interest upon which one or more sensors are attached.
  • The reach of a control system can be incomplete because a plurality of sensors may not yet be integrated with the control system. This lack of integration can result from the inflexibility of the control system in adapting to the changing sensor application needs at the monitored location. In the example of a BMS, the changing sensor application needs can represent the addition of new sensors in a building that respond to new government regulations, that respond to sensor needs in new locations, that respond to new tenant requirements, that incorporate new sensor technology, that incorporate new sensor interfaces, or that achieves any new sensor objective that is beyond the scope of the BMS as initially installed or currently operated. As noted, BMS installations can be inflexible and require significant expense to modify or otherwise adjust its operation. This significant expense will often preclude the integration of sensors with the BMS, thereby reducing the overall return on the original investment in the BMS.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates an example embodiment of integrating sensors with control system 111. A sensor network platform can be configured to collect data based on measurements from non-integrated sensors, and to present information based on the collected data to a known interface supported by control system 111. In one embodiment, the sensor network platform can include a plurality of sensor network nodes 122 1-122 N, which can support the non-integrated sensors.
  • A sensor network nodes 122 n can communicate with gateway 121 via wired or wireless communication. In turn, gateway 121 can communicate with operation center 130 via a network connection. This network connection can be embodied in various forms depending upon the particular characteristics of monitored location 100. For example, where monitored location 100 is a building in a developed area, then the network connection can be facilitated by a wired Internet connection via an Internet service provider (ISP). Where monitored location 100 is a remote physical area (or movable area), then the network connection can be facilitated by a terrestrial-based or satellite-based wireless network. Here, it should be noted that multiple gateways can be used at a particular monitored location, wherein each gateway supports a different set of sensors and has a separate network connection to an operation center.
  • To illustrate the various ways that a sensor network node can support one or more sensors, consider the example of sensor network node 122 1. First, one or more sensors (S) can be integrated with sensor network node 122 1. Second, one or more sensors can be supported by bridge unit (BU) 140, which can be configured for attachment to sensor network node 122 1. Third, one or more sensors can be supported by bridge unit 150, which communicates with an external controller 160 that supports one or more sensors 170. In one embodiment, communication between bridge unit 150 and external controller 160 can be based on an industry-defined protocol. For example, the interface can be based on Modbus, BACnet, LonWorks, or any other industry-defined interface specification.
  • Whether from internal sensors or from sensors supported by one or more bridge units attached to a sensor network node, data based on sensor measurements can be collected by a sensor network node and transmitted to an operation center for storage in a database. As an example, sensor network node 122 1 can collect data based on measurements by sensors integrated with sensor network node 122 1, can collect data based on measurements by sensors supported by bridge unit 140, and can collect data based on measurements by sensors supported by bridge unit 150. The collected data based on measurements by these various sensors can be transmitted to operation center 130 via gateway 121. Operation center 130 can then store the collected data in a database.
  • The data collected by sensor network node 122 1 can represent sensor data that has not been integrated with control system 111. Operation center 130 can be configured to process the collected sensor data to produce customized sensor information for presentation to a known interface supported by control system 111. In general, the customized sensor information can be designed to produce actionable information for use by control system 111.
  • In one example, the customized information can represent sensor measurement data that has been conditioned for use by control system 111. In one scenario, operation center 130 can smooth a stream of sensor data by presenting a moving average of sensor data. The smoothed or otherwise conditioned data can prevent control system 111 from performing unwarranted response actions upon the occurrence of spurious sensor data readings.
  • In another example, operation center 130 can be configured to transform multiple sensor data values into a transformed data value. In one scenario, operation center 130 can generate a power measurement data value based on a voltage measurement data value and a current measurement data value. Here, it should be noted that operation center 130 can be configured to perform complex conversion functions that may not be supported by a device that performed the sensor measurements.
  • In yet another example, operation center 130 can be configured to transform multiple sensor data values into information reflective of custom analytics. In a simple scenario, operation center 130 can be configured to analyze collected sensor data relative to a threshold value. This alert function can be applied to a single stream of collected data. In a more complex scenario, an alert function can be defined that analyzes a composite of multiple data values. For example, the alert function can analyze a moving average, a rate of change, or any factor inclusive of multiple data values to determine whether an alert should be triggered. In one scenario, the custom analytics can be configured to monitor the operation of equipment at a monitored location to determine whether a maintenance action should be scheduled. As would be appreciated, these examples are not intended to be limiting of the scope of the present disclosure. In general, the particular form of the alert function would be implementation dependent. Operation center 130 can be configured to process collected data to produce any form or type of information needed by control system 111. Thus, the particular processing performed by operation center 130 would be dependent on the needs and capabilities of control system 111 and the sensor application implemented.
  • The processing of collected sensor data can produce customized sensor information for presentation to control system 111. The customized sensor information can be transmitted by operation center 130 to gateway 121. Gateway 121 can then forward the customized sensor information to sensor network node 122 2 via the sensor network node communication infrastructure. Sensor network node 122 2 can be configured to interface with control system 111 via bridge unit 180 to present the customized information to control system 111 through a supporting interface controller 190 (e.g., Modbus) for control system 111.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates an example embodiment of a sensor network node that can provide varied support for one or more sensors. As illustrated, sensor network node 200 includes transceiver 220, which can support wired or wireless communication. The use of wireless communication enables sensor network node 200 to be installed at locations that are remote from the network infrastructure used by the control system. In one embodiment, a plurality of sensor network nodes can form a wireless mesh network using the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol. This wireless mesh network enables sensor network node 200 to communicate with a gateway or another sensor network node that operates as a relay between sensor network node 200 and the gateway. Where wired communication is supported, sensor network node 200 can be configured to communicate with another sensor network node, a gateway or an operation center.
  • Controller 210 can collect data based on measurements by a plurality of sensors 240 1-240 N that are contained within or otherwise supported by a housing of sensor network node 200. In one embodiment, the plurality of sensors 240 1-240 N integrated with sensor network node 200 can include a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, an air quality (e.g., CO2) sensor, a light sensor, a sound sensor, or any other sensor that can be supported by a housing of sensor network node 200. In general, the plurality of sensors 240 1-240 N can facilitate monitoring of the physical environment at that part of the monitored location, including the health and/or status of sensor network node 200.
  • A sensor network node can also collect sensor measurements from one or more sensors via bridge units. As illustrated in FIG. 2, controller 210 can collect data from a set of bridge units that are connected to sensor network node 200 via one or more of a plurality of universal sensor interfaces 230 1-230 N. Each universal sensor interface 230 n can support the connection of sensor network node 200 with a separate bridge unit. The plug-and-play universal sensor interface facilitates the separation of the sensor network node communication infrastructure from the set of one or more bridge units that are deployed at the location at which the supporting sensor network node is installed. This separation creates significant flexibility in providing customized sensor application solutions after installation of the control system.
