Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

GridComm and Virtual Extension combine mesh network with power line communications

Steve Rogerson
March 3, 2016
GridComm, a Singapore-based provider of narrow-band power line communications (PLC), has partnered with Israel-based wireless mesh network company Virtual Extension to provide hybrid connectivity of high-performance wireless mesh and narrow-band PLC networks.
The joint R&D is supported and co-funded via the Singapore-Israel Industrial Research & Development Foundation (SIIRD).
The aim is to increase cost efficiency synergistically, reduce time to market and enable a new range of IoT and M2M projects. Applications that will benefit include smart lighting control, smart metering, smart agriculture, smart city, smart water management, environmental monitoring, medical, and security and safety.
"Our wireless extensions for Dali (digital addressable lighting interface) and IoT networks have already proven to be extremely successful in citywide streetlight deployments and industrial lighting controls, as well as in smart metering and a large variety of applications that need to be high-performance and yet cost-effective," said Yariv Oren, CEO of Virtual Extension. "Adding PLC connectivity further increases their usefulness for our customers, and helps us expand into new markets."
With three families of products that enable replacing the wiring in Dali by wireless, integrating Dali with IoT or using pure IoT, Virtual Extension provides various lighting control to be used in highway, street and professional lighting. These products are based on Virtual Extension's VEmesh wireless mesh technology.
VEmesh employs space, time and frequency diversity to provide robustness and resiliency, a practically unlimited number of nodes per network, low and deterministic latency, ease of deployment, and maintenance and cost-effectiveness. The same VEmesh technology is also used in smart metering and other applications capable of benefiting from the additional connectivity offered by PLC technology.
Leveraging its multi-channel frequency technologies in its GC2200 phy transceiver IC, GridComm has developed a fully adaptable, self-configuring network, GC-Net, that enables reliable power line communications. With an additional wireless phy channel enabled by VEmesh technology, the combination can provide a hybrid network that enables seamless and reliable communications among wired, wireless and hybrid wired-wireless nodes within a unified network.
Managing different networks separately with different communications technologies contributes to complexities and increases overhead in the systems. Virtual Extension and GridComm have changed that. The hybrid connectivity brings benefits such as a common set of commands and network IDs that can be used to address and control wired, wireless and hybrid wired-wireless nodes.
"We are very encouraged and thankful to SIIRD for enabling GridComm and Virtual Extension to develop this cutting-edge hybrid PLC and wireless technology," said Mike Holt, CEO of GridComm. "We foresee that this technology will tremendously reduce meter installation and maintenance costs through automatic configuration of PLC and wireless channels, enabling robust and reliable sustained communications in noisy environments. This technology will also enable our customers to connect wireless sensors, such as weather sensors, light sensors and motion sensors to our smart street light system effortlessly. This will truly enable the realisation of a smart city."
SIIRD is a cooperation between the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Office of the Chief Scientist in Israel to promote, facilitate and support joint industrial R&D projects between companies from Israel and Singapore that could lead to successful commercialisation. To date, SIIRD has co-funded 146 joint R&D projects between companies from Singapore and Israel.
"SIIRD is happy to support the collaboration between Virtual Extension and GridComm," said Chan Eng Chye, general manager of SIIRD. "SIIRD's main role is to identify and help promising technology companies from Israel and Singapore to jointly develop industrial projects that can be commercialised and are beneficial to the industry."