Laird Technologies Introduces 802.11 Wireless LAN Processor Modules

Laird Technologies, Inc., a global leader in the design and supply of customized performance-critical components and systems for advanced electronics and wireless products, announced a new range of 802.11 wireless LAN processor modules that provide a wide range of AT commands and web configuration to make the Wi-Fi transition simple for M2M (machine-to-machine) designers.

M2M is widely seen as the next growth area in technology, providing remote monitoring solutions for many sectors of society. Traditionally, most M2M implementations used cellular modems to provide communication; however, these carry a high cost and make them difficult to justify for many M2M applications. The growing popularity of Wi-Fi in-home networks, hotspots, and public Muni-Fi installations now enables a new era of M2M using the wireless network to transmit data back over the internet to monitor applications.

Because configuring devices to connect to a wireless access point is very different from connecting to a cellular modem (a barrier to early adoption), Laird Technologies has developed a range of wireless modules with innovative configuration options that address this issue and build on designers’ existing experience.

In order to cater to cellular and fixed-line modem designers, comprehensive AT commands are provided that allow configuration and connection to wireless access points. Another unique feature is the ability for designers to further customize and integrate additional commands that provide the flexibility to emulate other connection devices.

Web and internet designers have the option of a web configuration page that allows Laird Technologies’ WLAN modules to be configured in situ. The configuration pages include useful features such as a local scan of access points. The modules are shipped pre-loaded with a standard configuration page that can be fully customized or extended by designers.

These WLAN modules also include an advanced scripting engine, allowing users to write programmable scripts to control the wireless behavior. A default configuration script is included that can be invoked from the M2M application to automatically connect to an access point and middleware or to place it under customer control.

“The widespread availability of internet connectivity via Wi-Fi is set to transform M2M,” said Chris Shannon, Laird Technologies’ General Manager of Wireless Systems. “We have removed the technology barriers for designers so they can easily transition existing products to take advantage of the benefits of wireless LAN.”

Laird Technologies’ wireless LAN processor modules offer a complete solution with a UART interface for data and control, 12 GPIO lines, two 10-bit ADCs, 802.11 drivers and TCP/IP stack, as well as a powerful web server.

“Most embedded servers are limited to setting up the device parameters, which is not enough for today’s designer,” said Nick Hunn, Laird Technologies’ Business Development Director of Wireless Systems. “We’ve extended that with functionality to access and embed local information that provides dynamic web content for a new generation of Web 2.0 applications.”

The module includes an interpreter running a powerful scripting language that removes the need for any host processing capability. This allows the implementation of complete applications (such as internet-enabled energy monitors, appliances, and healthcare devices) inside the WISM module, drastically reducing production costs of wirelessly-enabled products.

Wireless LAN Module Features

  • Pre-approved 802.11b/g radio
  • Full web server for remote control and access
  • Integrated interpreter and powerful wireless scripting language
  • Industrial strength WLAN drivers and TCP/IP stack
  • Full UART interface
  • Integrated or external antenna
  • Low Power operation – ideal for battery powered applications
  • Secure WEP, WPA, and WPA2 implementation
  • Bluetooth coexistence & co-location support
  • Low-cost development kit

Embedded 802.11 Application Areas
Key application areas for wireless internet access are Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications and cellular-free telematics. The company’s WLAN device server modules provide the ideal building block to get wireless concepts into production in the shortest possible time.

Two form factors are available: a compact 25 x 35 mm module that is pin-compatible with the BISM Bluetooth module and a larger module that is pin-compatible with Siemens’ MC55/56 GPRS modules. These combinations allow designers to lay out their printed circuit boards to accommodate a variety of different wireless standards.

Laird Technologies’ wireless product range can be seen at the M2M Expo being held in Santa Clara, CA, USA from May 20 – 22, 2008.

About Laird Technologies
Laird Technologies designs and supplies customized, performance-critical products for wireless and other advanced electronics applications. The company is a global market leader in the design and supply of electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, thermal interface products, signal integrity components, and wireless antennae solutions. Laird Technologies recently established a growing position in the design and supply of complete radio frequency (RF) modules and systems. These performance-critical products, co-designed in conjunction with customers, are essential in enabling and protecting the functionality of electronic devices and wireless applications. Custom products are supplied to all sectors of the electronics industry including the telecommunications, data transfer and information technology, as well as the automotive, aerospace, defense, consumer, medical, and industrial markets. Laird Technologies, a unit of Laird PLC, employs over 14,000 employees in more than 40 facilities located in 14 countries.

Laird Technologies and its logo are trademarks of Laird Technologies, Inc.