  • A universal sensor interfaces 230 n can represent a combination of hardware and software. The hardware portion of a universal sensor interfaces 230 n can include a wired interface that enables communication of different signals between sensor network node 200 and a connected bridge unit. In one example, the wired interface can be enabled through a connector interface, which is exposed by the housing of sensor network node 200, and that is configured to receive a bridge unit connector via removable, pluggable insertion.
  • In one embodiment, the wired interface can be based on a Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) bus. In one example, the wired interface enables six connections: supply, ground, data in, data out, clock, and device select. The device select connection can be unique to each wired interface and can enable controller 210 in sensor network node 200 to select the particular bridge unit with which sensor network node 200 desires to communicate.
  • The software portion of a universal sensor interface 230 n can include a protocol that allows sensor network node 200 to communicate with a bridge unit. In one example protocol, controller 210 can be configured to poll the various universal sensor interfaces 230 1-230 N to determine whether any bridge units are connected. As part of this protocol, controller 210 can first request a sensor ID from a bridge unit. If the response read is “0”, then controller 210 would know that no bridge unit is connected to that universal sensor interface 230 n. If, on the other hand, the response read is not “0”, then controller 210 would ask for the number of data values that have to be retrieved and the number of bits on which the data values are coded. In one example, the higher order 8-bits of a 16-bit communication between controller 210 and a bridge unit identifies the number of data values, while the lower order 8-bits of the 16-bit communication identifies the number of bits used to code each data value. Based on the number of data values to be retrieved, controller 210 would then collect that number of data values.
  • FIG. 3 illustrates an example embodiment of a bridge unit configured for attachment to a sensor network node, an example of which was described with reference to FIG. 2. As illustrated, bridge unit 300 includes controller 310, which communicates over a universal sensor interface with a supporting sensor network node. In one embodiment, bridge unit 300 supports the universal sensor interface with a connector 320 configured for pluggable, removable insertion into a corresponding connector interface exposed by the supporting sensor network node. In another embodiment, the bridge unit can be coupled to the connector interface exposed by the supporting sensor network node via a connector attached to a cable.
  • Bridge unit 300 can support a plurality of sensors 330 1-330 N such as a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, an air quality (e.g., CO2) sensor, a light sensor, a sound sensor, an accelerometer sensor, a pulse sensor, a current sensor, a voltage sensor, or any other sensor that can be incorporated in bridge unit 300. Additionally, one or more of the plurality of sensors 330 1-330 N can generate sensor data based on inputs received from an external sensor element. For example, a pulse sensor in bridge unit 300 can be configured to receive pulse signal inputs from an external sensor element and can translate the pulse signal inputs into sensor data. As would be appreciated, one or more of the plurality of sensors 330 1-330 N can be configured to operate on any type of input signals generated by an external sensor element. In various examples, the signal inputs can be generated by external sensor elements that support an occupancy sensor application, a radiation sensor application, a contact sensor application, a flow sensor application, a resource consumption application, a credential sensor application, or any other type of sensor application configured to measure a characteristic associated with a physical environment of a part of the monitored location.
  • Bridge unit 300 can also support one or more sensors via an interface of the bridge unit with an external controller. Referring back to the example illustration of FIG. 1, this scenario is illustrated by bridge unit 150 interfacing with external controller 160, which supports one or more sensors 170. As noted, the interface between bridge unit 150 and controller 160 can be based on an industry-defined protocol such as Modbus, BACnet, LonWorks, or any other industry-defined interface specification. It should also be noted that external controller 160 can be integrated with one or more sensors and/or can support the one or more sensor via a further interface.
  • With reference to the example embodiment of FIG. 3, bridge unit 300 can include interface section 340 to support the interface with an external controller. Interface section 340 can include an interface controller 341 that can be configured to communicate with a corresponding external controller that provides support for one or more sensors. For example, interface section 340 can be configured to communicate with an energy-monitoring meter having voltage and current sensors that can be used to determine energy-related data such as kWh, kW peak demand, power factor per phase, amps per phase and volts per phase. In this example, interface controller 341 can read data from the energy-monitoring meter using the industry-defined interface. In one scenario, the read data can include a plurality of sensor information 342 1-342 N as well as one or more elements of additional information 343. As would be appreciated, the one or more elements of additional information 343 can relate to the interface, one or more sensors, the meter, the application, or any information relevant to the resulting connection of the meter to the bridge unit. In one embodiment, the functionality performed by interface controller 341 can be performed by controller 310. As such, bridge unit can include a single controller to support the interface with a supporting sensor network node and the interface with the external controller.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates an example embodiment of a bridge unit interfacing with a Modbus device that supports one or more sensors. As would be appreciated, BACnet, LonWorks, or any other industry-defined interface can also be used between the bridge unit and an external controller.
  • In general, the Modbus protocol defines a message structure and format used in communication transactions. Modbus devices can communicate using a master-slave method, in which only the master device can initiate a communications transaction with a slave device. A Modbus slave device can hold accessible data in addressable registers. A Modbus slave can contain one or more of four groups of data, including Coil status, Input status, Input registers and Holding registers. A Coil status is a single-bit flag that can represent the status of a digital output of the slave, an Input status is a single-bit flag that can represent the status of a digital input of the slave, an Input register is a 16-bit register that can store data collected by the slave device, and a Holding register is a 16-bit register that can store general-purpose data in the slave device. The various status and registers can be accessed through a specification of a data address (and range) of interest. A Modbus message can include a device address, function code (e.g., read/write Holding register), and the data address or range of addresses.
  • As illustrated, bridge unit 410 includes controller 411, an example of which was described with reference to controller 310 in FIG. 3, and Modbus controller 412 operating in a master mode. Modbus controller 412 can be configured to interface with Modbus controller 431 operating in a slave mode in Modbus device 430. As illustrated, Modbus device 430 can include one or more sensors 432. Here, it should be noted that the interface can be a serial interface or can be an interface enabled by a TCP/IP network.
  • In communicating with Modbus controller 431 to collect data based on measurements by one or more sensors 432, Modbus controller 412 in bridge unit 410 can be configured based on configuration settings stored in a database of the operation center. In one embodiment, the configuration settings for Modbus controller 412 in bridge unit 410 can be stored in accordance with an identifier based on a gateway identifier, a sensor network node identifier, and a port identifier, wherein the port identifier references a particular connector interface of the sensor network node to which bridge unit 410 is connected. In one example, the configuration settings can include the baud rate, the endianness, a device address of the slave device, function codes (e.g., read/write), and the particular data address (or range of addresses) that are relevant to the function codes. In one embodiment, the configuration settings can be generated based on inputs provided by a user through a user interface supported by the operation center.
