A year after acquiring Dust Networks, Linear Technology is helping drive down power consumption and expand markets.
There is a key difference between the Dust approach and those of software companies, whose algorithms are integrated with a
silicon solution to create an aware or smarter network and to manage
power consumption, Weiss said.
"We do our own silicon... because we looked around and said we could
do so much better than that. Most network architectures allow you to
have power for the backbone, so obsessing about power for your
802.15.4 radio is not so important. But when you're like us and
you're running a protocol where you're duty cycling so you can have
every node in the network be low power, you obsess about low power."
A year into its relationship with Linear, Dust also benefits from Linear's larger portfolio.
"It's not just the wireless aspect of the wireless sensor node anymore," Weiss said. "We can now handle everything from power management to sensor signal conditioning. Longer term, this same 'big picture' will inform and influence future product development across all relevant Linear products."
The fall announcement also marked a market expansion for Linear and
Dust. Dust's technology handles the wireless HART standard, for
industrial applications, but also can handle Internet Protocol stacks (6LoWPAN, or IPv6
over low-power wireless personal area networks) "which, as you can
imagine is kind of the rest of the world," Weiss said.
From a technology and engineering perspective, this year-old
marriage is making sense. Linear's historic strength, after all, has
been in design blocking and tackling and differentiating its
products. From a market perspective, of course, the jury's still out.
There's no doubt that smart, wireless, battery-powered networks are
an enormous opportunity. And the industrial data-acquisition market
is the first and most logical target. Dust already has customers
there (Emerson Process
, for example, bases all of its products on
"It's cheaper to add a Dust node (for $50) than any other way of
getting information in … put it there, turn it on and you're
connected," Dobkin said.
But there's a much bigger world when you start to consider home and
They won't turn it down if that's how the future develops, according
to Dobkin, who nevertheless implies some leeriness at the
"As a company, we like to run at a well-controlled rate," he said.
"Sometimes consumer looks really bumpy to us. But if Dust Networks
gets into something, there is no alternative. And that's where we
like to be: no alternative."
Tech moves to integrate Dust Nets' wireless sensors
Technology acquires Dust Networks