Scottish businesses sense importance of intelligent environments

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Wireless Innovations Sixth Sense seminar shows wireless is getting smart

Increasing market adoption of Wireless Sensors is changing the way we interact with our day-to-day environment.  World-class Scottish developers and universities are leading the way in this marketplace and companies keen to capitalize on this trend are deploying these technologies in their business today.

The impressive representation from Scotlands top 100 companies at the Wireless Innovation hosted event is testament to the fact that Scotlands investment in Wireless Sensory Networks (WSN) enabled property and services is on the increase.

The total market size for WSNs is estimated to grow to $7billion by 2010 (1) with residential, commercial and industrial applications spanning smart home audio, lighting and security controls, to energy saving housing projects and factory automation.

Wireless network technologies are driving an evolution within the communications marketplace by providing the ability to obtain real time, physical data from the environment through the use of remote sensors, said Alisdair Gunn, Sixth Sense seminar organiser and Technology Manager at Wireless Innovation.

Scotland is embracing the opportunity to lead the development and uptake of these enabling technologies, helping businesses to gain more control over processes, reducing costs and giving greater interaction with their environment.

There are several Scottish developers currently operating in this space. Products with a proven track record are most evident in the residential property market with companies like Boston Networks and Hometech Integration enjoying increasing demand for smart home solutions.

Boston Networks Smarthomes build intelligent network infrastructures that use internet protocol (IP) as a platform to deliver whole-home internet, entertainment, security, TV and telephony. Chief Executive Keith Anderson believes it's not the consumer electronics that matter per se, it's how they connect that determines the uptake, success and longevity of home technology.  He explained:

The user interface is critical - proprietary systems will fail if they don't give the user the information they need without the need for a PC or knowledge of IP. It is clear that an IP infrastructure should be a pre-requisite in all new homes. The early adopter stage has passed and, with mainstream consumer electronics firms now shipping internet protocol (IP) connected devices, the homeowner can use IP without even knowing it is there - the only way critical mass can ever be achieved.

Another company making inroads into the wireless sensor market is Ubiquitis. Their Automated Meter Reading technology is being adopted by utility companies, local authorities and NHS Trusts to deliver real energy, time and money savings to companies, and end-users alike. 

Director of Ubiquitis, Jeff Wright commented:

"The advancements made in wireless utility metering are already delivering significant energy savings to businesses and the public sector. This can provide significant cash savings with the ever increasing energy prices. Ubiquitis is discussing opportunities with clients in China and developing countries, which if successful, will also benefit our Scottish supply chain partner companies, which can only be good for our global economic competitiveness in the $40billion M2M market opportunity."

Research into the future of wireless sensors is also gaining pace with the Speckled Computing Research Consortium led by the University of Edinburgh researching the next generation of wireless sensor networks called Specknets.

DK Arvind, Director of the Speckled Computing Research Consortium said:

We wish to both maintain the technological edge in wireless sensor networks and translate this into competitive advantage for companies in Scotland. I believe the economic impact of wireless sensor networks will be massive, comparable to microprocessors in the past.

Large companies that are actively interested in the research, development and application of wireless technologies include BT and Oracle. Jane Tateson, Senior Researcher at BT Group CTO said:

"BT is developing ubiquitous computing based around small low-powered devices. Although each device is simple and cheap, collectively they create autonomous, adaptive, always-available technology to enhance people's lives and work. We are working with top universities to create solutions in the areas of environmental monitoring, telecare and infrastructure integrity assurance, amongst others."

Eddie Chance, Regional Director of Oracle Scotland, said:

"Pervasive wireless technology or RFID has been described as one of the few truly disruptive technologies to emerge in recent years. The benefits to both consumers and the business community are potentially enormous which is why there is so much excitement around the technology at this point in time. RFID promises to revolutionise supply chains and usher in a new area of cost savings, efficiency and business intelligence. The potential applications are vast as it is relevant to any organisation that is engaged in the production, movement or sales of physical goods. This includes retailers, logistics service providers, manufacturers and their entire supplier base. The clear objective is to ensure that some of these cost savings are passed to the consumer.

Our lifestyles today mean that we need to remain in constant communication with our business operations and the enablement of computerised solutions that allows constant connectivity is becoming more and more important.

Oracle is delighted to be associated with Wireless Innovation and is today announcing a partnership that enables the member companies access to Oracle's world-class software as the platform to allow these applications to be built and commercialised. Scotland has a history of innovation and Oracle wants to make sure that Scotland is a leading player in what is already a billion pound global market."

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