  • Based on the configuration settings stored in the database, the operation center can generate configuration packets for transmission to the supporting sensor network node via the gateway. The configuration packets can be used by the supporting sensor network node to configure the operation of the Modbus controller in the bridge unit attached to the particular port of the supporting sensor network node. For example, the configuration packets can be used to configure the Modbus controller in the bridge unit to read data from a particular address (or range of addresses). In one embodiment, the rate (e.g., every X seconds) at which the Modbus controller would transmit the read requests can be controlled by the data request interval established for the supporting sensor network node. As has been described, the configuration settings can be used to effect a remote configuration of the interface between Modbus controller 412 in bridge unit 410 and Modbus controller 431 in Modbus device 430.
  • In one embodiment, the operation center can also generate action packets that enable one-off requests by a Modbus controller in a bridge unit. For example, the one-off request can relate to a read of a particular address (or range of addresses) to effect some form of verification, or can relate to a write of a particular address (or range of addresses) to effect some form of control. In one embodiment, the event-based action packet can be initiated by user interaction with a user interface supported by the operation center. In another embodiment, the event-based action packet can be initiated in response to analytics performed on data collected by the operation center from one or more sensor network nodes. For example, the action packet can be used to effect a response action at a monitored location. As would be appreciated, the event-based action packet can be initiated in response to any event and can control a Modbus controller in any bridge unit to transmit a particular request over the Modbus interface.
  • As has been described, a bridge unit can collect sensor-related data from a plurality of sensors in a variety of ways. Regardless of the mechanism of collection of data from supported sensors, the bridge unit can provide the collected data to a sensor network node via a universal interface. FIG. 5 illustrates an example data flow between a sensor network node and a plurality of bridge units. As illustrated, sensor network node 500 interfaces with a plurality of bridge units, including bridge unit 520 1, bridge unit 520 2, . . . , and bridge unit 520 N. Connectors of bridge unit 520 1, bridge unit 520 2, . . . , and bridge unit 520 N are each physically attached to separate connector interfaces exposed by the housing of sensor network node 500.
  • The attachment of bridge unit 520 1 to sensor network node 500 enables communication of data between controller 521 1 and controller 510, the attachment of bridge unit 520 2 to sensor network node 500 enables communication of data between controller 521 2 and controller 510, . . . , and the attachment of bridge unit 520 N to sensor network node 500 enables communication of data between controller 521 N and controller 510. By these attachments, each of bridge units 520 1, 520 2, . . . , and 520 N can be coupled to sensor network node 500 via a universal sensor interface having the connectivity characteristics described above.
  • The plug-and-play nature of the connection of bridge units to a supporting sensor network node facilitates a modular framework for the collection of sensor data at a monitored location. FIG. 6 illustrates an example embodiment of a housing of a sensor network node such as the example illustration of sensor network node 200 in FIG. 2. As illustrated, sensor network node 600 can have a housing configured to expose a plurality of connector interfaces 610. Each of the plurality of connector interfaces 610 can support the physical attachment of a single bridge unit. In the example illustration, each side of the housing of sensor network node 600 exposes a single connector interface 610. The housing of the sensor network node can be substantially larger than the housing of the bridge unit. This can result, for example, because sensor network node 600 can be designed with additional components such as an internal power source (e.g., battery) that can involve additional volume requirements as compared to the bridge units. It is therefore recognized that one embodiment of a sensor network node can have multiple bridge units physically attached to a single side of the sensor network node.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates an example embodiment of a housing of a bridge unit such as the example illustration of bridge unit 300 in FIG. 3. As illustrated, bridge unit 700 can have a housing configured to expose a connector 710. Connector 710 can be configured for pluggable, removable insertion into a corresponding connector interface 610 exposed by the housing of sensor network node 600. The connection of bridge unit 700 to sensor network node 600 via the insertion of connector 710 into connector interface 610 produces a true plug-and-play framework for the deployment of a sensor network at a monitored location.
  • Sensor network nodes can be rapidly deployed throughout a monitored location to facilitate the collection of sensor data for presentation to a control system. One of the challenges of operating a sensor network is ensuring sensor data retention when disruptions in the sensor network occur. As described above with reference to FIG. 2, data collected by controller 210 based on measurements by one or more sensors supported by sensor network node 200 can be transmitted back to the gateway via the sensor network node communication infrastructure using transceiver 220. In one embodiment, sensor network node 200 includes storage memory 250 (e.g., SRAM) that can be used to backup collected sensor data when the data memory capacity of controller 210 is exceeded. In one scenario, this can occur when communication through the sensor network node communication infrastructure has been disrupted. For example, the gateway, or other sensor network node that operates as a relay, can malfunction, have poor link quality, or otherwise have diminished capacity that prevents effective operation as part of the sensor network node communication infrastructure. In one embodiment, sensor network node 200 can also include a backup battery (not shown) that enables sensor network node 200 to continue to function should wall power be disrupted due to a power outage, unplugged event, or other event that affects an external power supply for sensor network node 200. It should be noted that sensor network node 200 can also be configured to operate primarily using a battery.
  • In one embodiment, controller 210 can be configured to detect when communication via the sensor network node communication infrastructure has been disrupted (e.g., loss of signal, poor link quality, or other loss of connectivity indicator), and to write collected sensor data to storage memory 250 for backup storage. In one embodiment, storage memory 250 can be sized such that sensor network node 200 can continue to backup collected sensor data for a defined period of time (e.g., one day) that can cover reasonable expectations of potential vulnerabilities and recovery scenarios of the sensor network node communication infrastructure.
  • The backup of collected sensor data to storage memory 250 during a disruption of the sensor network node communication infrastructure ensures that all collected sensor data is retained. Loss of collected sensor data is thereby prevented. The data retention afforded by storage memory 250 can be critical to ensuring that the monitoring application can perform its analytics on a complete set of collected sensor data.
  • In one embodiment, the collected sensor data is stored along with timestamp information. As would be appreciated, the timestamp information can relate to a time the sensor data was generated, a time the sensor information was received at sensor network node 200, or any other time associated with the flow of sensor data to network sensor network node 200.
  • The gateway at the monitored location can also be configured to operate similarly to the sensor network node with respect to data retention. FIG. 8 illustrates an example embodiment of a gateway. As illustrated, gateway 800 includes controller 810, transceiver 820 1 that supports a network connection with the operation center, and transceiver 820 2 that supports communication with the sensor network node communication infrastructure. In a manner similar to a sensor network node, gateway 800 can also collect data based on measurements by a plurality of sensors 840 1-840 N that are contained within or otherwise supported by a housing of gateway 800. Gateway 800 can also collect data from a bridge unit that is connected to gateway 800 via universal sensor interface 830. In one embodiment, gateway 800 includes a single universal sensor interface 830 for limited expandability as compared to sensor network nodes.
  • In one embodiment, gateway 800 includes storage memory 850 (e.g., SD Card) that can be used to backup collected sensor data when the data memory capacity of controller 810 is exceeded. In one scenario, this can occur when communication through the network connection has been disrupted. In one embodiment, gateway 800 can also include a backup battery (not shown) that enables gateway 800 to continue to function should wall power be disrupted due to a power outage, unplugged event, or other event that affects an external power supply for gateway 800.
