T&D World Magazine

CalAmp Embeds Ember ZigBee Tech in Wireless Meter Reading Platform

Ember Corp. has teamed with CalAmp Corp. to enable ZigBee and IP-based wireless networks to work together for automated meter reading, peak energy demand response and other Smart Grid applications.

CalAmp has integrated Ember's EM250 ZigBee System-on-Chip (Soc) and EmberZNet PRO ZigBee networking software into its new WiMetry IP-based wireless communications platform. WiMetry enables Smart Grid functions such as Demand Response, Peak Demand Reduction and other Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) applications. CalAmp's Ember-enabled WiMetry communication devices provide a two-way communication pathway to ZigBee-enabled smart meters or In Home Devices (IHD) for energy load control, demand response, energy consumption or tariff display.

CalAmp's WiMetry enables utilities to send and receive digital information concerning electricity use, costs, prices, time of use, nature of use or other information relevant to device, grid or utility operations and helps provide homeowners with the means to make more informed decisions about their energy usage, promoting energy conservation and allowing electric utilities to reduce peak load demand.

Studies suggest that demand response programs may help reduce peak electricity demand by five percent, resulting in savings of more than $3 billion in annual cost for energy generation, transportation and distribution. Also, legislative efforts now promote investments in Smart Grid infrastructure with government grants, matching funds and tax incentives.

"Our goal was to provide real-time, two-way wireless communications to manage the sensing, collecting and monitoring of data from all portions of a utility's electric distribution grid," said Mark Christensen, vice president and general manager of CalAmp's Industrial Monitoring and Controls unit. "ZigBee wireless connectivity to both electric meters and ZigBee enabled IHDs is a critical element for Smart Grid applications and part of our WiMetry platform."

Ember's EM250 integrates an IEEE 802.15.4 radio, a 16-bit microprocessor, flash, RAM and peripherals. The EM250 SoC along with the EmberZNet PRO networking stack is a ZigBee "Golden Unit" platform and is a true SoC platform supporting the ZigBee PRO Feature Set. It also supports the new "ZigBee Smart Energy" profile, which is targeted specifically at the smart energy market.

"The need for smart energy solutions is becoming more and more urgent," said Bob Gohn, Ember's vice president of marketing. "CalAmp's WiMetry platform allows utility customers to implement efficient Smart Grid applications quickly, helping them respond to changes in their industry and our economy."

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