openD explained: concept, key elements, target market

openD explained

DECT Today: May 2017: Part I of a series of articles on openD

By Danny Hartnett, Business Development Director, DECT Forum

openD explained: This issue of DECT Today includes the first of a series of articles on a new program within DECT Forum called openD (open DECT). In this edition, I would like to outline the concept behind openD, how it came about and some of the key elements involved in bringing openD to market.

Background: CTO Workshop in 06 2016:

The underlying strategy derived from the CTO workshop in June 2016 and centred around the sure certainty that, like many other industries, our industry needed to diversify and evolve to survive. To underpin and secure the use of our 20MHz of uncongested spectrum, it is important to show that this band is in use not only for our traditional cordless applications and the more recent use for IoT devices, but that it also has the potential to be used for many diverse, mission-critical applications such as healthcare and industrial – but certainly not limited to these.

To this end, the strategy depicted above was seen to be most likely path to achieving that. The three pillars of the strategy, which should all happen in parallel, are:

  • Opening the DECT technology (openD)
  • Engaging verticals like Industrie 4.0 or healthcare.
  • Evolving the technology. This refers to bringing about change through innovation and the requirements from new verticals based on present and future profiles and protocols.

The concept of openD

The concept behind openD is to facilitate change:

– Change in the access to DECT as a technology

Like any successful technology, companies in the DECT industry work closely with their key customers bringing high volume, competitive products to market. Access to the technology and relevant interfaces have been driven by the associated business model. However, to address a wider developer audience that goes across regional and application boundaries, a different approach is necessary: easy access to the technology is one of the pillars of openD.

This means a vastly simplified approach to gaining access to development hardware and software, without the need for NDAs, LOIs or SLA’s. A simple click licence will ensure speedy access to the relevant building blocks.

– Change in the type of vertical industries that we address

For many years, the technology has enjoyed huge success serving the telephony market, providing a mature and worldwide foundation on which to bring the future for DECT. It’s key to expand our scope to vertical industries, as that will not only bring new requirements that will enhance DECT but also the commercial opportunities to make that worthwhile.

– Change in the technology application profiles, protocol and in time the technology itself from a 2G technology to a 5G technology

5G technologies are set to dominate our radio spectrum, with extremely high speed, spectral efficiency and low latency all part of the specification. To consolidate our position, DECT has to evolve from a 2G technology (IMT2000) to a 5G technology (IMT2020). This means addressing some of the use cases in the 5G triangle URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low Latency) and MTC (Machine Type Communications).

What is openD? Marketing, Technical and Community

    • openD is an open source, easy to use development platform for DECT/ULE that exposes the USPs of low latency, low power, voice, reliability and range
    • openD is a unique combined development platform for DECT/ULE. It contains the necessary Software Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to act as a plug in to prototyping platforms such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino, giving developers easy access to the strengths of DECT and ULE
    • openD is the name given to a community of DECT/ULE developers that develop, add, change and improve the package. A specialized user layer will allow developers to address key vertical markets with sample code for various application use-case scenarios
    • openD addresses key vertical markets but is not limited to these verticals. The very nature of DECT and ULE means a wide range of wireless applications in voice and smart home/building is covered, however DECT offers real benefits such as predictability, reliability and low latency in many mission-critical applications in other vertical markets

OpenD target market – why does it matter to them

    • Young application developers/makers for the Internet of Things. Typically, there is no demarcation between application developers today. They are not strictly aligned to developing one type of application
    • Arduino was developed originally as a simple development kit for arts students. Its simplicity however endeared it to a large community of developers from completely different verticals. While openD targets the healthcare and industrial segments, there is no restriction as to the type of application developed

For developers/makers

    • Easy wireless design: a radio must fulfil the needs of the applications
    • Easy access: good quality tooling and documentation make it easier to achieve goals
    • Easy to use: re-use of code created on Raspberry and Arduino

For university students

  • Universities represent a key target group for openD. Technical universities usually expose their students to development environments early in order to prepare them for their careers. This early exposure helps them to get valuable experience on development platforms that they will take with them through their careers. openD aims to plant a seed in the minds of these developers. They are also likely to have experienced developer communities and how they work. This acts as an invaluable branding exercise for openD and one which is sustainable over a longer time
  • Why it matters for students?
  1. Clear lines of communication between developers. No hierarchies
  2. Easy access to highly robust, wireless technologies
  • Sample code to speed time to product
  1. Well documented, easily understood software modules

Why DECT matters to specialist developers

For specialist vertical developers creating concepts for highly reliable, mission-critical voice and data apps: ultimately openD underscores the goal of becoming a 5G technology, addressing the use cases therein of ultra-reliable low latency communication (URLLC) and machine type communication (MTC).  Within these two use-case examples are myriad applications that can be addressed by openD.

Due to the mission-critical nature of healthcare and industrial, DECT/ULE is a natural fit for voice and data applications in these two verticals:

Healthcare

  • Mission-critical applications like transmitting patient vital statistics require low latency and reliability
  • For developers in healthcare, the use of an uncongested band for voice and data applications has huge advantages over other ISM band technologies
  • It helps to guarantee an uninterrupted connectivity that is often life-saving or life threatening if not available

Industrial

  • Latency as low as 1 ms (the goal of URLLC) is already theoretically possible for industrial applications
  • Predictability is provided by the circuit-switched nature of DECT, and reliability by the intelligent use of available channels using dynamic channel selection
  • For specialists in industrial wireless automation, a key criterion is the choice of radio frequency band. Many bands are operated and controlled by third-party network providers. DECT is a licence-exempt technology in its own 20MHz band without third-party operator involvement

Milestones

To realise openD, the DECT Forum will be driving the software specification and the implementation of openD in 2017. As part of the development process, we will be involving the developer community at an early stage by making interim status software available. This should not only stimulate reaction but also help to open the discussion with the developer community, using their experience and knowledge to build a robust and exciting develop platform for DECT and ULE. We look forward to your support and to answer any questions you may have.

In the next edition of DECT Today, the technical concept and the efforts around building the openD community will be covered.

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