  • In one embodiment, controller 810 can be configured to detect when network communication with the operation center has been disrupted, and to write collected sensor data to storage memory 850 for backup storage. In one embodiment, storage memory 850 can be sized such that gateway 800 can continue to backup collected sensor data for a defined period of time (e.g., one week) that can cover reasonable expectations of potential vulnerabilities and recovery scenarios of the network connection.
  • The backup of collected sensor data to storage memory 850 during a disruption of the network connection ensures that all collected sensor data from the supported sensor network nodes at the monitored location is retained. Loss of collected sensor data is thereby prevented. The data retention afforded by storage memory 850 can be critical to ensuring that the monitoring application can perform its analytics on a complete set of collected sensor data. In a manner similar to the sensor network node, the collected sensor data can be stored at the gateway along with timestamp information. As would be appreciated, the timestamp information can relate to a time the sensor data was generated, a time the sensor information was received at the sensor network node, a time the sensor information was received at gateway 800, or any other time associated with the flow of sensor data to gateway 800.
  • As noted, the sensor network platform of the present disclosure can be used to augment the functionality of a control system at a monitored location. FIG. 9 illustrates an overview of an example configuration of a sensor network platform for the collection of sensor data. In this illustration, assume that device 960 supports a communication interface based on an industry-defined protocol such as Modbus, BACnet, LonWorks, or any other industry-defined interface specification. In various embodiments, device 960 can incorporate one or more sensors directly or can be connected to further devices that incorporate one or more sensors. Regardless of the particular mechanism of supporting one or more sensors, device 960 can be configured to provide a controller function that enables an interface to the one or more sensors. An example of such a controller function was illustrated by external controller 160 in the context of the high-level overview of FIG. 1.
  • Device 960 can be installed at a location remote from the control system and may not be easily connected to the control system. The sensor network platform, which includes gateway device 921, sensor network node 922, and bridge unit 940, can provide a mechanism for establishing communication between operation center 930 and monitoring device 960. While the example embodiment described above includes a bridge unit physically attached to a sensor network node via a plug-and-play universal interface, such an example is not intended to be limiting. In another embodiment, the functionally of a bridge unit and a sensor network node can be incorporated into an integrated network node device.
  • Bridge unit 940 can be designed to support the particular communication interface supported by device 960. Requests generated by bridge unit 940 to collect particular sensor data from device 960 and/or to present particular control information to device 960 can be remotely configured. Both the collection of particular sensor data and the presentation of particular control information is performed by bridge unit 940 on behalf of operation center 930. In this embodiment, operation center 930 would not directly interact with device 960 to collect particular sensor data and/or to present particular control information. In this framework, bridge unit 940 can continue to collect particular sensor data from monitoring device 960 and/or to present particular control information to monitoring device 960 when communication between operation center 930 and network node 922 has been disrupted.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 9, configuration information can be transmitted from operation center 930 to gateway 921 via the network connection, then can be transmitted from gateway 921 to network node 922 via the sensor network node communication infrastructure. In one embodiment, the configuration information is based on configuration settings that are stored in a database of operation center 930.
  • The configuration information received by sensor network node 922 can be used to configure the requests to be transmitted by bridge unit 940 to device 960. Where the request relates to the collection of particular sensor data, device 960 would return a response back to bridge unit 940 that includes the requested sensor data. The sensor data can then be transmitted by sensor network node 922 to operation center 930 via gateway 921. Where the request relates to the presentation of particular control information, device 960 would generate one or more control actions based on the control information contained within the request.
  • Having described a general framework for the configuration of requests in a sensor network node, a detailed description of an example interaction by a network node device with an external controller is now provided with reference to FIG. 10. In this example embodiment, network node device 1090 can represent the functionality produced by the combination of a sensor network node and a bridge unit. As noted above, network node device 1090 can be implemented as two separate devices that are physically attached, or can represent a single integrated device.
  • Network node device 1090 can be configured using configuration packets that are transmitted to network node device 1090. In general, configuration packets can be used to configure the operation of network node device 1090 in initiating periodic communication transactions with device 1060. In one example, the one or more configuration packets can be used to establish a plurality of collection request definitions (CR1-CRN), wherein a particular collection request definition (CRn) includes information that enables network node device to form a collection request for transmission to device 1060. In the example of a Modbus interface, the information can include the baud rate, the endianness, a device address of device 1060, a function code (e.g., read/write), an address (or range of addresses) in request map 1062 of device 1060, and any other configuration information relevant to executing a Modbus collection request. As would be appreciated, the particular configuration information needed to initiate a collection request transaction would be dependent on the particular interface supported between the network node device and the external device.
  • In one embodiment, the configuration packets can also be used to specify a request interval for initiation of one or more collection requests based on one or more stored collection request definitions (CR1-CRN). The specified request interval can identify a length of time between the transmission of collection requests based on a particular collection request definition CRn. For example, a request interval can be specified such that collection requests based on the same collection request definition CRn are transmitted every X minutes. This framework can be useful where sensor data based on measurements by one or more sensors supported by device 1060 are needed every X minutes.
  • As would be appreciated, a request interval can be defined for application to a single collection request or can be defined for application to a group of collection requests. The particular request interval chosen would be dependent on the particular sensor application needs. In one example, a first request interval can be defined for a first set of one or more collection requests used to obtain first sensor data based on measurements by a first set of one or more sensors, while a second request interval can be defined for a second set of one or more collection requests used to obtain second sensor data based on measurements by a second set of one or more sensors. In general, a plurality of request intervals can be defined that enables a customized level of resolution granularity for different sets of sensor data based on measurements by one or more sensors.
  • In an example embodiment where the network node device is a combined device produced through the attachment of a bridge unit to a sensor network node, the collection request definitions (CR1-CRN) can be stored in the bridge unit, while the request interval(s) can be stored in the sensor network node. In this example, the sensor network node can generate a control signal when a new request is needed. The control signal would then be used to trigger the generation of a collection request based on a collection request definition CRn stored in the bridge unit. As would be appreciated, the particular form of the control signal would be implementation dependent. For example, where the bridge unit is in a sleep state between requests, the control signal can include a signal (e.g., pulling a pin HI) that can wake up the bridge unit. In another example, the control signal can also include information that enables identification, by the bridge unit, of the particular collection requests that should be generated for that particular request interval. This further specification of a subset of the collection requests for execution in a request interval would be needed if multiple request intervals have been defined. In one embodiment, the bridge unit can also be configured to send a message to the sensor network node that the bridge unit has sensor data to be delivered to the sensor network node.
  • The transmission of a collection request based on a stored collection request definition CRn is designed to retrieve desired sensor data from device 1060. In a Modbus interface example, the collection request can include a read function code and a single address (or range of addresses) that is mapped to the desired sensor data. For example, device 1060 can store power information (e.g., kWh) at a particular register address as defined by request map 1062.
