“Intelligent applications that can take action”: Q&A with Scott Allen, FreeWave Technologies



Five “must understands” when developing solutions for the IIoT edge in the avionics and military sectors.

Scott Allen, FreeWave Technologies

Editor’s Note: Wireless M2M provider FreeWave Technologies CMO Scott Allen responded to some questions from EECatalog shortly after FreeWave announced its most recent 900 MHz radio  for OEM and embedded applications. The company has also announced a solution for “developing and hosting third party apps for intelligent control and automation of remote sensors and devices in the field.”

EECatalog: Please speak a bit to the significance of full programmability of the Z9-PC radio with third-party applications as this programmability relates to military “Command, Control and Communication” as well as to how it will make a difference for avionics’ Size, Weight and Power and Cost (SWaP-C) challenges.

Scott Allen, FreeWave Technologies: Having a powerful computing and communication device that is low weight (41-45g), low power (transmit 350ma, receive/idle 100ma), small form factor (102x51mm) that supports third-party specialized applications and high-speed transmission (4000 kbps) both expands the capabilities that can be deployed in an avionics device and reduces the need for other interface boards on the device.

Image courtesy FreeWave

EECatalog: What issues with regard to the edge of the IIoT, and specifically to defense, are not getting the attention they deserve?

Allen, FreeWave Technologies: Intelligent applications that can take action based on what the edge device sees or understands at a local level and streamline (reduce overall traffic, only send changed data) back to core data center services for further analytics.

EECatalog: What are five “must understands” about wireless applications for engineers working on embedded systems that interact with the IIoT edge in avionics and military settings?

Allen, FreeWave Technologies: Security Any application server software AND any application running on that server software must be as secure as possible. In addition, any compromised application or application server must not be able to interfere with core radio functionality.

Image courtesy FreeWave

Core Function Protection In avionics and military settings each radio is usually responsible for a single function of the system. For example, one radio could be responsible for Command and Control while another radio is responsible for data transfer. Any application environment deployed on a radio application server should not interfere with the core function of the radio itself.

Data Rate Changes Any application deployed on a system must be able to dynamically adjust to bandwidth changes based on the RF environment and distances found in the flight path. This is important so that data collected is not lost in transmission when interference prevents or limits data transfer.

Quality Application Development Developing applications that don’t have memory leaks or other critical issues that may impact the long-term ability of the platform to perform in the field must be well understood by engineers. Having this understanding will prevent failed or poorly performing systems.

Frequency Fit Engineers must understand the tradeoffs between various frequencies and throughput capabilities as they design applications that transmit data wirelessly. Any application designed for an edge device for avionics or military environments must take into consideration how much bandwidth is available for data transmission, how much data can be stored on the device itself, and what customer expectations are for the deployment of the system.

EECatalog: How did listening to and actively seeking information from customers (and perhaps your customers’ customers as well) lead to emphases on certain approaches over others as the ZumLink Series has been rolled out?

Allen, FreeWave Technologies: Higher throughput, computing power, and a third-party application development environment were customer-driven features that led to the development and release of the ZumLink platform.

EECatalog: The announcement of the addition of the ZumLink Z9-PC to your ZumLink 900 Series noted that “Companies in critical industries can utilize data and provide command and control like never before.” How so?

Allen, FreeWave Technologies: Customers can develop, deploy, and manage third-party applications on the radio platform without the need for other interface cards or computing modules. These applications can collect and analyze data that is transmitted from the radio, execute commands that change the behavior of sensors or devices in the network at a local level, and communicate information collected globally for further analysis/action.

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