Secure wireless Communication
Wireless communication technologies have become an integral part in many aspects of our daily lives. In the age of digital connectivity, they are also becoming increasingly important for safety-critical industrial applications. In particular the 2.4 Gigahertz ISM Radio Band represents an interesting option for the wireless transmission of monitoring and control data. However, for selecting the appropriate wireless technology, there are several aspects to consider.
Radio technology is a reliable method for the wireless transmission of signals via electromagnetic waves. Over the past decades, the technology has been continuously developed and offers meanwhile new perspectives for industrial applications.
The frequency of radio waves ranges from ten kilohertz (kHz) to 100 gigahertz (GHz) and is divided into individual bands. Some frequency ranges are internationally designated as ISM bands (industrial, scientific, and medical) and can be used worldwide without license. Consumer electronics and IoT products primarily use the 2.4 GHz ISM Band, which is the common frequency band for wireless transmission technologies like Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee or Thread.
In the professional sector, the 2.4 GHz ISM band has rarely been used for the purpose of data transmission as both its range and interference resistance were insufficient for industrial applications. Some industries therefore used the band exclusively for optional services that had no impact on the core functionality.
Thanks to the emerging IoT market, radio technology has been continuously developed in recent years and offers meanwhile high potential also for industrial applications. An example proofs a system for the wireless transmission of monitoring and control data using the 2.4 GHz ISM band, which was developed by Mission Embedded as part of a project for railway stations. A special focus in this project was on the topic of functional safety.
Radio connections offer significant advantages compared to wired transmission. This specifically includes the elimination of wires, the reduced complexity in the field of system construction as well as lower maintenance requirements for moving parts.
The 2.4 GHz ISM band also enables radio links between mobile devices or between mobile and stationary transmitters. It is license-free and can be used almost worldwide, thus eliminating the need for individual solutions per region and country, which would be required in case of radio bands between 400 MHz and 1 GHz (“Sub-GHz”).
Another major advantage of the 2.4 GHz ISM band is its wide channel bandwidth of one to five MHz, allowing a high data rate. In a reliable professional radio link, this bandwidth is used to incorporate redundancies and channel coding, which benefits both the bit error rate and the range. An additional service provides the possible classification of messages that can be sent over the same radio link with different priorities and different requirements – for example, regarding the error rate.
Especially in safety-critical sectors such as industry, transportation or aviation, the secure and reliable functioning of radio applications is mandatory. And exactly this is where the greatest challenge lies, as no radio technology guarantees reliability inherently. For the selection of the appropriate technology it is therefore crucial to thoroughly analyze the specific use case to ensure maximum security. Even a combination of different radio technologies would be possible if required.
With increasing connectivity and the growing threat of cyber-attacks, the security aspect plays a particularly important role in radio networks. Without proper security measures wireless networks pose an enormous potential security risk for companies. Within the 2.4 GHz ISM band, both Bluetooth and the recognized IEEE 802.15.4g standard can be used for authentication and encryption of the transmitted data. In addition, the band allows configuration, maintenance, and monitoring of a radio system via mobile phone – also known as commissioning – and can thus be used for the initial setup of relevant security parameters.
To ensure the reliable operation of radio systems even under difficult environmental conditions, a high degree of robustness is required. Amongst other factors this is achieved by creating redundancies and channel coding.
Selecting the right wireless technology requires a systematic approach, as there are many aspects to consider. This includes for example the topology (such as point-to-point, star, or mesh topology), the logical connection (broadcast, multicast, or unicast) and the planned data exchange (protocol, interval, throughput, latency, number of radio participants, data integrity requirements, etc.). In addition, the connection to existing systems or systems that are also to be implemented, for example IP networks, must be taken into account accordingly.
As a member of the Frequentis Group, Mission Embedded builds on more than 75 years of experience and expertise in the development of highly reliable communication systems. Customized wireless solutions from Mission Embedded have already been applied in a wide variety of applications in the fields of transportation, blue-light organizations, aviation, medical technology, as well as in hazardous industrial areas.
In a project for railway stations, for example, Mission Embedded implemented a decentralized control and monitoring system for a renowned customer – from the feasibility study to series production. The system communication is predominantly wireless, using the 2,4 GHz ISM Band.
Learn more about Mission Embedded secure wireless communication solutions:
Mission Embedded provides highly reliable embedded systems and customized system solutions for safety-critical applications. Our customers are worldwide leading companies in the fields of rail & transportation, heavy machinery, industry, medical technology, as well as aviation and defense.
We offer companies tailored solutions based on the latest technologies in order to exploit the full potential of their products and applications in the age of digitalization and to make their operations more secure and efficient.
Our special expertise and years of experience lie in the areas of embedded vision, sensor technology, artificial intelligence, cloud solutions, safety and security as well as explosion protection and functional safety.
As a full-service provider with in-house development, high-quality production, and comprehensive lifecycle management, we accompany our customers from the initial product idea to series production and far beyond.
Mission Embedded is a member of the Frequentis Group, the world’s leading provider of safety-critical information and communication systems and builds on 75 years of experience in mission-critical system solutions.
Contact us and discover with Mission Embedded new opportunities for your innovative project ideas: https://mission-embedded.com/en/contakt/
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