  • Device 1060 can respond to a collection request by retrieving the sensor data stored at the address (or range of addresses) of request map 1062 and returning the retrieved sensor data back to network node device 1090. Each collection request based on a stored collection request definition CRn can be designed to retrieve corresponding sensor data SDn from request map 1062 and to return the retrieved sensor data SDn back to network node device 1090. As illustrated in FIG. 10, sensor data SDnx is returned in response to the request based on the stored collection request definition CRn, where “x” represents the request interval. Thus, sensor data SDn1 is returned in response to the collection request based on the stored collection request definition CRn in the 1st request interval, sensor data SDn2 is returned in response to the collection request based on stored collection request definition CRn in the 2nd request interval, . . . , and sensor data SDnM is returned in response to the collection request based on the stored collection request definition CRn in the Mth request interval.
  • Where multiple collection requests based on multiple stored collection request definitions (CR1-CRN) are transmitted in a single request interval, then sensor data (SD11-SDN1) is returned in response to the multiple collection requests based on multiple stored collection request definitions (CR1-CRN) in the 1st request interval, sensor data (SD12-SDN2) is returned in response to the multiple collection requests based on multiple stored collection request definitions (CR1-CRN) in the 2nd request interval, . . . , and sensor data (SD1M-SDNM) is returned in response to the multiple collection requests based on multiple stored collection request definitions (CR1-CRN) in the Mth request interval.
  • The sensor data received by network node device 1090 from device 1060 can be transmitted to the gateway device as the sensor data is received. Batch transmission of the sensor data from network node device 1090 to the gateway device is not necessarily implied based on the illustration of FIG. 10. Batch transmission of the sensor data can be used where the immediacy of the receipt of the sensor data by an operation center is neither necessary nor practical at that point in time.
  • In one example, network node device 1090 can store sensor data (SD11-SDN1) . . . (SD1M-SDNM) collected over M request intervals in a backup memory of network node device 1090 when it is determined that communication over the network node communication infrastructure has been disrupted. The storage of sensor data in the backup memory of network node device 1090 would continue until the disruption in the network node communication infrastructure has been cleared. After the disruption is cleared, batch transmission of the sensor information stored in the backup memory of network node device 1090 would commence. The collected sensor data is thereby retained notwithstanding the disruption.
  • Here, it should be noted that network node device 1090 can continue to transmit collection requests to monitoring device 1060 during disruptions in the network node communication infrastructure. This would not be true if the requests themselves were sent over the network node communication infrastructure.
  • FIG. 10 illustrates the correspondence of the generation of multiple instances of a request based on a single stored collection request definition CRn. As described, a stored collection request definition CRn can be established at network node device 1090 based on one or more configuration packets. The one or more configuration packets can thereby effect a remote configuration process of a network node device. As the network node device can communicate with a gateway device via wireless communication, the network node device can be configured to collect sensor data from a device that is newly installed in a remote location. The wireless remote configuration would therefore obviate the need for incurring the time delay and expense of providing the physical cabling for connection to the device.
  • In addition to the collection of sensor data, network node device 1090 can also be configured to generate an action request (AR) to effect a control action at device 1060. Network node device 1090 can be configured to generate an AR based on the receipt of an action packet via the sensor network node communication infrastructure. In one embodiment, the action packet can include control information to be written to device 1060. In a Modbus interface example, the AR can include a write function code, the control information, and a single address (or range of addresses) that is mapped to the desired control coil or register. Upon receipt of the write request, network node device 1090 can write the control information to a particular coil or register address in device 1060, wherein the particular coil or register address can be used as part of a control action process at the monitored location. As illustrated, a control action (CA) can be generated by device 1060 in response to the received AR.
  • In general, action packets can be used to enable one-off requests. In addition to an action request, a one-off request can also relate to a one-off collection request (e.g., to effect some form of verification). As would be appreciated, the event-based action packet can be initiated in response to any event and can control network node device 1090 to generate and transmit a request to device 1060. In one embodiment, the information contained in an action packet can be deleted by network node device 1090 after execution of the request. Further, it should be noted that an AR can also be configured for transmission at periodic request intervals in a manner similar to periodic collection requests.
  • As has been described, a bridge unit can be configured to generate requests for delivery to an external device. It is also recognized that a bridge unit can be configured to respond to requests. For example, a bridge unit can be positioned to operate in a manner similar to an external device in responding to requests from a control system. In this framework, the bridge unit can be configured to present sensor information to the control system based on measurements by a sensor located anywhere in the sensor network and/or to implement control actions anywhere in the sensor network based on the receipt of control data from the control system.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates an example embodiment of a bridge unit that can emulate a Modbus device when interfacing with a control system. As illustrated, bridge unit 1110 includes controller 1111, an example of which was described with reference to controller 310 in FIG. 3, and Modbus controller 1112 operating in a slave mode. Modbus controller 1112 in bridge unit 1110 can be configured to interface with Modbus controller 1131 operating in a master mode. In this arrangement, Modbus controller 1112 can be configured to respond to requests from Modbus controller 1131. For example, Modbus controller 1131 can transmit a Modbus request that includes a device address, function code, and the data address (or range of addresses). This Modbus request can be used to collect information from bridge unit 1110 (e.g., sensor information and/or additional information) in a manner similar to the collection of sensor data from a Modbus device. As compared to the interface relationship illustrated in FIG. 4, the role of the bridge unit has switched from a master mode to a slave mode. Again, it should be noted that the interface can be a direct serial interface or can be an interface enabled by a TCP/IP network.
  • From one perspective, bridge unit 1110 can function as a type of proxy. While bridge unit 1110 can stand in the place of another device in presenting sensor information based on sensor data generated by another device, the back-end functions of the operation center enables bridge unit 1110 to present customized sensor information, not just the sensor data collected and/or generated by another device.
  • In communicating with Modbus controller 1131, Modbus controller 1112 can be configured based on configuration settings stored in a database of the operation center. In one embodiment, the configuration settings for Modbus controller 1112 in bridge unit 1110 can be stored in accordance with an identifier based on a gateway identifier, a sensor network node identifier, and a port identifier, wherein the port identifier references a particular connector interface of the sensor network node to which bridge unit 1110 is connected. In one example, the configuration settings can specify the device and data addresses (or range of addresses) needed for Modbus controller 1112 to respond to requests from Modbus controller 1131. For example, the configuration settings can specify the data address (or range of addresses) to be associated with sensor information and/or additional information to be provided to Modbus controller 1131. Based on this association, Modbus controller 1112 would know which sensor information and/or additional information should be sent to Modbus controller 1131 in response to a request. In one embodiment, the configuration settings can be generated based on inputs provided by a user through a user interface supported by the operation center.
  • Based on the configuration settings stored in the database, the operation center can generate configuration packets for transmission to the supporting sensor network node via the gateway. The configuration packets can then be used by the sensor network node to configure the operation of the Modbus controller in the bridge unit attached to the particular port of the sensor network node. The configuration settings can therefore be used to effect a remote configuration of the interface between Modbus controller 1112 in bridge unit 1110 and Modbus controller 1131.
  • FIG. 12 illustrates an overview of an example configuration of a bridge unit in a sensor network platform that can respond to requests from a control system. In this illustration, assume that control system 1260 supports a communication interface based on an industry-defined protocol such as Modbus, BACnet, LonWorks, or any other industry-defined interface specification. Again, while the example embodiment described above included a bridge unit physically attached to a sensor network node via a plug-and-play universal interface, such an example is not intended to be limiting. In another embodiment, the functionally of a bridge unit and a sensor network node can be incorporated into an integrated network node device.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 12, the sensor network platform includes gateway device 1221, sensor network node 1222, and bridge unit 1240. Bridge unit 1240 can be designed to support the particular communication interface used by control system 1260. Bridge unit 1240 can be remotely configured to respond to requests generated by control system 1260. The requests can relate to the collection of particular sensor information from bridge unit 1240 and/or to present particular control data to bridge unit 1240. Both the presentation of particular sensor information and the reception of particular control data can be performed by bridge unit 1240 on behalf of any device connected to the sensor network platform. An example of such an emulation function was illustrated by bridge unit 180 in the context of the high-level overview of FIG. 1.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 12, configuration information can be transmitted from operation center 1230 to gateway 1221 via the network connection, then can be transmitted from gateway 1221 to network node 1222 via the sensor network node communication infrastructure. In one embodiment, the configuration information is based on configuration settings that are stored in a database of operation center 1230.
  • The configuration information received by sensor network node 1222 can be used to configure the manner by which bridge unit 1240 would respond to requests by control system 1260. Where the request relates to the collection of particular sensor information, bridge unit 1240 would return a response back to bridge unit 840 that includes the requested sensor information. As will be described in greater detail below, the requested sensor information can be received by sensor network node 1222 from operation center 1230 via gateway 1221. Where the request relates to the presentation of particular control data, bridge unit 1240 would receive the presented control data and transmit the presented control data to operation center 1230 via gateway 1221.
  • Having described a general framework for the configuration of bridge unit 1240 in responding to requests, a detailed description of an example interaction by a network node device with a control system is now provided with reference to FIG. 13. In this example embodiment, network node device 1390 can represent the functionality produced by the combination of a sensor network node and a bridge unit. As noted above, network node device 1390 can be implemented as two separate devices that are physically attached, or can represent a single integrated device.
  • Network node device 1390 can be remotely configured to respond to requests by control system 1360. As illustrated in FIG. 13, control system 1360 can generate a plurality of collection requests (CR1-CRN). Each collection request CRn can represent a periodic request for particular sensor information. As would be appreciated, a one-time request can represent a special case of a periodic request, wherein only a single instance of the collection request is issued by control system 1360.
  • Since network node device 1390 is emulating a device that generates sensor data, network node device 1390 can be configured to present customized sensor information to control system 1360. Configuration of network node device 1390 can be enabled through the receipt of configuration packets via the sensor network node communication infrastructure. Configuration information contained in the configuration packets can originate at the operation center, which communicates with the gateway device at the monitored location via a network connection. In a general sense, the provision of new sensor information for presentation by network node device 1390 can be treated in a manner similar to the update of any aspect of the configuration of network node device 1390. Here, the addition of new sensor information to network node device 1390 can be viewed as a change in the way that network node device 1390 would respond to a collection request CRn by control system 1360.
  • As such, configuration packets can be used to provide not only the customized sensor information to be presented to control system 1360, but also collection request association information that would enable network node device 1390 to associate customized sensor information with potential collection requests from control system 1360. In general, the configuration packets can include any configuration information that would help network node device 1390 to know how to respond to a particular request from control system 1360. In FIG. 13, this association is illustrated by memory map 1392, which enables network node device 1390 to associate received customized sensor information with a particular received request.
  • Control system 1360 can be configured to generate a plurality of collection requests (CR1-CRN), wherein each collection request CRn can request one or more elements of sensor information. Each collection request CRn can be designed to retrieve sensor information periodically through the transmission by control system 1360 of multiple instances of the same collection request CRn. Network node device 1390 would receive each instance of the collection request CRn, identify the sensor information SIn associated with the collection request CRn using memory map 1392, and transmit the associated sensor information SIn back to control system 1360 as part of a response. In the illustration of FIG. 13, each one of multiple collection requests (CR1-CRN) would produce a corresponding response having associated sensor information (SI1-SIN). Multiple instances of the collection requests would produce multiple instances of responses including the associated sensor information. Thus, sensor information (SI11-SIN1) is returned in response to the first instance of collection requests (CR1-CRN), sensor information (SI12-SIN2) is returned in response to the second instance of collection requests (CR1-CRN), . . . , and sensor information (SI1M-SINM) is returned in response to the Mth instance of collection requests (CR1-RN).
  • Ideally, sensor information is always made available to network node device 1390 just prior to the receipt by network node device 1390 of an associated collection request. This condition may not always be true and is a consequence of the fact that network node device 1390 is emulating another device. Effectively, the collection requests submitted by control system 1360 are sampling sensor information that is continually changing at network node device 1390. Where the configuration packets update sensor information at network node device 1390 more frequently than collection requests are received from control system 1360, then some sensor information updates can be missed by the collection requests. This may not necessarily be a problem because the frequency of collection requests may be enough to suit the needs of control system 1360. Where the configuration packets update sensor information at network node device 1390 less frequently than collection requests are received from control system 1360, then some sensor information returned to control system 1360 can represent “stale” sensor information that has previously been received.
  • In one embodiment, network node device 1390 can be configured to delete sensor information after the sensor information has been presented to control system 1360 in response to a collection request. Where new sensor information has not been received prior to a subsequent collection request, network node device 1390 can be configured to return an exception response, which would alert control system 1360 that new sensor information is not available. Control system 1360 could then accelerate the queuing of a new instance of the collection request for that sensor information. In one embodiment, network node device 1390 can also be configured to return an exception response when a disruption in the sensor network node infrastructure has been detected, which would preclude the receipt of sensor information updates from the operation center.
  • In another embodiment, network node device 1390 could store timestamp information with sensor information such that the time stamp information can be returned to control system 1360 in response to a collection request. This timetamp information would then provide control system 1360 with an understanding of the relative recency of the sensor information in the context of a stream of sensor information. As would be appreciated, the timestamp information can relate to a time the sensor information was generated, a time the sensor information was received at the operation center, a time the sensor information was received at network node device 1390, or any other time associated with the flow of the sensor information to network node device 1390.
  • Network node device 1390 can also be configured to respond to action requests received from control system 1360. While an action request can be produced periodically to perform a series of repeated actions, the description below describes a one-off action request. As would be appreciated, periodic action requests would represent multiple instances of the same action request and can be handled accordingly by network node device 1390 as described below.
  • An action request (AR) can be transmitted to effect a control action anywhere in the sensor network. Significantly, the particular location of the control action can be remote from network node device 1390. Network node device 1390 happens to be a recipient of the action request, but need not be the actual executor of the control action in response to the action request. Network node device 1390 can relay control data back to the operation center via the gateway device, wherein the operation center can then send control information (e.g., action packet described with reference to FIG. 9), which is based on the control data, to another network node device for execution of the control action. In one embodiment, the bridge unit can be configured to send a message to the sensor network node that the bridge unit has received an action request to be delivered to the sensor network node.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 13, one or more configuration packets can be used to provide action request association information that would enable network node device 1390 to transmit particular control data (CD) to the operation center in response to a received action request (AR). In the example of a Modbus interface, request map 1392 can represent a memory mapping that associates control data to be transmitted to the operation center with data requested by control system 1360 to be written to a particular register address. In one embodiment, the control data can include information that enables identification of a particular actuator device in the sensor network and an action to be taken by the actuator device.
  • In one embodiment, the CD that is transmitted to the operation center can be included in an update packet that is returned to the gateway device via the sensor network node communication infrastructure. Contents of the update packet can then be transmitted by the gateway device to the operation center to alert the operation center of a change in the configuration of network node device 1390. The reported change in configuration of network node device 1390 can then produce a response by the operation center in implementing a control action by an actuator device in the sensor network.
  • Having described an example interaction by a network node device with a control system and the example interaction by a network node device with a device, a description of an end-to-end data flow is now provided. FIG. 14 provides an example illustration of an operation of a sensor network that collects sensor data from device 1410 and presents sensor information based on the collected sensor data to control system 1480.
  • Device 1410 can generate sensor data based on measurements performed by one or more supported sensors. The generated sensor data can then be made available to bridge unit 1420. This process is illustrated as data flow “1”. In one example, the provision of sensor data from device 1410 to bridge unit 1420 can be performed via an external interface based on an industry-defined protocol (e.g., Modbus). In another example, the sensor data is made available via intra-device communication.
  • Bridge unit 1420 can leverage a sensor network node communication infrastructure formed by a plurality of sensor network nodes to communicate the collected sensor data to gateway 1440. Entry into the sensor network node communication infrastructure is through sensor network node 1430. In one embodiment, bridge unit 1420 is attached to sensor network node 1430 via a plug-and-play universal sensor interface. The communication through the sensor network node communication infrastructure is illustrated as data flow “2”. The sensor network node infrastructure can be based on wired and/or wireless communication, and can include communication through one or more intervening nodes between sensor network node 1430 and gateway 1440. In one example, the sensor data is communicated through a wireless mesh network formed by a plurality of wireless sensor network nodes.
  • Gateway 1440 can transmit the data received from the sensor network node communication infrastructure to operation center 1450 via a network connection. This communication is illustrated as data flow “3”. Operation center 1450 can be located external to the monitored location. In various embodiments, the network connection can be based on wired and/or wireless communications.
  • Having been transported offsite from the monitored location, the collected sensor data can now be processed for presentation to control system 1480. In one embodiment, the processing is performed by custom processing element 1451, which can be enabled by one or more servers at operation center 1450 under the control of configuration settings established by a user. In one embodiment, the processing can include one or more conversion functions defined by the configuration settings. These one or more conversion functions may not be supported by device 1410.
  • In general, the customized information can be designed to produce actionable information for use by control system 1480. Operation center 1450 can be configured to process collected sensor data to produce any form or type of information needed by control system 1480. Thus, the particular processing performed by operation center 1450 would be dependent on the needs and capabilities of control system 1480 and the sensor application implemented.
  • The production, by custom processing element 1451, of sensor information from collected sensor data is illustrated as data flow “4”. The custom-processed sensor information can now be returned to the monitored location for presentation to control system 1480. Operation center 1450 can be configured to transmit the custom-processed sensor information back to gateway 1440 via the network connection. This communication is illustrated as data flow “5”.
  • Gateway 1440 would then transmit the custom-processed sensor information to bridge unit 1470 via the sensor network node communication infrastructure formed by the plurality of sensor network nodes. This communication through the sensor network node communication infrastructure is illustrated as data flow “6”. Again, the communication through the sensor network node communication infrastructure can include communication through one or more intervening nodes between gateway 1440 and sensor network node 1460.
  • The custom-processed sensor information can exit from the sensor network node communication infrastructure through sensor network node 1460 and be passed to bridge unit 1470. In one embodiment, bridge unit 1470 is attached to sensor network node 1470 via a plug-and-play universal sensor interface.
  • Bridge unit 1470 can now present the custom-processed sensor information to control system 1480. This presentation is illustrated as data flow “7”. In one embodiment, the presentation of custom-processed sensor information from bridge unit 1470 to control system 1480 can be performed via an external interface based on an industry-defined protocol (e.g., Modbus). As this example data flow illustrates, custom-processed sensor information can be generated from sensor data collected by device 1410 then presented to control system 1480 through a known interface supported by control system 1480.
  • FIG. 15 provides an example illustration of an operation of a sensor network that receives control data from control system 1580 and presents control information based on the received control data to device 1510.
  • Control system 1580 can generate control data to initiate a control action by an actuator supported by device 1510. In one example, the control data can be generated based on analytics performed by control system 1580 on sensor data available to control system 1580. The generated control data can then be provided to bridge unit 1570. The provision of control data to bridge unit 1570 is illustrated as data flow “1”. In one example, the provision of control data from control system 1580 to bridge unit 1570 can be performed via an external interface based on an industry-defined protocol (e.g., Modbus).
  • Bridge unit 1570 can leverage a sensor network node communication infrastructure formed by a plurality of sensor network nodes to communicate the control data to gateway 1540. Entry into the sensor network node communication infrastructure is through sensor network node 1560. In one embodiment, bridge unit 1570 is attached to sensor network node 1560 via a plug-and-play universal sensor interface. The communication through the sensor network node communication infrastructure is illustrated as data flow “2”. The sensor network node infrastructure can be based on wired and/or wireless communication, and can include communication through one or more intervening nodes between sensor network node 1560 and gateway 1540. In one example, the control data is communicated through a wireless mesh network formed by a plurality of wireless sensor network nodes.
  • Gateway 1540 can transmit the control data received from the sensor network node communication infrastructure to operation center 1550 via a network connection. This communication is illustrated as data flow “3”. Operation center 1550 can be located external to the monitored location. In various embodiments, the network connection can be based on wired and/or wireless communications.
  • Having been transported offsite from the monitored location, the collected control data can now be processed for presentation to device 1510. In one embodiment, the processing is performed by custom processing element 1551, which can be enabled by one or more servers at operation center 1550 under the control of configuration settings established by a user. In one embodiment, the processing can include one or more analytic functions defined by the configuration settings. These one or more conversion functions may not be supported by control system 1580. The production, by custom processing element 1551, of control information from received control data is illustrated as data flow “4”. The custom-processed control information can now be returned to the monitored location for presentation to device 1510. Operation center 1550 can be configured to transmit the custom-processed control information back to gateway 1540 via the network connection. This communication is illustrated as data flow “5”.
  • Gateway 1540 would then transmit the custom-processed control information to bridge unit 1520 via the sensor network node communication infrastructure formed by the plurality of sensor network nodes. This communication through the sensor network node communication infrastructure is illustrated as data flow “6”. Again, the communication through the sensor network node communication infrastructure can include communication through one or more intervening nodes between gateway 1540 and sensor network node 1530.
  • The custom-processed control information can exit from the sensor network node communication infrastructure through sensor network node 1530 and be passed to bridge unit 1520. In one embodiment, bridge unit 1520 is attached to sensor network node 1530 via a plug-and-play universal sensor interface.
  • Bridge unit 1520 can now present the custom-processed control information to actuator device 1510. This presentation is illustrated as data flow “7”. In one embodiment, the presentation of custom-processed control information from bridge unit 1520 to actuator device 1510 can be performed via an external interface based on an industry-defined protocol (e.g., Modbus). As this example data flow illustrates, custom-processed control information can be generated from control data received from control system 1580 then presented to actuator device 1510 through a known interface supported by device 1510.
  • Another embodiment of the present disclosure can provide a machine and/or computer readable storage and/or medium, having stored thereon, a machine code and/or a computer program having at least one code section executable by a machine and/or a computer, thereby causing the machine and/or computer to perform the steps as described herein.
  • Those of skill in the relevant art would appreciate that the various illustrative blocks, modules, elements, components, and methods described herein may be implemented as electronic hardware, computer software, or combinations of both. To illustrate this interchangeability of hardware and software, various illustrative blocks, modules, elements, components, methods, and algorithms have been described above generally in terms of their functionality. Whether such functionality is implemented as hardware or software depends upon the particular application and design constraints imposed on the overall system. Those of skill in the relevant art can implement the described functionality in varying ways for each particular application. Various components and blocks may be arranged differently (e.g., arranged in a different order, or partitioned in a different way) all without departing from the scope of the subject technology.
  • These and other aspects of the present disclosure will become apparent to those skilled in the relevant art by a review of the preceding detailed disclosure. Although a number of salient features of the present disclosure have been described above, the principles in the present disclosure are capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways that would be apparent to one of skill in the relevant art after reading the present disclosure, therefore the above disclosure should not be considered to be exclusive of these other embodiments. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purposes of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

Claims (20)

What is claimed is:
1. A method, comprising:
storing, by a wireless node device, request configuration information that enables the wireless node device to generate a plurality of requests to obtain sensor data from a wired device connected to the wireless node device via a wired communication link, wherein the request configuration information is based on at least one configuration update packet received from a gateway device via a wireless communication protocol;
detecting, by the wireless node device, that network communication between the wireless node device and the gateway device is disrupted;
periodically generating, by the wireless node device, a request to obtain sensor data identified by the request configuration information from the wired device, wherein a plurality of requests for the sensor data identified by the request configuration information are generated within a time period following the detection;
storing, by the wireless node device, sensor data based on a plurality of responses by the wired device to the plurality of requests in a memory of the wireless node device; and
transmitting, by the wireless node device, the stored sensor data to the gateway device upon a determination that the network communication between the wireless node device and the gateway device is operational.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the wireless communication is based on IEEE 802.15.4.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the gateway device is located in a building in which the wireless node device is installed.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein the plurality of requests are based on the Modbus communication protocol.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the plurality of requests are based on the BACnet communication protocol.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein the storing sensor data comprises storing sensor data in association with timestamp data.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising generating, by the gateway device, the at least one configuration update packet based on information received from one or more servers in an operation center.
8. A collection device, comprising
a memory storage;
a wireless transceiver that receives one or more configuration update packets from a gateway device via wireless communication; and
a controller that generates a plurality of digital communication protocol requests in a time period following a detection of a disruption of communication between the collection device and the gateway device, the plurality of digital communication protocol requests generated based on the one or more configuration update packets and transmitted to a wired device connected to the collection device via a wired communication link, the controller configured to store sensor data based on wherein a plurality of responses corresponding to the plurality of digital communication protocol requests in the memory storage until restoration of communication between the collection device and the gateway device.
9. The collection device of claim 8, wherein the wireless communication is based on IEEE 802.15.4.
10. The collection device of claim 8, wherein the plurality of digital communication protocol requests is based on the Modbus communication protocol.
11. The collection device of claim 8, wherein the plurality of digital communication protocol requests is based on the BACnet communication protocol.
12. The collection device of claim 8, wherein the wireless transceiver is configured to transmit the stored sensor data upon restoration of network communication between the collection device and the gateway device.
13. The collection device of claim 8, wherein the sensor data is stored in association with timestamp data.
14. A method, comprising:
receiving, by a wireless node device, one or more configuration update packets from a gateway device via wireless communication;
storing, by the wireless node device, digital communication protocol request configuration information by the wireless node device based on at least one of the one or more configuration update packets;
generating, by the wireless node device using the digital communication protocol request configuration information, a digital communication protocol request for transmission to a wired device connected to the wireless node device via a wired communication link, the digital communication protocol request configured to retrieve a sensor measurement stored at the wired device, the generating occurring periodically over a period of time to produce a plurality of digital communication protocol requests for updated sensor measurements stored at the wired device, the period of time between two digital communication protocol requests determined based on a polling frequency parameter contained in at least one of the one or more configuration update packets; and
transmitting, by the wireless node device to the gateway device, a plurality of sensor measurements obtained from the wired device via the plurality of digital communication protocol requests.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the wireless communication is based on IEEE 802.15.4.
16. The method of claim 14, wherein the gateway device is located in a building in which the wireless node device is installed.
17. The method of claim 14, wherein the plurality of digital communication protocol requests are based on the Modbus communication protocol.
18. The method of claim 1, wherein the plurality of digital communication protocol requests are based on the BACnet communication protocol.
19. The method of claim 1, wherein the transmitting comprises transmitting sensor measurements in association with timestamp data.
20. The method of claim 1, further comprising generating, by the gateway device, the one or more configuration update packets based on information received from one or more servers in an operation center.
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US14/871,014 US9876653B1 (en) 2014-05-13 2015-09-30 System, method and apparatus for augmenting a building control system domain
US14/926,089 US10652767B1 (en) 2014-05-13 2015-10-29 System, method and apparatus for managing disruption in a sensor network application
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